March 01, 2016

Rep. Carson's Opening Statement: “Saving Taxpayer Dollars by Reducing Federal Office Space Costs”

Statement of

the honorable Andrè Carson

Ranking Member , Subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management

house transportation and infrastructure committee


“Saving Taxpayer Dollars by Reducing Federal Office Space Costs”


March 1, 2016

Welcome to today’s hearing.   I am pleased to see Minority Whip Hoyer at the witness table testifying on behalf of his constituents in Maryland.


As the federal government’s landlord, the General Services Administration, or GSA, has a responsibility to work with other federal agencies to make good decisions that reflect both the will of the Administration and Congress.  This Committee has worked diligently with GSA and tenant agencies to identify opportunities to improve their space utilization.  This can save taxpayer dollars, help agencies spend less on real estate, and improve their ability to provide their core services to those who need them. We’ve held roundtables across the nation and secured commitments from the leaders of various agencies to move back into federally owned buildings where it’s possible, and to lower the amount of square feet per employee.  I commend GSA for their efforts and fully expect them to continue their efforts.


          I look forward to today’s testimony detailing efforts by GSA in their Fiscal Year 2017 budget requests to continue with their space utilization initiatives and renovate existing buildings in the Federal Building Fund (FBF) portfolio.


 It is just as important to use space efficiently as it is to ensure that existing building stock is properly maintained.  Proactive maintenance and repair is almost always more cost efficient than reactive maintenance.  This is why I’m pleased to see that the Administration has committed over $2 billion to construction, repair and maintenance projects in their FY 2017 budget.  These projects range from major repair jobs to the exchange contemplated by GSA to provide a new consolidated FBI headquarters.  Many of these projects represent federal agencies significantly downsizing of their current real estate footprint.  There is a real opportunity to achieve long term savings for the taxpayer by effectively managing real estate.


Included in the FY-17 request there is $10.7 million for a long-overdue repair and alteration project to undertake structural upgrades of the parking garage at the Minton-Capehart Federal Building in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This project will stimulate economic activity in my District in addition to fortifying a needed asset.  The current garage is suffering from corrosion and spalling of the structure  which threatens property safety.   Sections of the garage have been closed down due to the risk of falling concrete injuring those who enter this building for Social Security, Veterans and other federal services.  These repairs will alleviate  such problems and lower the maintenance costs, which will create significant long term savings to the federal government. 


          Finally, I look forward to hearing from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  For many years this subcommittee has worked with collaboratively with the Federal judiciary to better understand their space needs and to determine where savings could be found.  The Committee held multiple hearings, initiated several Government Accountability Office reports, and ultimately requested a moratorium in 2010 on the Administration constructing new courthouses.  After much discussion, the Federal judiciary has committed to judges sharing courtrooms, a close adherence to the Court Design guide, and eliminating the use of judgeship projections in determining courthouse construction needs.   As a result of the Federal judiciary adopting these reforms and adopting a new capital planning process developed in tandem with the subcommittee, Congress appropriated nearly $1 billion dollars for new courthouses in FY 2016.  Today I hope to hear form the Federal judiciary about how they plan to spend and prioritize their requests for authorization of funds appropriated in FY 2016.


          Thank you and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.