By Devin Leonard | Bloomberg BusinessWeek
President Barack Obama is trying to solve big problems in his proposed 2014 budget. His efforts to curtail entitlement spending have gotten most of the headlines. But he also seems determined to complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters, the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon rose in the 1940s. The cost: $3.9 billion.
The project would unite at a single location nearly all DHS’s 22 divisions devoted to thwarting terrorists and safeguarding the populace from natural and manmade disasters. The site is the campus of St. Elizabeth Hospital, a former federal asylum that was once the home of poet Ezra Pound and John Hinckley, Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin. There would be 4.5 million square feet of workspace in the new facility and ample employee parking.
The construction site of the Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters, Feb. 15, 2012, in Washington, DC
The project’s supporters say the price tag is justified. They say it’s not easy to get the various DHS divisions to operate in concert with each other if they are scattered throughout the capital area. At the 2009 groundbreaking, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano herself made the case for the agency’s costly new digs: “It will help us have meetings. It will help us create a culture of ‘one DHS.’”
It didn’t take long for the project to become mired in politics. House Republicans, a number of whom see the DHS as an inefficient and fiscally profligate bureaucracy, were loath to fund the new headquarters fully.
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New DHS Headquarters is Largest Construction Project in GSA History
The project will be built on the former St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital campus, a National Historic Landmark in Washington, DC.[...]The overall DHS headquarters consolidation is the largest current federal construction project in the US and the largest federal project since construction of the Pentagon. All phases of the construction program, estimated at $3 billion to $4 billion, are scheduled for completion in 2016.