DHS One Step Closer to Permanent, Consolidated Home

Sept. 26, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. General Services Administration has completed a draft master plan and draft environmental impact study at St. Elizabeths Hospital, marking another milestone in GSA's effort to establish a permanent, consolidated home for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

"The Department of Homeland Security performs a vital function for our nation and needs to consolidate its more than 50 locations in Metropolitan DC into one headquarters," said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan. "These reports get us a step closer to a world-class facility in Southeast Washington that will serve as a permanent home for DHS."

GSA considers development of the site a high priority. DHS is currently housed in more than 50 locations around the region, many of which are leased. St. Elizabeths is the only location within the District that could accommodate the department's requirements.

The master plan includes several components, such as: preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the impact of the proposed development on the human and natural environment; negotiating a Programmatic Agreement under the National Historic Preservation Act to establish guidelines to minimize adverse impacts of development on the site's historic fabric; working with the D.C. Department of Transportation to identify and implement necessary improvements for adequate access to the site; developing the necessary infrastructure on site to accommodate the proposed DHS headquarters; and commencing design of the first phase of the development.

Locating DHS headquarters on this site will provide substantial economic benefits to the Anacostia and Congress Heights neighborhoods in which it is located. These neighborhoods are not experiencing the economic growth and development that has occurred across much of the District. The creation of federal campus housing up to 14,000 employees should bring tangible economic benefits.

This project will augment DC's efforts to make improvements to this area. During the environmental study, GSA has been working closely with the community to ensure their concerns and inputs are heard so that a future DHS facility is a "good neighbor" in the community. Much work and evaluation has been undertaken on the 76-acre West Campus in preparation for this draft Master Plan. Traces of environmental contaminants, some of which appear to have originated from the disposal of fly ash from municipal incinerators in the 1950s and 1960s, were discovered on isolated areas in sufficient concentrations to warrant further analysis of risk to public health. The District found a similar problem on St. Elizabeths East Campus and, after testing and evaluation, concluded no remediation was needed. GSA will continue to work with appropriate federal agencies and District of Columbia officials as testing proceeds and will receive its own analysis and recommendations in late October.

GSA is proud of its work on the preservation of historic building throughout the country. The project at St. Elizabeths has devoted significant time and resources ensure the historic nature of this site is preserved while making it a functional facility for DHS. DHS consolidation at St. Elizabeths allows preservation of this site rather than the current deterioration of these buildings. GSA has spent $13 million to stabilize the buildings and infrastructure.

Founded in 1949, GSA serves as a centralized procurement and property management agency for the federal government. GSA manages more than one- fourth of the government's total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings and 208,000 vehicles. GSA helps preserve our past and define our future, as a steward of more than 420 historic properties, and as manager of USA.gov, the official portal to federal government information and services. GSA's mission to provide superior workplaces, expert technology solutions, acquisition services, purchasing and eGov Travel solutions and management policies, at best value, allows federal agencies to focus on their core missions.

Did you know? St. Elizabeth's, established in 1855, is a National Historic Landmark. It contains 61 buildings that house approximately 1.1 million gross square feet of space. All the buildings are in need of major modernization and restoration. GSA's Public Buildings Service and the federal government are uniquely equipped to restore and reuse most of the buildings.

SOURCE U.S. General Services Administration

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