Rising Costs and Delays in Construction of New DHS Headquarters

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 14, 2014

Reality Check Needed: Rising Costs and Delays in Construction of New DHS Headquarters at St. Elizabeths.  U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, January 2014, Prepared by Majority Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security.

“Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, released a…report examines the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) planning process for its new headquarters and details how taxpayer dollars have been spent on the project to date. Originally founded in 1852 as a government-run hospital for the mentally ill, St. Elizabeths is a national historic landmark. In 2006, the hospital was chosen as the future site of a consolidated headquarters complex for DHS, in an effort to build cohesiveness among Department components. The project has received $1.3 billion in funding to date and only the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters complex has been completed. The 26-page report reviews the potential areas of cost growth, selection and planning issues, and the effects of green initiatives and the site’s historic status on construction costs, among other concerns. Specifically, the report found that it remains unclear how active DHS officials were in choosing the site of their future headquarters. Furthermore, DHS has pushed final completion to fiscal year 2026, 10 years beyond the original schedule, and delays in construction have increased costs by 30%  – about $1 billion. The report questions why DHS has not conducted a major reassessment nor considered a new approach to headquarters consolidation…”The expanded use of technology has changed the paradigm of the workspace requirements by allowing a greater emphasis on working from home as a way to reduce square footage requirements. This allows for more shared work spaces…With statements made by senior leadership, the morale concerns, the $1 billion cost increase, and slippage of the completion date to FY 2026, the Committee questions why there has not been a major reassessment of the headquarters consolidation project now with a ten year extension to the project’s deadline and why DHS has not considered a new approach to headquarters consolidation.”

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