Housing Complex

Norton: Despite Budget Cuts, St. E’s Is On Track

Just trying to keep those bars where they are. (GSA)

For long-term building projects that depend on funding from the federal government, it's hard to know whether you're going to actually finish construction if your budget is held up for three months by partisan bickering in Washington. Many projects still don't know what exactly they'll be getting after the House and Senate finally voted the thing through last week, and the numbers don't look good for the Department of Homeland Security's $3.4 billion headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths in Ward 8.

For fiscal year 2011, DHS requested $287.8 million, and GSA requested $391 million, making for a total of about $678.8 million (GSA's money is for the building of buildings, while DHS funds equipment, relocation expenses, etc.). In the final text, DHS got only $77.4 million, and GSA sustained $971 million in cuts overall–they're still deciding how those are to be distributed, and won't comment until the bill is signed.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, though, seems confident that that the project has enough funding for this year to finish the U.S. Coast Guard building, and keep the project mostly on track (except for a reduction in GSA's inspections personnel).

"Thankfully, we're not as set back as we might have been," she told Housing Complex this morning. "The building that is now going up will be completed, because all parts of it, not just the construction, but the all important information data systems all of that technology that you can't do without, the funds are there to continue that."

"I think Congress recognized that if you really want to lose money, you stop construction in the middle of it," she said.

Still, that may not leave as much money as Norton would like to keep moving forward with the next phase of the project: The DHS' headquarters building, called the National Operations Center. If it's not substantially funded next year, those bars on the project schedule could start to pull apart.

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