GSA budget boosts federal construction

The General Services Administration will lead the government's effort to build new, efficient buildings and simultaneously cut the federal real estate footprint.

President Obama's 2016 budget request includes $2.2 billion for the General Services Administration — about $900 million of that for renovations and the rest for new construction projects.

The agency would spend $380 million to continue the construction of the new Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Southeast Washington, D.C., which has stalled in recent years due to a lack of sufficient funding.

The new funds would go toward completing perimeter security, an access road and a new road interchange near the facility.

The funding would also finish the renovations of the DHS Secretary's building, as well as several administrative buildings and annexes, according to GSA.

GSA would also receive $227 million to help fund the first phase of the federal civilian cyber campus. The agency would also get $85 million to build a new land port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico, and $105 million for a land port of entry in Alexandria Bay, New York.

President Obama also proposes in the budget that GSA be given funds on a two-year cycle, for both fiscal 2016 and 2017, in order to ensure greater stability in construction projects and more certainty in the budgeting process.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said in a statement that taxpayers would benefit by having cost- and energy-efficient buildings, as well as modern and security border stations and ports.

"Advanced funding for the federal buildings program will give GSA the ability to plan long-term, providing certainty to communities across the country with pending investment needs," Tangherlini said.

The administration also wants to shrink its real estate footprint and save hundreds of millions of dollars in leasing and property costs — in which GSA would play a key role.

The administration wants to implement a five-year strategy to reduce the size of its real estate portfolio, with each agency required to set annual reduction targets for office and warehouse space, according to President Obama's 2016 budget request. That could mean a reduction of more than 500,000 square feet, according to the administration.

GSA would lead the way with $200 million in funds to help agencies consolidate offices or remodel existing workplaces to handle more employees.

Similar efforts led to $16 million in annual cost avoidance alone, according to the administration.

"This will allow the government to more effectively use real property by relocating federal agencies into more efficient, lower cost or consolidated locations that also enable improved delivery of government services," according to the budget request.

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