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Implementation of the Recovery Act


JULY 31, 2009



Good Morning Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, and members of this committee. My name is Tony Costa and I am the Acting Commissioner of the General Services Administration's Public Buildings Service. Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today to discuss GSA's contribution to our nation's economic recovery through the green modernization and construction of our buildings.

GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS) is one of the largest and most diversified public real estate organizations in the world. Our inventory consists of over 8,600 owned and leased assets with nearly 354 million square feet of space across all 50 states, 6 territories, and the District of Columbia. Our portfolio is composed primarily of office buildings and courthouses, land ports of entry, and warehouses. GSA's goal is to manage these assets responsibly while delivering and maintaining superior workplaces at best value to our client agencies and the American taxpayer.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) gave us an unprecedented and exciting opportunity to contribute to our nation's economic recovery. The investments we make in our public buildings will help stimulate job growth and retention in the construction and real estate sectors, help us reduce energy consumption in our buildings, improve the environmental performance of our real estate inventory, and help us reduce our backlog of repair and alteration needs, increasing the overall value of our assets. In addition, our investments in our buildings are helping to further the development of energy efficient technologies, alternative energy solutions and green building technologies.


On April 29, 2009, GSA had the opportunity to describe our strategy for investing these funds in our public buildings. As of this afternoon, we met our goal of obligating $ 1 billion of Recovery Act funds by August 1, 2009. Our goal is to obligate another $1 billion by the end of the calendar year. We have set interim target dates for project awards in each quarter to ensure we obligate $5 billion of the $5.5 billion we received in Recovery Act funds by the end of fiscal year 2010.

We will provide you with a list of all obligations we have made as of today. Major projects awarded as of July 22 include:

CA Bakersfield New Courthouse
CA Los Angeles 300 North LA Federal Building
CA, Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry
CO Boulder David Skaggs Research Center
CO Denver Byron Rogers Federal Building
CO Denver Custom House Federal Building and Courthouse
CO Denver Chavez Federal Building
CO Denver Federal Center Infrastructure
CO Denver Byron White U.S. Courthouse
CO Fort Collins Federal Building Post Office
CO Lakewood Denver Federal Center
DC Washington Lafayette (Phase I)
DC Washington St. Elizabeths West Campus Infrastructure
DC Washington Mary Switzer (Phase II)
DE Wilmington J. Caleb Boggs Courthouse Federal Building
FL Tampa Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse (escalation)
GA Atlanta Peachtree Summitt Federal Building
HI Honolulu Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole Federal Building-Courthouse
IL Chicago Federal Center
IN Indianapolis Minton-Capehart Federal Building
IN Indianapolis Birch Bayh U.S. Courthouse
IN Indianapolis Major General Emmett J. Bean
KS Kansas City Robert J. Dole U.S. Courthouse
KS Wichita U.S. Courthouse
MA Andover IRS Service Center
MA Boston JFK Federal Building
MA Boston Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building
MD Woodlawn CMS Headquarters Complex
ME Bangor Margaret Chase Smith U.S. Post Office Courthouse
ME Calais U.S. Land Port of Entry
ME Van Buren U.S. Land Port of Entry
MI Detroit McNamara Federal Building Complex
MN Fort Snelling Whipple Federal Building
MO Kansas City 8930 Ward Parkway
MO St. Louis Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse
MO St. Louis Robert Young Federal Building
MS Jackson U.S. Courthouse (escalation)
MT Billings U.S. Courthouse
NE North Platte Federal Building
NE Omaha Hruska Courthouse
NE Omaha Edward Zorinsky Federal Building
NJ Newark Peter Rodino Federal Building
NY Brooklyn Emanuel Celler U.S. Courthouse
NY New York Thurgood Marshall Building
OR Portland Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building
PA Philadelphia U.S. Customs House
PA Philadelphia Veterans Administration Center
TX Galveston U.S. Post Office and Courthouse
TX Houston G.T. Leland Federal Building
TX San Antonio Hippolito Garcia U.S. Courthouse
VA Richmond Robert Merhige U.S. Courthouse
WA Blaine Peace Arch Port of Entry
WA Seattle Federal Center South
WV Charleston Robert C. Byrd Federal Building and Courthouse
WV Huntington Federal Building
WV Martinsburg Federal Building
WY Cheyenne Joseph C. O'Mahoney Federal Center


The projects we have funded are varied; they cover our entire portfolio. Examples include a key contract for utility system upgrades at the Denver Federal Center using current, more efficient technologies and built to current code requirements. At this facility, we currently have 50- year-old utility infrastructure that includes 13.4 miles of underground fire lines, 11.3 miles of domestic water and drain lines, and 8.3 miles of sanitary sewer lines. Over the past 10 years, utility systems have become increasingly unreliable with the most serious failure in 2001 when the entire campus was shut down as a result of the main domestic water line break. We had previously scheduled the infrastructure repair project to be funded in fiscal year 2010 as a phased project. The Recovery Act provided the opportunity to fully fund and accelerate this project as a single project in fiscal year 2009, saving all of the extra costs associated with multiphase projects. As of July 17th, $47 million has been awarded for the project, $7 million ahead of schedule.

In Montana, GSA has acquired the site for the U.S. Courthouse in Billings. The demolition contract for two buildings located on the site will be awarded to a Service Disabled Veteran business.

In addition to funding new project starts, we are improving projects already underway by adding new high performance green features. In many cases, these features were not previously available on the market or may not have been possible given other constraints. For example, we are incorporating $1.5 million in additional energy conservation measures to the existing design of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, Oregon. At the Hruska Courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska, the aging roof will be replaced with a brand new, energy efficient roof system including additional insulation; if feasible, it will include an integrated photovoltaic system. These high performing green features will help us shave our peak load, reduce our energy consumption and reduce our energy costs.

Our progress toward the consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at St. Elizabeths in Washington, DC is on track. We will build this project in 3 phases. Phase 1 includes a new headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard and as we committed, we anticipate awarding the first design/build contract for the Coast Guard Headquarters in mid-August. This award will contain our first significant obligation of Recovery Act dollars for the DHS Headquarters consolidation. Most recently, we awarded a $1.2 million contract for abatement and demolition services to L&M, a small business contractor located in Capitol Heights, Maryland. We are planning a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the DHS initiative in September and we hope you will accept our invitation to attend.


To date, PBS has obligated $1 billion for federal construction projects funded by the Recovery Act. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 10,854 direct, indirect (from manufacturing materials), and induced (from people providing goods and services to the direct and indirect workers) job-years are created for every billion in Recovery Act dollars spent.

We are excited that apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs will be an integral part of our Recovery Act projects. With regard to pre-apprenticeship programs, we have identified key locations with the highest unemployment rates and with the greatest Recovery Act project opportunities. We have issued a Request for Information (RFI) - Sources Sought to identify providers of pre-apprenticeship training programs who are interested in seeking Recovery Act funds to establish, continue, enhance, or further pre-apprenticeship training opportunities. On August 1, 2009 we will then issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to qualified organizations and associations who can most effectively leverage Recovery Act funds for pre-apprenticeship programs. These pre-apprenticeship programs may include on-the-job-training, classroom training and work-life training.

We have drafted contract provisions modeled on our National Capital Region's Apprenticeship program. These clauses have been included in the construction contract for St. Elizabeths and will be included in all our major construction contracts effective August 1, 2009. We are working with the Department of Transportation to find ways of optimizing our resources and contract vehicles to more effectively implement apprenticeship programs. In addition, GSA and the Department of Labor signed a Memorandum of Understanding effective July 1, 2009, to promote apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in our Recovery Act projects.

Finally, we have identified 10 large Recovery Act projects, representing $1.25 billion in Recovery Act spending, located in 7 states and the District of Columbia, where Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) may be used, as appropriate. A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project, promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of the project. This is consistent with the President's new executive order promoting the use of PLAs in connection with large-scale federal construction projects.

Managing the Work


The Recovery Act has dramatically increased PBS's workload. To address this increased workload, we have moved experienced existing personnel to support Recovery Act work. We have completely staffed our National Program Management Office (PMO) for Recovery Act activities with subject matter experts, oversight and program managers, zone executives and managers and regional recovery executives in each region. The nationally managed PMO tracks and monitors the regional execution of Recovery Act projects. At our GSA Regional Offices, projects are executed with speed, tempered by careful consideration of our procurement responsibilities and our ultimate accountability to the American taxpayer.

Gaps created by moving staff to Recovery Act work as well as new staffing requirements created by the burgeoning Recovery Act workload are being filled, as appropriate, with temporary/term federal personnel or contractors. To expedite this process, we are requesting additional direct hire authority for Project Managers (1100) and Interdisciplinary Architects/Engineers (0800) in addition to existing 1102 (Contracting) and 1170 (Realty Specialist) direct hire authority. OPM has approved GSA's request for a waiver to offset the penalty for reemployed annuitants for specific occupations necessary for delivery of the Recovery Act program.

We have also established standing registers for Contracting Specialists, Project Managers, and Interdisciplinary Architect/Engineer positions and we are developing a marketing campaign that includes job fairs, newspaper advertisements, and advertising with professional organizations. Over 5,500 people have applied for and been placed on our standing registers, from which we can select candidates as positions open without the need for further advertising.

As of July 21, 2009, we had hired:

  o   23 FTEs

  • 9 permanent 1102's
  • 2 annuitants
  • 1 industry hire
  • 11  temporary/term

   o  6 contractors

Accelerated Procurement

In the area of procurement, we are taking specific actions to accelerate the award and execution of contracts more quickly. For example, to streamline our procurement process and to ensure nationwide consistency, we have developed standard Statements of Work (SOW), performance specifications, technical/design guides, and contract templates. We are using standardized SOWs for Advanced Metering, Ground-Mounted and Roof-Mounted Photovoltaic; Re-Commissioning/Retro-Commissioning, Relighting, Interior and Bi-Level Stairwell Lighting and Lighting Controls; Parking Garage and Parking Lot Lighting. In addition, we have issued Guidance on Cool and Planted Roofs; Guidance on Water Efficiency, Minimum Performance Criteria for New Construction and Modernization; and Historic Building Technical Guides for HVAC, Lighting, Roof and Window Upgrades.

We have awarded national and regional contracts to support Recovery Act reporting, tracking, and contract management. These tools were provided to our regions earlier this month. We are currently working on technical guides to assist our regional staff with relighting and photovoltaic projects.

We are also taking steps to accelerate contract execution. These include:

  • Increasing project monitoring and oversight to track project milestones such as Receipt of Bonds, security clearance processing, Notice to Proceed, mobilization; and on-site preparation work; and
  • Determining the feasibility of creating separate contract line items associated with mobilization, demobilization and preparatory work that are tied to the schedule of values.This would enable contractors to invoice for "early" progress payments based on meeting those early milestones.

Support to other Agencies

We also support the real estate needs of other agencies which have received Recovery Act funding, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), DHS, and DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In total, we anticipate receiving approximately $1.5 billion for Recovery Act projects from our customers.

o   As part of the Recovery Act, SSA received a $500 million appropriation for a new National Support Center to replace the existing National Computer Center in Woodlawn, Maryland. SSA turned to GSA for assistance in locating, designing and building this new data center, which will meet the agency's redundancy and expansion needs for the long-term. We are committed to our partnership with SSA in defining their site, building infrastructure and space requirements. Currently, we are working with SSA to develop the facility design requirements and simultaneously conducting a search for land to house the new facility. Land purchase is scheduled for March 2010, with construction expected to start in March 2011.

o   The Department of State (State) plans to use $70 million of Recovery Act funds for a new Foreign Affairs Security Training Center. GSA is partnering with State for the site acquisition, design, and construction of a new consolidated hard skills training center to support security related training for the Department and the wider foreign affairs community. We are currently working with State to develop design requirements and conducting a land search to house the new facility. Land purchase is scheduled for December 2009, with construction to start in May 2010.

o   We are providing acquisition, project management, planning, design/build, and construction management services in support of CBP's funded Land Port of Entry (LPOE) Modernization Program. Recovery Act funds will be utilized to replace seven aging LPOEs in four states along the northern border: Morgan, Scobey and Wild Horse in Montana; Churubusco in New York; Antler and Noonan in North Dakota; and Frontier in Washington. All projects are currently out for bid under existing GSA IDIQ contracts. Bid opening and proposal evaluation occurred in mid-July. We expect projects to be awarded by mid-August.


Today, I have described our recent accomplishments and contributions to our nation's economic recovery through our investments in green technologies and reinvestment in our public buildings. We look forward to working with you and members of this committee as we continue to deliver this important work.

Congressional Testimony on Recovery Act