News Column

Your Tax Dollars...Down the Drain: New Home for the Department of Homeland Security

July 31, 2014



WASHINGTON, July 31 -- The office of Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, issued the following news release:

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today released the latest example in a monthly series highlighting Washington's wasteful spending during a time of record debt:

It seems Washington can't deliver a large scale building project on time and on budget.

The latest example is a planned new headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a complex first proposed in 2001 to consolidate over 50 historic buildings into one centralized location. The construction has been delayed so long that the projected costs have jumped.

"The fact that the plan for this massive DHS headquarters is nearly a decade off schedule with a growing bottom line does not inspire much confidence that this project is worthy of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars," said Portman. "It's critical that the federal government spend taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently."

According to a House Subcommittee on Oversight and Management report, the originally-approved 2006 DHS plan called for the headquarters to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $3.45 billion. And although 2014 has finally arrived, DHS employees should hold off on hiring movers--virtually no construction of DHS buildings has occurred on the site since the original plan was approved (though a headquarters for the Coast Guard was established on the site last year).

In fact, almost the only activity has been on the bottom line, where the projected cost has leaped from $3.45 billion to $4.5 billion. Despite receiving most of its $1.4 billion in appropriations from the President's "stimulus" in 2009, the project would still require over $3.1 billion in additional funding to complete.

These costs and delays are staggering when contrasted with the swiftness and resourcefulness that marked the great real estate developments of American history. The Pentagon--which was built in the early 1940s to host the entire Department of Defense--was completed within 18 months of Congressional authorization and cost less than one-third as much as the DHS project (about $1.33 billion adjusted for inflation). In the private sector, the Empire State Building took 14 months to build and cost the equivalent of $635 million in today's dollars. The Chrysler building in New York was constructed at an average rate of four stories per week.

The Washington Post recently reported (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/planned-homeland-security-headquarters-long-delayed-and-over-budget-now-in-doubt/2014/05/20/d0df2580-dc42-11e3-8009-71de85b9c527_story.html?hpid=z2) that visitors to the new DHS headquarters facility can view deer grazing throughout the vacant buildings with no DHS personnel in the area. Currently, the project's estimated completion date is 2026--25 years after the plan was proposed.

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Source: Targeted News Service


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