Expand Federal Investment in Military Housing, Federal Prisons, Federal Courthouses, Border Stations, Embassies, and Other Federal Facilities
- The federal government has not invested in its physical infrastructure. Federal office buildings are not designed for today’s high-tech work environment. The General Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 903 federal buildings are in need of repairs and alterations at an estimated cost of approximately $4 billion. GAO also reported that 44 of the 903 buildings need urgent attention because they have an average age of 49 years, and need over $20 million per building in repairs and alterations. The federal government must invest in its own physical infrastructure to care for our military personnel, improve employee retention and overall performance.
- Our Nation’s Military Construction Agencies Support Our Nation’s Military Personnel in Peace and Wartime. Agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Air Force design and manage construction for homes, schools, hospitals, day care centers, office buildings, airfields, warehouses and training facilities for members of the military and their families. Congress should increase investment in these facilities, including substantial investment to help complete implementation of the most recent round of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission.
- Increase Funding for Federal Prisons to Accommodate Population Growth. The Federal Bureau of Prisons protects society by confining offenders in controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient and appropriately secure. It is anticipated that at least $400 million annually is needed for the buildings and facilities account. The continued lack of funding for this program, coupled higher fuel and steel prices, is causing some prison construction costs to increase by 62 percent. This will result in scope changes and smaller facilities than necessary to avoid overcrowding.
- Build Federal Courthouses to Meet the Courts’ Requirements for Today and Many Years Into the Future. GSA’s Courthouse construction program includes a myriad of functions and specialized requirements. The planning, design and construction of a new federal courthouse integrates all three branches of the U.S. government. Accordingly, the government must be willing to invest in the largest courthouse construction program in more than 50 years, with an estimated cost of approximately $10 billion.
- Investment in Border Barriers and Stations Helps Secure Our Nation. In 2005, Congress approved legislation authorizing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite the construction of border barriers. Studies show that the erection of the San Diego border fence has proven to be effective in reducing the flow of illegal immigration into southern California. Over the twelve year period between 1992 and 2004, overall apprehensions in the San Diego sector declined by76%. In addition, GSA’s Border Station Program develops and maintains standard processes and procedures to ensure land points of entry are developed consistently and to an acceptable standard, Investment in these critical areas are key to making our nation more safe and secure.
- Provide Safe, Secure and Functional Embassy Compounds Globally. The Department of State is responsible for providing safe facilities for over 62,000 embassy staff at 251 embassies and consulates around the world. Unfortunately, many of these facilities do not meet current security standards and are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Accordingly, the State Department Overseas Buildings Operations Office (OBO) launched a $17.5 billion capital construction program to fund safe, secure and functional New Embassy Compounds (NECs) through 2018. It is imperative that Congress fully fund this critical infrastructure program.
- Support Additional Investment in the Federal Building Fund. GSA’s construction activities are primarily funded through the Federal Building Fund (FBF), where other agencies pay their rents to GSA for the space they occupy. Excess funds collected are used for building repairs and new construction. Recent funding shortfalls have resulted in a backlog of repairs, alterations and project starts. As the nation’s buildings age and the government models for space requirements evolve, the current method for collecting revenues may not be accurate and may adversely impact the Federal Buildings Fund. Without additional investment, the FBF could be jeopardized, negatively affecting funding for critical GSA construction projects.