The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

House Judiciary Tackles GSA Waste

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


House Judiciary Tackles GSA Waste
By Colin Gamm
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing today on two cases of wasteful courthouse renovations.  The hearing topic was entitled “GSA’s Failure to Meet the Needs of the Judiciary: A Case Study of Bureaucratic Negligence and Waste.”
The full Judiciary Committee is chaired by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who has actively confronted GSA about its renovation of the Poff Federal Building in his home district.  The project has been marred by a variety of missteps, including improper procedure, cost overruns, and serious disruption of its primary tenants, the United States District Court of Western Virginia and a regional Veterans Affairs office.
The Poff renovation, initially budgeted at $51 million, will likely end up costing taxpayers around $80 million once the final stage of the project is completed.  The Inspector General of GSA released a report revealing that GSA officials violated federal procurement laws while contracting the project, and in response to Rep. Goodlatte’s inquiries, GSA admitted that it had not conducted a full cost-benefit analysis until after the contracting was complete.  As for the tenants, the courts were subject to noisy, disruptive construction, while the V.A. was forced to scatter to multiple new offices before returning this year.
The other case concerned a landscaping project for the Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  While judges initially asked only that GSA fix a leak and replace an inefficient species of grass, they received much more: a six-month, $3.4 million landscape renovation, almost a tenth of the total cost of the courthouse.
Witnesses at the hearing included William P. Johnson, Judge for the United States District Court of New Mexico; Glen E. Conrad, Chief Judge, and Jennifer Smith, Architect and Project manager, of the United States District Court of Western Virginia; and Michael Gelber, Deputy Commissioner of GSA’s Public Building Service.

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