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House panel seeks to relocate Federal Trade Commission

Mar. 13, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is making another attempt to relocate the Federal Trade Commission to a new location in Washington.

The committee on March 8 directed the General Services Administration which handles leasing for the FTC to develop a detailed plan for a new office at Constitution Center in southwest Washington. Within 30 days, GSA must develop floor plans and set space-per-employee requirements and present them to the committee for approval.

The FTC move to Constitution Center would allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to give up its remaining lease obligations in the building. The SEC had originally leased the entire building for $500 million over 10 years but was forced to give it up after Congress and independent investigators found that it did not need the space. The Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Home Finance Authority have already moved into the former SEC space.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the committee, has introduced legislation in the past to relocate the FTC out of its current headquarters and turn the space over to the National Gallery of Art, which would pay for the extensive renovations the historic building needs. The move could save taxpayers at least $282 million in avoided renovation and leasing costs, Mica said. Previous legislative efforts dating back to 2005 have been unable to pass both the House and the Senate.

The House committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee must approve federal leases valued at more than $2.66 million that are arranged by GSA.

The House committee on March 8 also approved 11 new federal leases, including a new $7.1 million 183,000-square-foot lease in Northern Virginia for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The ODNI lease would limit space to 102 square feet per employee almost half the 200-square-feet-per-person standard the government has used for nearly a decade.

When the Senate considers the ODNI lease, it cannot increase space restrictions imposed by the House committee.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said in a statement that the 11 newly approved leases would save the affected agencies which include the Veterans Affairs Department and the Food and Drug Administration $316 million over the terms of the leases.

"Left to their own devices, GSA will continue to flush billions of dollars down the toilet, building new courthouses we don't need and leasing huge new offices buildings for agencies that can't fill them," Denham said in a statement.

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