[Senate Hearing 106-999]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 106-999
GSA'S FISCAL YEAR 2001 CAPITAL
INVESTMENT AND LEASING PROGRAM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MARCH 21, 2000
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COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
BOB SMITH, New Hampshire, Chairman
JOHN W. WARNER, Virginia MAX BAUCUS, Montana
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN, New York
CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Missouri HARRY REID, Nevada
GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio BOB GRAHAM, Florida
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut
ROBERT F. BENNETT, Utah BARBARA BOXER, California
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas RON WYDEN, Oregon
LINCOLN CHAFEE, Rhode Island
Dave Conover, Staff Director
Tom Sliter, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio, Chairman
JOHN W. WARNER, Virginia MAX BAUCUS, Montana
CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Missouri DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN, New York
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma HARRY REID, Nevada
CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming BOB GRAHAM, Florida
LINCOLN CHAFEE, Rhode Island JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut
C O N T E N T S
MARCH 21, 2000
Baucus, Hon. Max, U.S. Senator from the State of Montana......... 19
Boxer, Hon. Barbara, U.S. Senator from the State of California... 2
Graham, Hon. Bob, U.S. Senator from the State of Florida......... 21
Moynihan, Hon. Daniel Patrick, U.S. Senator from the State of New
Voinovich, Hon. George, U.S. Senator from the State of Ohio...... 1
Warner, Hon. John W., U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of
Peck, Hon. Robert, Commissioner, Public Building Service, General
Services Administration........................................ 22
Prepared statement........................................... 46
Written responses to questions from:
Senator Baucus...........................................36, 59
Senator Graham...........................................41, 42
Senator Smith............................................ 59
Senator Reid............................................. 60
Senator Voinovich........................................44, 57
Roth, Jane R., U.S. Judge, Third Circuit Court of Appeals,
Chairman, Judicial Conference Committee on Security and
Prepared statement........................................... 62
Responses to additional questions from Senator Voinovich..... 67
Article, Federal Times........................................... 61
Berne, Bernard H., M.D., Ph.D................................ 86
Conway, John E., U.S. District Judge, District of New Mexico, 73
Coyle, Robert E., U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of
Davis, Edward B., Chief U.S. District Judge, Southern
District of Florida........................................ 71
Edwards, Harry T., Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the
D.C. Circuit............................................... 68
Hatter, Terry J., Chief U.S. District Judge, Central District
of California.............................................. 5
Skretny, William M., Judge, U.S. District Court, Western
District of New York....................................... 77
GSA'S FISCAL YEAR 2001 CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND LEASING PROGRAM
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2000
Committee on Environment and Public Works,
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m. in
room 406, Senate Dirksen Building, Hon. George V. Voinovich
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Voinovich, Baucus, Moynihan, Graham, and
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE VOINOVICH,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Senator Voinovich. Good morning. This hearing will come to
I'd like to thank Robert Peck, Commissioner of the Public
Building Services of the General Services Administration and
Judge Jane Roth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
and chair of the Committee on Security and Facilities of the
Judicial Conference for appearing today to discuss GSA's fiscal
year 2001 capital investment and leasing program, including the
courthouse construction program.
The fiscal year 2001 program before the committee requests
authorization for 54 projects in various stages of development,
totaling $1.167 billion; repairs and alterations include 13
projects, $365 million; design, 11 projects, $20.5 million;
construction, 18 projects, $701 million; and leases, 12
projects, $80 million in annual costs.
It is my hope that we will be able to operate within the
constraints of the budget resolution to approve these
resolutions early this year, prior to the Treasury, Postal, and
general government appropriations bill moving through the
Our job is made easier by the fact--hooray--that the
Administration has included in the President's budget for
fiscal year 2001 a request of $488 million for seven new
courthouse construction projects. For the past 3 years, the
Office of Budget and Management has refused to include a
request by the General Services Administration on behalf of the
Federal Judiciary for funds and
budget authority to construct new Federal facilities.
I and others on this committee wrote to the Office of
Budget and Management last fall stating that the Federal
Government has the responsibility to see that adequate, secure
facilities are provided to the Judicial Branch of Government,
as well as the executive and legislative branches.
I pretty well made it clear that if we didn't get some type
of request from the Office of Budget and Management, that the
legislation pending by Senator Cochran, which had bypassed OMB
and this committee, might have passed.
Courthouse construction is a Federal responsibility. Unlike
many other initiatives that the Administration is proposing,
like school construction, this is something that Congress
should be funding. The problem around here is that we have
expanded this Federal Government into a lot of areas that are,
in my opinion, the responsibility of State and local
government, and, as a result of that, haven't got the money to
do the things that the Federal Government has primary
responsibility for. We need to remember around here what the
Federal Government is responsible for and what the States are
I am pleased that the Senate budget resolution is moving
one step further in meeting the needs of the Federal Judiciary.
It is my understanding that the Senate budget resolution will
assume $700 million for courthouse construction. This will
allow us to potentially authorize more than the $488 million
proposed by the Administration to accommodate for the backlog
of projects that are in the pipeline, and there are lots of
The judiciary has a continuing need to have additional
court space available so it can do business and move cases to
settlement in a timely manner.
While saying this, the Office of Budget and Management's
approach this year to courtroom sharing is one which I would
like to explore. I would like to receive more information on
the model that OMB used to derive the increase in courtroom
sharing at a ratio of two courtrooms for every three judges.
While we need courthouses, we also need to do more with
less. We can ill afford, with limited Federal dollars, to build
courthouses in the future which accommodate a courtroom for
every single judge.
I look forward to your testimony on this proposal.
We'll start our hearing, but prior to doing that we have
several Senators here today that would like to make statements.
Our first Senator that arrived was Senator Boxer.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA BOXER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Senator Boxer. Well, Mr. Chairman, you're very gracious to
permit me this very short period of time. I will conclude my
remarks in 1 minute.
I'd ask unanimous consent that I may place in the record my
full statement and a statement of Terry Hatter, Jr., Chief U.S.
District Judge of the Central District of California.
Mr. Chairman, let me just say, in summarizing my statement,
I am very distressed, having followed two particular
courthouses now for years--Los Angeles and Fresno--as to what
has happened to these projects in the President's budget and
what GSA is recommending.
To put it succinctly, I believe that the record would show
that the way they are reconfiguring the Los Angeles courthouse,
which is so desperately needed, would compromise security and
efficiency, and it calls for two buildings to be used instead
of one. We'd have to require links for prisoner, public, and
staff circulation. We don't know where a companion building
could be erected.
We're very distressed. We thought we had this all done, and
now this has come up.
Second, the situation in Fresno, where we have a design,
everybody is happy, and there's not a penny in there.
I would conclude by just saying this--because I, again,
don't want to take the subcommittee's time--this is really
serious business in my State. We are growing now from 34
million people to more than 50 million people, Mr. Chairman, by
the year 2020, and if GSA thinks this is going to resolve it by
having people sharing courtrooms, this is much bigger than
We need justice for the people, and we're not going to have
it if we start cutting back these buildings and putting two
buildings linked by a bridge or something. It's not going to
work in the long term. We're going to find ourselves where we
find ourselves now all over the country with buildings that are
built that are inadequate.
I am really distressed about it, so I'll stop, because I
don't want to get myself worked up. It's too early.
But I wanted to thank you for this opportunity, and I hope
that we can work together, Mr. Chairman. You and I may have a
different view about sharing space. I know if we suggested two
Senators in one office, I don't think it would work really
well, as far as the efficiency of our office. And they have
things that they do. They are backlogged as it is. But that's
So thank you, again. I hope to work with you to remedy
these two glaring problems in my State.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Senator.
[The statements of Senator Boxer and Judge Hatter follow:]
STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA BOXER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you. Today, I am here to request the construction of
courthouse buildings in Fresno and Los Angeles. Both cities'
courthouses are decrepit and filled beyond capacity. New facilities are
desperately needed. I have raised this point many times, and I think
that the circumstances warrant our support for new facilities.
Los Angeles clearly requires a new and larger courthouse. Today,
the population of Los Angeles is 3.7 million people, making it the
second most populous city in the United States. The Central District of
California's Los Angeles division is considered the largest district
court operation in the nation. The existing U.S. Courthouse on North
Spring Street opened in 1938 with 8 courtrooms. Although more
courtrooms were added by converting offices into courtrooms, our
magistrate judges currently share two courtrooms while two senior
judges and one new active district judge rotate among available
courtrooms. A second courthouse site was created three blocks away in
the Roybal Federal Building, and this facility also is filled to
capacity. We simply do not have enough space for our judges.
And the situation will only worsen. The Los Angeles court currently
has vacancies for three district judges and one magistrate judge. Two
more district judgeships will be vacant by the end of the year. When
these vacancies are filled, the court will not have the facilities in
either building to house these judges.
As originally planned, the new Los Angeles courthouse would include
thirty-three new courtrooms and would consolidate all District Court
operations into a single building. Built in downtown Los Angeles, this
facility would meet the space requirements of the Federal courts in Los
Angeles for 30 years. This project would cost approximately $379
I was disappointed in the President's budget request that reduced
funding for the planned Los Angeles courthouse. The budget recommended
$32 million for site and design, less than the $37 million recommended
I also disagree with OMB's demand to downsize the scope of the
project limiting it to a small, companion building next to the Roybal
Federal Building. By reducing the size of the new courthouse, OMB would
force the District Court to continue to operate out of two buildings
greatly diminishing the benefits provided by the original courthouse.
Two buildings would require links for prisoner, public, and staff
circulation. Furthermore, it is unclear as to where a companion
building could be erected. No space exists on the same block as the
Federal building, and no adjacent sites are viable. OMB's project would
compromise security and efficiency and would require extensive and
costly duplication in building infrastructure and support services.
It also disturbs me that OMB deleted GSA's proposed high security,
multi-defendant courtroom. This courtroom was approved by the Judicial
Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts because high
security, multi-defendant trials occur regularly in Los Angeles. For
safety and security reasons, such a courtroom is vital to the
operations of the District Court.
During a conference call with Chief Judge Terry Hatter, I was
amazed to hear that OMB required judges to share courtrooms. The judges
fear that OMB's mandate to share courtrooms represents an unwarranted
intrusion by the executive branch into the Judicial Branch, violating
the doctrine of separation of powers.
While the OMB recommendation would reduce the cost of the project
to $266 million, I strongly believe that the detriments would far
outweigh the benefits. This courthouse's value extends well beyond mere
cost-benefit analysis. As originally designed, the Los Angeles
courthouse would provide the judiciary with a quality facility and
would ease the burdens created by Los Angeles growing population. By
consolidating the District Court's operations into one large building,
the courthouse would eliminate the need for people to travel between
two court buildings, reduce the number of staff currently required by
the two buildings, permit district and magistrate courtrooms to use one
central cell block, and diminish the confusion inherently created by
two courthouses. The new courthouse, as originally designed, is not a
luxury. It is a necessity.
Fresno suffers many of the problems currently plaguing the Los
Angeles judicial system. The San Joaquin Valley area where Fresno is
located is the fastest growing area in the state, and it has been
predicted that one-fifth of the state's population will reside in the
Valley in a very short period of time. The court's caseload reveals
this population growth. Bankruptcy filings increased from 6,679 in 1995
to 11,749 in 1999 (a 76 percent growth).
The court currently is housed in the B.F. Sisk Federal Building and
Courthouse. This building, originally constructed in 1965, includes
eight courtrooms (three district, three magistrate, and two
bankruptcy). This space currently is occupied by four district judges,
three magistrate judges, and two bankruptcy judges. Within 10 years,
the court projects that the courthouse will hold eight district judges,
four magistrate judges, and four bankruptcy judges. The current
facilities simply cannot accommodate such anticipated growth. In fact,
five of the existing courtrooms were converted from office spaces and
are already substandard in size.
Because the building was not originally designed for use as a
courthouse, it fails to meet minimum security requirements for court
operations. Judges and prisoners intermingle in the same basement
corridors along with GSA contractors and delivery persons. The noise
created by prisoners in holding cells (containing dozens of prisoners
each day) often disrupts the court. A seismic evaluation was conducted,
and it determined that the courthouse is seismically unsound and that
retrofit was necessary. The cost of such repairs far exceeds the value
of the building itself. Finally, this building is a firetrap because
grates cover the windows greatly diminishing ingress or egress in case
of fire or other emergency. The current building simply is a travesty.
I am deeply concerned about this situation, and I had hoped that
the President's budget would reflect the severity of the problem.
Although the project was overlooked by the FY2001 budget, I strongly
believe that we must provide funding for a new Fresno courthouse. GSA
confirms that the project is fully ready for construction and that a
construction contract could be awarded early in FY2001 if funded this
year. The new courthouse would cost approximately $111 million. This
360,000 square-foot, 8 story building would be built on 4.5 acres in
downtown Fresno. This glass edifice would revitalize the downtown area
and would ensure a Federal presence that will help to make downtown
business districts a top priority.
Our economy is stronger than ever. To use a cliche, we should fix
the roof while the sun is shining. Well, my friends, the courthouses in
Los Angeles and Fresno have much more than roofs to fix. I think that
these courts deserve facilities that will advocate, not impede upon,
justice, and today, we can do much to provide those very buildings.
STATEMENT OF TERRY J. HATTER, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE, CENTRAL
DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
I appreciate the opportunity to submit to the subcommittee this
statement regarding the construction of a new U.S. Courthouse in Los
Angeles. Given its extremely heavy caseload and insufficient
facilities, the Federal court in Los Angeles desperately needs a new
courthouse. After extensive study, the General Services Administration
forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget a proposal for a
stand-alone courthouse that would house the District Court and related
facilities. GSA determined that a stand-alone structure would alleviate
the inefficiencies and security risks currently caused by housing the
Court in two separate buildings several blocks apart. However, as
discussed below, OMB has drastically changed that proposal. It would
now require the new building to connect to one of the existing
courthouses, and would mandate that active district court judges share
Los Angeles is the only major city in the country that does not
have a new courthouse in planning or recently constructed. Indeed,
after evaluating all proposed courthouse projects in the country, the
Administrative Office of the Courts and the Judicial Conference ranked
a new courthouse in Los Angeles as the No. 1 funding priority in the
Judiciary's 5-year courthouse construction plan. This was due in large
part to our steady growth and also to the fact that the 49 judicial
positions located in Los Angeles (23 district judges, 12 senior judges,
and 14 magistrate judges) and the court-related agencies are
interspersed among two federally owned facilities in downtown Los
Angeles (the Spring Street Courthouse and the Roybal Building), as well
as leased facilities. The result is split operations, which creates
severe administrative inefficiencies and security risks.
II. THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION'S PROPOSED PROJECT
In 1996, the Court updated its Long Range Facility Plan and
identified the need for a new courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. In
response, GSA, in cooperation with the Court, undertook extensive
studies, identifying and evaluating over a dozen alternatives.\1\
Ultimately, GSA and the Court jointly concluded that the needs of the
Federal community would best be met by constructing a new stand-alone
facility to house the entire District Court, including district, senior
and magistrate judges, the clerk's office, and related agencies. This
would allow the Bankruptcy Court (currently divided between the Roybal
Building and the Federal Building) to be consolidated in the Roybal
Building; the Office of the U.S. Attorney (currently divided between
the Federal Building and the Spring Street Courthouse) to be
consolidated in the Spring Street Courthouse; and the Federal Building
to be dedicated to Executive agencies. This alternative, described in
the GSA prospectus (attachment #1), would maximize the efficient use of
\1\ The results of the studies are documented in the Suitability of
the Roybal Building for U.S. Court Expansion, dated August 1996 by
Abide International, Inc.; the U.S. Courts Feasibility and Master Plan,
dated June 24, 1997 by Kaplan, McLaughlin, Diaz; the Roybal Study; a
Supplement to the Feasibility Study/Master Plan, dated November 1997 by
Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz; the Prospectus Development Study; Alternative
4, dated March 31, 1998 by Kaplan McLaughlin, Diaz; Prospectus
Development Study; Alternative 5, dated March 27, 1998 by Kaplan,
McLaughlin, Diaz; and the U.S. General Services Administration
Courthouse Reinvestment Project; Los Angeles Courthouse Analysis, dated
November 1998 by Ernst & Young.
GSA estimated the total cost of the proposed project to be $379.5
million. It has requested that $36.2 million be included in the fiscal
year 2001 budget for the site acquisition and design of the facility,
as described in attachment #1.
III. THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET'S PROPOSED, REVISED PROJECT
The OMB has substantially changed the proposed project for Los
Angeles, and now estimates the total cost to be $266 million, $31.5
million of which is allocated for site and design (attachment #2).
According to the budget documents, OMB's proposed project would require
(1) A companion building be constructed adjacent to and connected
with the Roybal Building. The new building would be sized to house only
the district judges, the clerk's office, and some Court-related
agencies. Magistrate judges, who are also part of the district court,
and the remaining court agencies would be housed in the Roybal
(2) The number of new courtrooms be reduced by one third, requiring
district court judges to share courtrooms.
(3) Anything considered an exception to the U.S. Courts Design
Guide be eliminated, regardless of the need for such exceptions, and
despite the fact that several exceptions already have been justified
and approved by regional and national oversight committees. The most
important of these is a high security courtroom for multi-defendant
IV. THE COURT'S CONCERNS WITH OMB'S PROPOSED PROJECT
The Court is extremely concerned that OMB's proposed revised
project disregards the findings of 3 years of extensive studies by GSA
and the Court.
A. A Companion Facility for the Roybal Building Is Not Feasible
The Court and GSA already have considered alternatives--like OMB's
current proposal--that would connect the Roybal Building to a new
companion building. In order to meet the Court's functional
requirements, a new companion facility would have to connect to the
Roybal Building in a way that would allow both buildings to act as a
single facility. This would require numerous short links between the
buildings, at various floors, to accommodate the unique types of
circulation required in a courthouse--prisoner circulation, public and
staff circulation, and separate secured circulation for judges. The
failure to provide such links would compromise security and efficiency,
and would require extensive and costly duplication in building
infrastructure and support services. There are only two ways to provide
such links--building the companion building in the same block as the
Roybal Building, or building it across a city street. Neither is
1. Building a Companion Building in the Same Block Is
While the entire block that houses the Roybal Building is under
Federal ownership, it is densely developed, and building a companion
building would require the demolition of one of the existing facilities
in the block--the Veterans Administration Building, constructed in the
early 1990's; the Federal Building, constructed in the 1960's; or the
Metropolitan Detention Center, constructed in the early 1990's.
Demolishing the Veterans Administration Building would yield a small,
roughly triangular site, that would be ill-suited to accommodate even
the minimum footprint required for a courthouse. Partial or total
demolition of the Federal Building could provide a suitable site;
however, according to GSA, it would be prohibitively expensive due to
the high cost of relocating tenants, and the long-term negative impact
to the Federal Building Fund. Demolishing and relocating the
Metropolitan Detention Center would also be cost-prohibitive, and would
defeat one advantage of locating a new building in downtown Los
Angeles--the convenience and security of having the courthouse in close
proximity to the detention center.
2. Building a Companion Building in an Adjacent Block Is
It is highly questionable whether any sites would be available on
blocks adjacent to the Roybal Building. The closest sites front on
Temple Street. They are owned by the city government, and already are
developed, or planned for development. Moreover, even the closest site
is too distant. The studies clearly indicate that links, whether by
bridge or tunnel, are not feasible for any site across the street from
the Roybal Building, due to excessive distances, extensive underground
utilities, and the City's reluctance to allow bridges across public
streets (see attachment #3).
3. Building a Companion Building Elsewhere Is Impractical
Given the above problems, the Court is concerned that a proposal
might be made to build a separate facility not connected to the Roybal
Building, and sized to house only the district and senior judges,
leaving the magistrate judges in the Roybal Building. Such a scenario
again would force the clerk's office, the court agencies and the U.S.
Marshals to run split operations, thereby duplicating cost and creating
security hazards. Such a proposal would be totally unacceptable. The
District Court has confronted exactly these difficulties for 9 years.
Building a new facility that duplicates these same problems makes
little sense. (See attachment #4, Impact to the Court of Working in
B. The Courtroom Sharing Proposed by OMB Is Contrary to Judicial
Current policy of the Judicial Conference calls for only senior
judges to share courtrooms. The proposal submitted by GSA and this
Court adhere to these Guidelines. However, in contravention of the
Guidelines, OMB would require all district court judges to share
courtrooms. Setting aside the issue of whether OMB has any
constitutional authority to dictate the Court's usage of courtrooms, it
is absolutely clear that the massive caseload in the Central District
demands that each active district and magistrate judge have their own
courtroom. There is simply too much activity for courtroom sharing to
Moreover, it should be noted that even the original GSA prospectus
for this project was based on extremely conservative growth projections
which were made 4 years ago. Only two additional district and four
additional magistrate judge positions were projected over the next 7
years. Recent growth trends in California lead the Court to anticipate
far greater growth than previously projected. The imposition of
courtroom sharing would not allow room to accommodate that growth.
C. OMB Deleted Important Program Requirements That Were Justified and
Approved by the Judicial Council
Under the GSA proposal, the new facility would include a high
security, multi-defendant courtroom. This courtroom was approved by
both the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts,
and with good reason: high security, multi-defendant trials occur
regularly in Los Angeles. In the current courthouses, one of the larger
courtrooms must be modified with platforms to hold a large number of
defendants and to allow for additional security. After the trial, the
courtroom must be restored to its original configuration. Each
modification costs $50,000 or more. OMB has deleted this aspect of
The Court urges the subcommittee to reject OMB's proposal to build
a companion facility to the Roybal Building. Three years of extensive
studies concluded that such a proposal was neither feasible nor
practical. OMB's proposal would lock the Court into a construction
project that does not meet the needs of the Court or the Los Angeles
community not even for a 10-year span, let alone the 30-year plan.
The Court also strongly opposes OMB's proposal to reduce the number
of courtrooms for this project. The project submitted by the GSA
comported with all courtroom sharing guidelines that are currently in
As proposed by OMB, this project would leave fewer courtrooms than
we presently occupy, as well as continue to leave us in the same split
court operation that we find ourselves in presently.
A high security courtroom is an essential component of the project,
as it is desperately needed by the Court. Failing to build such a
courtroom would not remedy our security issues, would be fiscally
imprudent, and will not accommodate the large number of defendants,
lawyers and court attaches (court reporters, experts) involved in
In conclusion the Court requests the support of this subcommittee
in restoring this project to its original scope as proposed by GSA.
Senator Voinovich. Senator Baucus.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MAX BAUCUS, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF MONTANA
Senator Baucus. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I want to thank both the witnesses who are here
today, Mr. Bob Peck, who has been to Montana, and I would like
to say, as a former associate to the great Senator from New
York, is a superior public servant. I've dealt with Mr. Peck,
and I can tell you, Mr. Chairman, he is tops.
Also, Judge Jane Roth, who has been before the committee
several times, has done a great job of explaining the courts'
and judiciary's view on courthouse construction.
I want to thank you again, Judge Roth, for all the work
that you've done on behalf of the judiciary. I'm looking
forward to hearing your testimony.
I personally believe, Mr. Chairman, that the partnership
between GSA and the courts is a crucial one, and, to their
credit, they have both put a lot of effort into making this
This cooperation has, over time, restored my confidence, I
must say, in the courthouse review process. They've come a long
I want to stress one thing, though--and I've said this
before--it is vital to our legal system that we do provide
proper space, proper security, and proper facilities for judges
and the courts. And I'm not talking about Italian marble
corridors or golden chandeliers, but I am talking about the
proper stature of courthouse buildings that befit our judicial
system and assist our distinguished judges in their crucial
I might say to you, Judge Roth, that, frankly, I am sitting
here as a Senator in large part because of the civil liberties
courses I took in college. I learned to revere our judicial
system. I became more cognizant of the impact on our democracy
that Supreme Court cases produced in the hallmark civil
liberties trials in our country's history. I have a very high
regard for the judiciary.
I am very pleased that the President has included new
courthouse funding in his fiscal year 2001 budget. It was very
distressing that the Administration did not include such
funding for the judiciary in its budget for the past 3 years.
I understand how distressed and frustrated the courts are
about this past omission; however, I do not believe that
proposed legislation that would circumvent the cornerstone of
the current review process is in order. I have spoken to Judge
Roth and to Judge Stahl before her about my concerns. I am
committed to helping them attain their budget goals, but I
believe we need to work within the current review system, which
we all spent a lot of time on in this committee. The broader
the review of courthouse construction, the broader will be the
support for the program.
I would say to both Judge Roth and Mr. Peck that the
courthouse program now has very strong support in this
committee. Virtually all members of this committee wrote to the
President last fall supporting funding for priority courthouse
construction. And, while the Administration did not include
full funding for the courts' priority list, I hope that this
committee and the Budget Committee can explore how best to
accommodate the fiscal year 2001 Judicial Conference requests.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Senator Baucus.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DANIEL P. MOYNIHAN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Senator Moynihan. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Welcome, Major Peck and Judge Roth.
I would open, sir, with only a general observation, which
is that for the nearly 24 years I have served on this
committee, during part of which we had the great services of
Robert Peck, we have been dealing with this bizarre problem
that OMB and we impose on ourselves, which is the requirement
that any Federal building be financed entirely in one budget
year, and that the building that might have an 80-year use span
or 180-year is paid for in year one.
One of the results of that policy has been, over time, is
that, instead of building new courthouses, we've leased them.
And at several points I can think--my memory is getting vague--
we tried to set a ratio that we would get occupancy of 60
percent in owned facilities. Is that about right, sir?
Mr. Peck. We started at 80, came down to 60.
Senator Moynihan. Yes, we started at 80 and came down to
60. But I don't think we ever got to 60. We'll hear, no doubt,
from Mr. Peck about that. So what you get is rent stubs. It is
just not logical. I mean, no business would operate this way.
They would capitalize their capital investments over time.
Then we came up with the idea of lease to own, and, if I
can say--and I'm sure that Judge Roth would agree--we have a
very happy instance of this in the Thurgood Marshall Building
across the street here, which was the third building in the
complex that was designed by the McMillan Commission after they
took the Pennsylvania Railroad Station from the bottom of
Capitol Hill and moved it down to its present site, and two
buildings meant to flank it. One was the Post Office, now the
Postal Museum. Then there was an empty lot on the other flank.
The Judiciary needed an administrative building, and we
were able to get a brilliant design, and it was built for us by
Boston Properties. We have 24 years to go until we own it
completely. In the meantime, we brought people in from rented
space at a lower rent in this lease-to-own space, because
owning the land you get so much of an advantage.
Then, just as we were beginning to think that was working
out, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 said you have to put
all lease-to-own costs in one budget. That's bizarre. I don't
think there would be any real estate business in the world that
would operate that way. All it does is raise our costs
needlessly and irrationally, and it has, among other
consequences, that courthouses don't get built. You can't quite
rent a courthouse; you have to build it. You may end up renting
it after it has been built.
And that's our case, and it is a long history, but I think
it is central to the concerns you have been showing.
I thank you.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Senator.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BOB GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF FLORIDA
Senator Graham. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I won't belabor the point, but I very much appreciate what
Senator Moynihan has just said about the issue of exercising
fiscal pragmatism in how we go about financing Federal
I'm concerned about another pragmatic aspect that relates
to what goes on inside the buildings--the purpose for which we
construct them in the first place.
This year the Office of Management and Budget is
recommending a new approach to Federal courthouses in terms of
the relationship of judges to courtrooms. Frankly, this has
caused a great deal of concern in the rapidly expanding areas
of my State, where there are unusually heavy caseload demands
upon the judges, witnessed by the fact that last year the
Congress expanded by four the number of Federal district judges
in our State, and there's great concern among the judiciary
that these changes in the relationship of courtrooms to judges
will have an adverse effect on the Administration of justice.
So I am going to be interested in understanding what the
rationale of the change in the position is and what its
implications in terms of constructing courthouses, cost to
construct, and the ultimate use of the courthouses for their
intended judicial purpose.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Senator.
STATEMENT OF HON. BOB PECK, COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC BUILDING
SERVICE, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Mr. Peck. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Senator
Baucus and Senator Moynihan and Senator Graham.
I would like to summarize my statement, and if I may have
it placed in the record and, if it is possible--I think GPO can
do this--including the graphs and charts at the back, because
they are important to the way we run our business.
I would also like to say this is the first time I have been
in front of this committee since Senator John Chafee passed
away, and I had 4\1/2\ very educational and happy years in this
committee working for Senator Moynihan, but also working very
closely with the staff of Senator Chafee, and was also
fortunate to be here when he was chairman of this committee for
so long. He was a great Senator, I thought, and a great
patriot, and I am very sorry he is no longer with us.
To put our program in perspective--and I think it is
important to do so, because the committee reviews only our
major capital projects--I would like to talk a little bit about
GSA and GSA's building function in the larger context.
GSA is, in fact, the largest owner/operator of commercial
real estate in the United States. We manage 350-million square
feet. I recently saw that the largest real estate investment
trust is now up to about 100-million square feet. We have about
185 or 190 million that we own, and the remainder we lease, as
Senator Moynihan started to talk about.
We house one million Federal employees, and that's our
job--to provide them with productive workplaces and places
where the American public can feel proud of their government
and can be well-served by those employees.
Approximately 55 percent of the space we manage is in
nearly 2,000 government-owned buildings, the remainder is in
6,400 privately owned buildings in which we lease space.
Our funding comes principally from the rents we charge to
the more than 100 Federal agencies we house, and that's the
important thing about our budget. The thing to know is that,
unlike so many other Federal agencies, we not only can talk
about running in a business-like way, we, in fact, are a
business. We collect rents, we have expenses, and, as I always
say to our employees, that means we have a bottom line which we
More than 90 percent of the $5.5 billion we will spend in
this fiscal year is paid out in the form of contracts to the
private sector, so we are, as they say in business, highly
leveraged. We are contracted out. Our people, I believe, are
the best, most competent contract supervisors in the U.S.
Government. We are fast in contracting and we are very good
superintendents of work.
It is important to note, however, that in fiscal year 2000
and again in fiscal year 2001, more than half of the
expenditures that we make will simply go in the form of lease
payments to private buildings.
When I worked here in the late 1970's and early 1980's, we
were approaching a $1 billion rent bill. We now have a $3
billion rent bill. But, as I say, that affects our net income.
We are operating more like a business than we have before.
As I mentioned last year, Mr. Chairman, we have established
nine performance measures, much like those used in the private
sector, which have quickly become known as the ``Big Nine'' in
our organization, and they are not just talking points to our
staff. They have allowed all 11 regions to compete with each
other, and we have begun giving out awards to our employees.
Let me be clear--we give out financial bonuses to our employees
based on whether they are meeting performance improvement goals
I would just note that I have copies of an article that
appeared in the ``Federal Times'' on March 6. It says,
``Rewards for Employees Reap Rewards for Agency.'' That's
exactly the case. Rewarding our employees for doing a better
job managing our buildings means that we have more net income
at our disposal for the important things that we have to do.
In business they say you get what you measure, and we have
found that. If you will refer to the charts at the end of my
testimony, you can look for yourself. Our funds from
operations--a business measure which really means net income--
have increased approximately 38 percent from fiscal year 1998
to 1999. We did that in about six quarters.
We reduced non-revenue-producing space in our total
inventory from 13 percent to 10 percent in just the last fiscal
year. And if you look at the graph, you will note that the
number is down actually to 4 percent vacancy in leased space
where we can, by consolidating vacancy, get out of a lease
altogether, if we don't need the space.
In Government space we are having a tougher time that's
because we need more money for the repairs and alterations that
make government-owned space--some of it, in old buildings--
ready and available for new tenancies. I'll talk about that a
little bit more later.
Our operating costs per square foot in government-owned
space are approximately 13 percent lower than the private
industry average. So when people ask me if we should simply
turn our management operation over to the private sector, I
say, ``Well, not until they can do it as well as we can.''
The average rents we pay in our leased buildings across the
country are at or below the average rate that private sector
tenants pay, as they should be. We are a great tenant and we
pay on time and we always pay. We've not gone bankrupt, have no
prospect of it, and we avoid cost to the Government in the tens
of millions of dollars for that.
We've reduced by 38 percent--a magic number for us, it
looks like--the amount of time it takes us to lease space for
our client agencies.
Our customer satisfaction measures, which are important
because you can save a lot of money at the expense of your
customers, have actually increased. We started counting in 1993
in a poll that we take with the Gallup organization, so that we
are honest--we don't do the numbers, they do. We've increased
from 74 percent to 80 percent in 1998, and you'll see in the
chart at the back also that this percentage has gone up
steadily every year, and it's because our people focus on those
As I said, the net income that we produce has a direct
bearing on the capital program we are proposing. By pricing
more realistically and reducing expenses, we've produced more
net income, which is our only available source to upgrade our
buildings. The only money we requested for repairs and
alterations to existing Government buildings is money that we
Now, as Senator Moynihan says, no real estate business in
the world operates this way. Many State and local governments
don't operate this way. We have unique budget scoring rules in
the Federal Government which may or may not, depending on whose
interpretation you believe, prevent us from leveraging the
value of our real estate.
To be clear, there are other Federal agencies that have
been authorized by Congress to engage in public/private
partnerships in which they are able to leverage a piece of
Federal ground, have a private sector developer either build or
renovate buildings, as the military is doing in military
housing, and then lease them back to the agency. This is
something which this committee has talked about for a long
I will note that we are proposing some new construction
funding out of our net income this year, and I will talk about
Costs is not the only consideration. As Senator Moynihan
and Senator Baucus have talked about, we believe that the
American people deserve quality when we build. Quite honestly,
we believe that they deserve a quality building when we lease a
building and cause it to be built for the Government to lease
for a long time. In fact, that was one of the issues we dealt
with in Helena, MT, Senator. Approximately 20 years ago we
built a building, or caused a building to be built which is not
as high a quality building as the Government or the people of
Helena deserve. So, we have improved the way we do design.
Last month, the ``Architectural Records'' magazine had an
article noting that GSA has really turned itself around and is
a leader in high-quality design and not lavish design, as
Senator Moynihan, I believe, once said. There's a difference
between grand and grandiose, and we believe we have stuck to
the grand, meaning buildings that reflect the dignity of the
We have improved the way we integrate our site and design
decisions with local planning and development needs--by the
way, something else we learned in Helena, MT, and Billings, as
Finally, we have kicked off what we call a ``First
Impressions Program,'' because many of the experiences that the
American public has with the Federal Government and the
impression they have of how well we do our job is the
impression they gain when they walk into a Federal building. We
believe that those building lobbies and entryways should be
clear, crisp, and informative, and not, as they are in too many
cases, I believe, dark and confusing.
But, to get to our capital investment and leasing program,
as you noted, we have a substantial new construction program
and a substantial repair and alteration program. I'll just note
for you that here, too, we have brought in business-like
measures. When we decide how to allocate the money that we are
permitted to spend in the President's budget, we have set some
business-like criteria, including the use of a private sector
method in which we determine a return on investment, which
basically means if we put a certain amount of money into a
building to be repaired, we expect to see a certain return in
the level of rent we charge. This approach is similar to the
way that private sector people decide whether or not to do a
project. It's the way we do it, as well.
We have a particular problem with our owned inventory. More
than half of our buildings are more than 50 years old. Nearly a
quarter of the inventory is historic. Although we are proposing
a very substantial budget this year of $721 million for major
and minor repairs, an 8 percent increase over the year 2000, I
will just note that the amount of money we allocate for repairs
and alterations is about 2 to 2.5 percent of the market value
of our inventory. The private sector benchmark is to spend 2 to
4 percent of that value on an inventory.
When you have an old and aging inventory, you should
probably be at the high end of that range, rather than at the
low end, as we are.
Moreover, if we don't fix up our buildings, when we go to
set rents, we have to lower them. As a building deteriorates,
you have to charge lower rents. If you charge lower rents, you
have less money available to repair, and then, again, you
charge lower rents and you can get yourself into a real vicious
Again, we are proposing what we believe is an adequate
repair and alteration program to keep up with needs, but I note
that we have a significant backlog, which I don't think we are
yet addressing, although we are working on it.
For new construction, we are proposing to fund seven border
stations through revenues generated by the building fund--in
other words, out of our net income. We are proposing demolition
and construction of the new U.S. mission to the United Nations,
and the acquisition of a site and design for a new FBI
And I will note again, this is a bit of a departure.
Although we had funded border stations out of our net income
before, we have not, in the past several years, in my memory,
proposed funding out of our net income for major projects like
the U.S. mission to the U.N. and the FBI field office. We
believe that some projects like that which are of urgent
security needs should be funded immediately out of net income.
But we do, as we have always said in the past, believe that
most new construction needs to be funded out of direct
appropriations. The Congress has acknowledged this over the
last 10 years or so with several billion dollars worth of
appropriations for new buildings.
As you noted, Mr. Chairman, we are requesting funding for
seven courthouse projects. We are also requesting funding for
the Food and Drug Administration consolidation in Montgomery
County, Maryland, and a new building for the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms in Washington.
Finally, I'll just note that we have requested
authorization for a new construction project in Suitland, MD.
The Department of Commerce last year was provided an
appropriation for a new building. It is very important for the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and it is
critical to the Nation's weather forecasting. We need an
authorization to be able to actually spend that money.
A number of Senators have already talked about our
courthouse program, and I will note that the Administration's
view is that courtroom sharing can be a cost-effective means
for providing space needed by the courts. By going to a
courtroom sharing model, we have eliminated 22 courtrooms in
the seven courthouse projects that were proposed in the budget
from what we had originally studied.
The savings in fiscal year 2001 budget from the reduction
in courtrooms is approximately $25 million, and we believe that
that could save another $33 million in future years.
Again, in the project that Senator Boxer referred to in Los
Angeles, we believe we can save about $85 million by
constructing a companion building to the Roybal Building in Los
Courtroom sharing is something that has been discussed for
many years. The issue is fundamentally this: where there is a
large courthouse with many judges, we are proposing a separate
office for each judge. Let me be clear that we are doing that.
But not every courtroom is in use every time, and I do believe
that it is possible to share courtrooms in large courthouses.
In some cases judges do this already, not necessarily because
they want to, but because we simply don't have enough room.
Now, I have to be honest with you. We don't have clear and
convincing evidence, as the lawyers would say, of what the
right ratio might be once you start talking about sharing.
However, neither do we have clear and convincing evidence that
it is necessary to have one courtroom for every active judge.
There is, however, a tradition that this is the case.
The courts have undertaken a utilization study--which
unfortunately is not yet ready--to determine whether sharing is
feasible. I will say that the Office of Management and Budget
and GSA have talked for years about what the sharing ratio
This year the Administration proposed a ratio of two-
thirds. I believe--although I was not privy to the final
decision on what ratio of sharing would be used--that this two-
thirds ratio was based on a GAO study of several years ago
which suggested that courtrooms are in use about 65 percent of
As I said, we are all new to this issue, and that's the
ratio we have proposed for this year.
Finally, we have proposed to you 12 lease prospectuses
which are over the threshold limit. This is a bit misleading in
the sense that, although they total approximately $80 million
in obligations in fiscal year 2001, this is just the tip of the
iceberg. Once you start leasing you lease for a long time.
I suspect, although I have not run the numbers on these
particular leases, we are talking about at least $500 million
in total Federal cost just on the period of those leases to
which we are currently obligated.
We are working to control the growth of our leased
inventory. We have sort of leveled off at about a 55/45
government-owned to lease ratio, in part because we are
building new courthouses.
Interestingly enough, our focus on net income has forced us
to look at this issue. When we lease a building we basically
pass through the cost to our tenants. It generates no net
income for us. It is not a good fiscal contributor to our
program, so we have an added incentive to move toward
I have only two more points.
We do believe that it would be useful to take a look at
raising the threshold limit. We have noted that if we were to
increase the threshold limit to about $5 million, you would see
only three fewer construction prospectuses and a few fewer
lease and repair and alteration prospectuses. The latter two
tend to be somewhat routine. We believe that you would still be
able to focus on large construction projects, which have
traditionally been the concern of this committee and that in
My final point is this: we have, since the Oklahoma City
bombing, doubled our rate of spending on security. It is a very
serious topic for us. Our security people, as we discussed last
fall at a conference that Senator Moynihan was kind enough to
keynote, we have a very difficult mission in the Public
Building Service. Our job is to protect the people who work in
the building, the people who visit it, and, at the same time,
to keep our buildings from becoming fortresses that are
foreboding, forbidding, and unwelcoming to the American public
for whom they are built.
In order to do that, we have, in the past several years,
refocused the mission of the Federal Protective Service. We
have increased cross-training so that eventually every
uniformed officer will also be an expert in physical security.
We have intensified our intelligence efforts. We have
intensified training of every part of the organization, and we
have just upgraded the contracts for the private security
I have to tell you, I am very concerned that a bill that
was just approved by the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee would jeopardize security by making
the Federal Protective Service, which is currently an arm of
the Public Building Service, a separate agency within GSA.
Here is my concern in a nutshell: security is not something
you can do in a vacuum. The design and management of our
buildings need to be welded with the security force. They need
to be fused and seamless, not polarized; I believe a separate
security service would be a huge mistake. It is a solution to a
problem that does not exist.
Some in the ranks in the Federal Protective Service
possibly would like to see a separate service. I think those
are some of the members who are still going on a model which
should have gone out the window when Oklahoma City happened.
I need your support if this bill comes to the Senate. I
hope I can talk to you further about this very serious issue.
That concludes my prepared statement, and I will be happy,
obviously, to answer any questions you might have.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Mr. Peck.
At the request of the members of the committee, we'd like
to hear from Judge Roth, and then have the two of you, if you
would, be kind enough to respond to our questions.
Judge Roth, we are very happy to welcome you again this
year. As I mentioned to you earlier, we have made some
STATEMENT OF HON. JANE R. ROTH, U.S. JUDGE, THIRD CIRCUIT COURT
OF APPEALS, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON SECURITY
Judge Roth. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It is a pleasure for me to be here on this very rainy
morning. I will summarize my statement. I will touch upon
courtroom sharing, but if there are any additional questions
from the members of the committee, I will be very happy to
My name is Jane Roth. I serve as a judge on the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals and as chairman of the Judicial
Conference's Committee on Security and Facilities.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the
subcommittee today to discuss the courthouse projects scheduled
for fiscal year 2001 under the Judiciary's prioritized 5-year
plan, and also to summarize the Judiciary's continuous efforts
to review and improve management of the courthouse construction
We appreciate the continued willingness of this
subcommittee, of the full committee, and of your staff to work
with us to make improvements. In particular, we hope you will
authorize projects at the levels originally submitted by GSA to
the Office of Management and Budget, which will incorporate all
projects that can be ready for design, site, or construction
contract award in fiscal year 2001.
President Clinton's fiscal year 2001 budget request
includes $488 million for seven new courthouse construction
projects. This request for courthouse projects is the first
since fiscal year 1997. The President's request does not,
however, include all the projects which GSA proposed to OMB.
We are concerned by the Administration's failure to include
funds for all the projects which need site, design or
construction funding in fiscal year 2001.
We are also concerned by OMB's reduction of the size of the
projects which were submitted to you. We are informed that the
funding levels for these seven projects is based on an
assumption that only two courtrooms will be provided for every
three active district, senior magistrate and bankruptcy judges.
We ask that you take action to restore the levels of
funding for the courthouse program to those proposed by GSA
prior to OMB's arbitrary action.
The shortsightedness of OMB's actions is obvious when the
courts are experiencing an ever-increasing work load.
Statements from Judge Edwards in Washington, DC.; Judge
Conway in Las Cruces, NM; and Judge Sretney in Buffalo, NY have
been provided, and I would also like to present at this time
statements from Judge Hatter in Los Angeles, CA and Judge Davis
in Miami, FL. I ask that they be included in the record to help
you appreciate the impact of OMB's reduction.
Judge Roth. The Administration chose not to request funding
for courthouse construction in the budget for the previous 3
years. Congress was able to appropriate funds for courthouses
in only one of these years. This lack of funding has created a
backlog of projects and has placed GSA woefully behind schedule
in delivering needed space for the courts. The courts,
therefore, must continue to operate in facilities that are
unsafe, overcrowded, and substandard.
The Judicial Conference's fiscal year 2001 request includes
19 projects which are ready to go. The total cost of these
projects is about $800 million, based on GSA's September 1999
estimates. Seventeen of these projects were included in GSA's
original request to OMB.
In addition, based on current information, two more
projects should be ready for construction contract award in
fiscal year 2001.
All of these projects are needed and will only fall further
behind schedule if not funded. A listing of these projects in
priority order is attached to my statement.
The work load of the Federal courts has grown tremendously
over the past 10 to 15 years, largely as a result of
legislative efforts to wage a Federal war on crime and the
illegal drug trade.
The courthouse projects on the list for funding in fiscal
year 2001 are in areas of the country where there is dynamic
population growth combined with an increase in law enforcement
I have attached to my written statement fact sheets that
describe the current situation and the need for the fiscal year
2001 projects in the Judicial Conference's 5-year courthouse
In recent years, the judiciary has continually reviewed and
significantly improved the operation of the courthouse
construction program. As part of our ongoing commitment to cost
containment and program assessment and evaluation, we
contracted with the consulting firm of Ernst & Young to review
our entire space and facilities program. The study, which is
close to completion, will address courtroom sharing and
utilization, our long-range planning process, courthouse design
assumptions, internal space management policies, business
practices, funding mechanisms, and resource allocations
We expect a final report at the end of April for review by
the Conference's Committee on Security and Facilities. In the
meantime, however, it is critical that the courthouse
construction program continue to move forward.
Ernst & Young has reported to the judiciary that the court
projects requested by GSA in the fiscal year 2001 budget are
the result of methodical planning and review processes put in
place by the Judiciary and GSA.
On courtroom sharing, for the past few years this topic has
been in the forefront of congressional and executive branch
inquiry. It has been suggested that, because most courts are
not in use 100 percent of the time, Federal judges should be
able to share courtrooms in order to save the cost of
The GAO report, which estimated 65 percent actual use of
courtrooms, did not have a recommendation on courtroom sharing.
The Rand Report did not have a recommendation on courtroom
sharing. Both reports advised that further study should be
done. It was for that reason that the Judiciary has contracted
with Ernst & Young to provide the report that they are
Ernst & Young will recommend that every active district
judge have a courtroom for that judge's use; that there are
possibilities for courtroom sharing among senior judges,
depending upon the work load involved, but that sharing of
courtrooms by active judges under the circumstances of the
judiciary is not possible.
If you conclude that 65 percent use of one courtroom by one
judge should be upped to 100 percent use of two courtrooms by
three judges sharing the two courtrooms, you are, in effect,
saying that a courtroom must be used 100 percent of the time.
This is an impossibility in the judicial system, where you
cannot predict the length of a trial, you cannot predict
whether a trial will take place in the first place, or whether
a trial will be settled on the courthouse step. If it were, you
can't plug a new trial into the courtroom for that day. There
is a certain lead time that is required, there's certain notice
necessary in order to move one trial up to replace a trial
which did not take place. You must consider these factors in
courtroom scheduling. You must consider the cost and expense of
delays in trial.
When I was a lawyer practicing in Wilmington, DE, the
Delaware State courts for a while were unable to provide a
courtroom for the scheduled trials. I had the experience of
arriving in the courthouse with my clients to take a case to
trial to be told at the courthouse door that, ``We're very
sorry. We don't have a courtroom for you today. Go home. Come
back again when we can reschedule you.''
This is not justice. This is not just to the litigants, it
is not to the system of administration of justice.
It is factors like this which Ernst & Young are taking into
account in their recommendation. The Judiciary very strongly
supports the position that the Judicial Conference took in 1997
that administration of justice requires one courtroom for every
active district judge.
In Federal courts, moreover, the cost of a courtroom, when
compared over its lifetime to the overall cost of the
courthouse, is not substantial. In Federal courts where
courtroom sharing among active judges has occurred out of
necessity, judges have reported serious difficulties. For
example, the 3 to 2 ratio of courtrooms to judges suggested by
OMB is currently in effect in the Federal District Courthouse
in Brooklyn, NY, while a new facility is under construction.
Senator Moynihan. Exactly so. That has been a disaster.
Sorry, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Voinovich. That's all right.
Judge Roth. The judges, staff, and others affected have
struggled to make it through this temporary situation, but, as
Senator Moynihan said, it has been a disaster. They have
maintained the operation of their court, but it has been at a
very serious toll on the stamina and the whole structure of the
court system in that district to keep the court going.
The judges in Brooklyn are uniform in concluding that
courtroom sharing has strained the operational effectiveness of
the court, and that courtroom sharing, as a permanent policy,
would be counterproductive.
A 3 to 2 judge-courtroom ratio causes chaos in a system
that requires an orderly process in order to be fair and just.
The judiciary continues to review and update its
prioritization of courthouse projects using a weighted scoring
methodology. I am very concerned, however, that continued
delays in funding courthouses or reductions in the sizes of the
buildings could result in a breakdown of this prioritization
process, with individual districts attempting to fulfill their
needs without regard to the established process.
We ask that you take action to authorize the new
construction projects on the attached list in fiscal year 2001
at the levels originally calculated by GSA in September 1999.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the
subcommittee. I would be pleased to answer any questions that
you might have.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Judge Roth.
If I am not mistaken, this list that I have before me that
starts with Los Angeles and goes down to Erie, PA--there are 18
projects on this list--the projects submitted by OMB, but for
Buffalo, and I think Springfield is left off the list because
it is not ready--does that reflect your priority list?
Judge Roth. Yes, it does, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Voinovich. Which I think is pretty significant. In
fact, in effect, your process of going through and ranking, and
you've come back and said these are the priority projects,
which is comforting.
Mr. Peck, I want to congratulate you on doing an
outstanding job. I echo the comments of Senator Moynihan. I had
an opportunity to observe carefully the job that your folks are
doing in Cleveland, and also have been impressed with your
testimony last year in terms of empowerment of your employees
and incentive systems and your performance standards. It would
be comforting to know that other Federal agencies did adopt
performance standards and that they had some meaning in terms
of their compensation. That would, I think, go a long way to
improve the delivery of services and the quality of services in
Since this issue of two courtrooms for three judges is on
the table, the question I have is: did the Office of Management
and Budget consult with the General Services Administration in
making their recommendation, or did they make this
recommendation based on something that someone else had
submitted to them?
Mr. Peck. It depends on what the meaning of ``consult'' is.
Senator Voinovich. Well, they're putting their budget
together, and ``consult'' means they sat down with you, and
either you suggested to them, when they put their budget
together, that they ought to give consideration to this option,
or, in the alternative, after you submitted it they came back
to you and said, ``You know, we have a new idea or a good idea,
and we can cut our costs and get more done.''
Mr. Peck. That's not exactly the way it happened.
We had, over the past several years, talked to them about
the possibility of courtroom sharing. And I have to say, we do
agree that it must be possible to share courtrooms in some
instances, and here are the instances. If one were to have a
courthouse in which there were, say, 44 judges, I think it
would be safe to assume you could probably do with 40
courtrooms, perhaps 38. On any given day, some of the judges
are on vacation or at a conference, for instance.
If you have four judges in a courthouse, which is the case
in a number of courthouses, it is not as clear to me, just
intuitively, that you can make do as well with three. It's
quite conceivable that all four are there a good measure of the
The problem is that none of us quite know what the right
number would be or where the cutoff would be.
We had talked to OMB in years past about, at some point,
sort of forcing the issue by saying we should probably take
some money off the table in a couple of courthouses, and we
never quite got to where we might be.
I will just tell you, quite candidly, this year we
submitted a project list, as everyone knows, that included
basically the design guide requirements, which is one courtroom
per active judge, and actually revised our list a second time,
when asked by OMB to come back with one that would allow no
departures from that guideline. In some courthouses, there have
been requests for even additional courtrooms.
So we came back with what was called a ``departure list,''
and OMB then came back with the list that was based on the two-
As I said, I was not privy to the coming up with that
number, and it's hard to know what the scientific number would
be. So I don't want to fault OMB for coming up with a number,
which one could at least say is something that you might try.
On the other hand, I can't really say with great confidence
that I know that this ratio will work in every single instance.
Senator Voinovich. Well, would you conclude that maybe in
some instances that system would work and other circumstances
Mr. Peck. My hunch--and we're all going on hunches--is that
this system could work on very large courthouse projects--and I
don't know what ``very large'' means. In my mind, projects
having more than 25 or 24 courtrooms could accommodate sharing.
In courthouses smaller than that level, I'm not sure. I suspect
you could in one with 16 or 12, but I don't know. We don't
really know enough.
And I was hoping the Ernst & Young study would be available
by now, quite honestly, because you need to look at what kinds
of things judges do in their courtrooms, how often do they need
a large well, as opposed to not needing it, and all those kinds
Senator Voinovich. Will the Ernst & Young study come back,
and was that the question that was asked of them to come back
with the recommendations?
Mr. Peck. Yes, sir, and at the urging of the Congress. So
it has been going on for a while.
Senator Voinovich. Because I know that, according to--65
percent of the courtrooms--the courtrooms were utilized 65
percent of the time, according to this.
Mr. Peck. I have to say, I mean, Judge Roth said that. It
is true that, to some extent, a judge having a courtroom
available for court--I have been a lawyer--the judge saying,
``I'm ready to go to trial'' does force people to settle, and
knowing that the courtroom is available is significant. And, as
she noted, too, sometimes you have it scheduled, and the day of
the trial everybody says, ``I really don't want to go through
with this,'' so the courtroom is then vacant for that day or
several days. It is therefore not quite fair to say that this
was a total waste of space.
The other thing to put in perspective, I previously noted
some numbers. We save about $1.9 million, on average, by
cutting out a courtroom and its ancillary spaces, such as a
holding cell. We have to put that in the context of the larger
projects. When we build a courthouse, we're building space for
the clerks, often the probation office, the U.S. Attorneys, and
sometimes the U.S. Marshals, so there are lots of other spaces.
It is a marginal cost reduction.
On the one hand, it is not that much per courtroom. In the
total program, however, significant sharing would generate a
lot of savings. But whether you can get significant sharing and
still carry out the functions of the court I still think is an
Senator Voinovich. Well, it is interesting that the GSA
estimate was $714 million, and then the OMB came back with
theirs and it was 675. You're talking $39 million. I don't know
what the percentage is, but that doesn't seem to be such large
savings as a result of going to this new system.
One last question, and that is technology. Does that have
any impact at all, in terms of, let's say, the subject that
we're talking about now, in terms of courtrooms?
I know in our county, Cuyahoga, Cleveland, we have some
really outstanding work being done by judges using technology.
Does that at all impact on the size of courtrooms or needs or
anything of that sort?
Mr. Peck. It has not had an impact on the size of the
courtrooms. It does, to a certain extent, on the expense. But I
have to say, most of the expense is not in the cost that you
are seeing here--the actual cost of construction--although
we're doing a lot of what are called ``raised floors'' so you
can easily get to the cabling below. The courts are spending a
lot of money on technology in the courtroom and on visual
Senator Voinovich. But it has got no impact on space or
anything of that sort?
Mr. Peck. It hasn't yet. We have found that there is enough
space so far in the wells of the courtroom to accommodate the
equipment, and so it has not. We have a 2,400-square foot
standard courtroom size, which seems to be adequate to
accommodate this at the moment.
And remember, too, we build courtrooms with higher
ceilings, which are basically a floor-and-a-half or close to a
two-story space, compared to the normal office floor. So you
have a little bit of room to play with there, getting your
cabling underneath the floor without adding any more space.
Senator Voinovich. Judge Roth, would you like to comment?
And then I'll ask Senator Baucus if he has any questions.
Judge Roth. Yes, I would. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think another factor to take in mind, which you pointed
out, is that the cost of the extra courtrooms is not that
significant. Our figures indicate to us that, over the lifetime
of a courthouse, the cost of a courtroom and its ancillary
rooms, like holding cells, is $50,000.
If these courtrooms are not built, it is going to be that
much sooner that the judiciary is going to have to come back to
you and say, ``We are busting at the seams of this courthouse.
We need a new courthouse built.''
So I think when you balance the cost of the courtroom
against the greater need we're going to have at a sooner time
for more courthouses, that is a counter-balance.
I think there is a cost to the whole litigation process if
you are attempting to utilize courtrooms 100 percent of the
time, because, as I said, you can't predict how long a trial is
going to last. In a criminal trial you can't force the defense
attorney to commit up front whether his client is going to
testify or not, so that in scheduling for trials you have to
estimate the amount of time.
In civil trials you have a little more control over the
length of the trial, but even then, with a juror or a witness
who can't appear as scheduled, you simply cannot say, ``This
trial will begin at this moment and end at that moment.''
The GAO study did not include the scheduling of the
courtrooms that were examined. It did not determine that the
lights were off in Courtroom A because there was nothing to be
done or because there had been a scheduled procedure which had
been canceled at the last minute.
Ernst & Young has taken all these factors into account, has
interviewed judges, has interviewed people involved in the
whole process, and, as I mentioned, we understand that their
report will support the position that there should be one
courtroom for every active district judge.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you, Judge.
Senator Baucus. Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
We'll all be looking at that report when it comes out,
obviously. I understand, too, that the Appropriations Committee
has requested a report, and that, too, will be interesting when
it is available.
I'm just wondering, Judge, is there any trend over the
number of either civil or criminal cases that are brought as to
whether they actually go to trial? Is there a trend? Is it the
same percent filed go to trial on the civil side as indictments
on the criminal?
Judge Roth. Most civil cases get settled, most criminal
cases result in a plea agreement. The Administrative Office of
the U.S. Courts keeps statistics on that. I certainly can
provide the committee with those statistics if you would be
interested in having them.
I know that the Federal sentencing guidelines have, I
believe, resulted in a higher percentage of pleas in criminal
cases because of the acceptance of responsibility benefits that
a defendant can receive.
Frequently, there is no plea until the defendant sees that
the trial is imminent in a criminal case. There is no
settlement in a civil case until there is a courtroom where the
trial will be scheduled, the lawyers know that the scheduling
is firm, and that on that day they are going to have to appear
with their client and go to trial. That's when the lawyers
really sit down and think about what is the likely outcome of
this case. Am I better off making an offer, accepting an offer?
Many, many cases, settle within the last week before the trial.
Senator Baucus. Right. Now, this 65 percent figure, has
that been static the last 10 years, or is that also an evolving
Judge Roth. That is a one shot, a GAO team saying----
Senator Baucus. Is that one shot over a year, over a month,
Judge Roth. I don't think it was that. I'm not sure of the
period. It was one shot in 12 courts. Looking at that one shot,
they said further study is required. Rand said further study is
required. That's why we contracted with Ernst & Young.
Senator Baucus. I see. That was just a snapshot taken of 12
Judge Roth. Exactly.
Mr. Peck. That's my understanding, too. They just walked
through and saw if the courtroom was in use or not. They didn't
ask--I don't think--many questions about why.
Senator Baucus. It was a very comprehensive study.
Senator Baucus. Nevertheless, Judge Roth, I mean, I do
think what Mr. Peck said has some ring of truth to it. That is,
there may be a very large courthouse where it might be
reasonable to schedule rooms--and whether the ratio is not 2 to
3, or it may be 44 to 45, or something like that. Who knows? I
mean, why are you saying that absolutely, categorically in no
case can there be fewer courtrooms than judges in a courthouse?
Judge Roth. Senator Baucus, I think we should keep in mind,
too, that the areas with large courthouses are the very busy
areas. Los Angeles, CA, and Miami, FL are, for instance, two
courthouses which are affected on the list this year. They are
among the busiest courts in the country. The courtrooms there
are very busy.
If you cut down on the number of courtrooms in those
buildings, because of the nature of the business there, the
large percentage of criminal cases which are being tried there,
the growing population and the expanding case load, I think
that you are going to find yourself, in a very short time,
needing a new building in such an area if you attempt to
shortchange a large building by one or two or four courtrooms.
The building is estimated for 10 years out. By the time the
building gets built, we're already 7 years out, so that we are
almost at the full capacity of the building. In some areas with
a high case load, as you have in Florida, and California, when
you are 7 years out you have already bypassed your 10-year-out
I think one can say theoretically that it is easier to
share in a large building, but when you take the practicality
of where these large buildings are, I don't think it is a wise
decision to say we should reduce the courtrooms in these
Senator Baucus. You make some very good points. I
I have a couple other questions. No. 1, Mr. Peck, there is
a discrepancy in the funding of border stations in the north
compared with the funding of border stations in the south. For
example, the station in Raven, MT, is $577,000. Well, three
border stations in Texas cost in the neighborhood of $2 million
each--four times, roughly. Why?
Mr. Peck. It is a fair question. Your numbers are about
Senator Baucus. I hope so.
Mr. Peck. Our budgets for the border stations are based on
the requirements that are given to us by what are collectively
known as the ``inspection agencies,'' such as Agriculture,
Immigration, and Customs. Although you should really talk to
them, the real answer is that the requirements for inspection
tend to be more onerous on the southern border than on the
northern border. I don't want to speculate on that,
particularly, so that I don't cause an international incident.
There are more-intensive secondary inspections, for
example, on the southern border than on the northern border
when you have truck traffic coming through, and that seems to
be the case when we took a look at it. This seems to be what is
driving the cost right now, the cost differential right now.
[The information referred to follows:]
Response by Robert Peck to a Question from Senator Baucus
Question. Please explain the discrepancies in funding for the
Northern border versus the Southern border projects.
Response. The following projects were proposed in the fiscal year
Eagle Pass, TX, Phase II Expansion......................... $28,108,000
Del Rio, TX, Phase III Expansion........................... 22,144,000
Fort Hancock, TX........................................... 2,400,000
Jackman, ME................................................ $7,053,000
Raymond, MT................................................ 6,544,000
Sault Sainte Marie, MI..................................... 12,465,000
Roosville, MT.............................................. 7,645,000
Border stations are built to meet the needs and requirements of the
Federal inspection agencies. The higher overall costs of proposed
facilities along the Southern border is attributed to a number of
Inspection of commercial and non-commercial traffic is
different along the southern border due to required immigration and
drug interdiction efforts.
Site development costs is substantially more costly at
southern border stations than northern border stations. This cost
differential is primarily due to amount of land area needed. Less dock
space, queuing, and secondary inspection area, for example, are needed
at the northern border. The average land area at stations on the
northern border is 7 acres. Along the southern border, this land area
is 26 acres.
Traffic volumes for commercial and non-commercial
vehicles, buses, and pedestrians are often substantially higher at
southern border stations. For instance at Eagle Pass and Del Rio, TX,
the non-commercial traffic totals nearly 2,000,000 vehicles a year at
each station, while the traffic count for Jackman, ME, Raymond, MT, and
Roosville, MT, does not reach 100,000 vehicles a year per station. In
addition, the commercial traffic at Del Rio and Eagle Pass (59,000 and
105,000 respectively) exceed the commercial traffic at Raymond and
Roosville (17,000 and 25,000, respectively). The larger traffic volumes
are reflected in larger facilities, resulting in a higher project cost.
There are cases along the southern border where smaller facilities
are required, such as the Fort Hancock, TX, project. Along the northern
border, we are developing projects of a larger scope, such as one at
Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, MI.
Senator Baucus. OK. I'd appreciate it, though, if you would
take a look at that. And we will, too.
I want to thank you, Judge, as the chairman has said, for
ranking courthouse construction. That has been a matter that we
have been talking about over the last couple years, and I
deeply appreciate that Judiciary has ranked.
A question I have for the Administration is: here I have
this list of construction projects, courthouse construction
projects that the Judiciary has ranked, and the Administration
has agreed with this ranking on No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No.
5, and then suddenly things change. The Administration slips
down to--bypasses Buffalo, NY, and it bypasses Springfield,
which apparently is not ready, and it goes to eight. Then it
bypasses El Paso, Mobile, Fresno, Norfolk, Las Cruces, and ends
up at Little Rock, AR. What happened?
Mr. Peck. I know that last one looks strange. Let me
Mr. Peck. I have an answer. Let me start at the top.
Eugene and Springfield were simply dropped out because of
site issues. In one case at least, the site we originally
thought we were going to get for a courthouse has turned out
not to be a site we're going to get, for various local
community reasons. In Springfield, also, we've had trouble
getting a site, so we're just not ready to go forward with
construction in fiscal year 2001.
Miami, which was also funded--you have to remember that OMB
decided on an overall amount of discretionary spending it was
prepared to put into this program. This is where I was not
consulted and, quite honestly, would not expect to be. I mean,
they moved some mountains internally to make the funding
available that they did.
Miami was the next one ready to go as a construction
project, and it fit within the cap.
The other projects, starting with Buffalo and running
through Nashville onsite and design, at least, and some
additional design for Erie, PA, were just beyond the point. OMB
decided on what their overall spending limit was going to be
and knocked out every project beyond that except for Little
Rock. In Little Rock, we have already done a design, unlike all
the other projects where we haven't even started a design. The
scope of the project changed a bit, and so we just needed $1.8
million more to finish the design and then be ready to move
forward with construction. I mean, this was the justification
for Little Rock.
On Little Rock I have to say, I can't say this is
categorically the rationale I'm pretty certain that this is the
answer on Little Rock and not anything that might otherwise
To be perfectly blunt, I think the President in Little Rock
is concerned with construction of the Presidential Library and
not with the renovation of this courthouse.
But there, too, I have to say there are a couple of other
projects. Buffalo was the next one onsite and design that was
in priority order. There was a $3.6 million number, and just,
whatever the cutoff was, it didn't make the cutoff. We haven't
started the design process on Buffalo. We all do recognize that
Buffalo and the others are necessary projects.
Senator Baucus. Judge, do you have any comments on this
change in priority from the Judiciary's point of view?
Judge Roth. No, I don't, Senator Baucus.
Senator Baucus. OK. I thank the chairman.
Senator Voinovich. Thank you.
Senator Moynihan. Mr. Chairman, may I just add to the
comments that Judge Roth has made and volunteer that we've had
a test of the two courthouses for three judges in Brooklyn, the
eastern district of New York, which involves lots of the issues
of war on crime and illegal drugs that you speak of and has
Kennedy Airport and all those things.
Sir, the judges--it is beyond us. We have a court. It has
been financed and not asking for anything. I'm just reporting
they just found it was very difficult.
Among other things, as the judge says, the fact that there
is a courtroom there ready for a trial is a huge inducement to
settlement, and if you know that, well, OK, the next thing is
you're going to be sitting in front of a Federal judge and
think about that, it's just--and part of the dignity of the
judiciary, a judge has his courtroom.
The last 15 years, we have been adding two death penalties
a year to the Federal code, and putting them into these
In 1955, we made a certain amount of history by restricting
habeas corpus so we could get to, you know.
I think it is fair to say, if you had to pick a country in
which they had free elections as against a country in which
they had habeas corpus, pick habeas corpus every time. But we
got rid of that so there would be more.
And OMB has advised the President to sign all these bills,
both kinds of Presidents. It comes with ill grace, it seems to
me, at this point, to say, ``But we don't want to have enough
courtrooms to try the cases.''
But I would like to ask, if I can, Major Peck, what is this
business of taking the Protective Service out of the Public
Buildings, which puts up the buildings with those services in
mind and having another bureaucracy and another--what's going
Mr. Peck. Well, I have to say----
Senator Moynihan. Surely it is not going to be cost
Mr. Peck. Right. The bill that has passed the House
Committee actually has some beneficial provisions in it that
would increase pay for the Federal Protective Service officers
and clarify their jurisdiction, which is important. This idea,
however, of separating the Service, I'm not quite sure where it
came from or why it was considered a good idea. But you are
right; there would be additional administrative costs.
But, for me, the fundamental issue is that it is a
simplistic response. Some sense that if one simply makes an
agency independent, it will be more effective. In this case, it
seems that just the opposite is true. For the people who do
security, this is a service which is not in business to serve
warrants or to enforce the drug laws in our communities. It is
in existence solely and its jurisdiction is restricted to
defending Federal property, and the Federal property under the
jurisdiction of GSA.
So it seems quite logical that you would want them to be
joined at the hip with the people who decide whether the door
is going to be fixed, whether a security alarm which is broken
will be made to work.
That is, in fact, what we have. But, I mean, obviously,
ideas don't come out of nowhere. I think there has been on the
part of people in the Federal Protective Service a sense that
they were somewhat neglected. I think the opposite has now
happened. Some of the members I believe now believe that they,
at least from me, are being too closely scrutinized, having
been left on their own to define the mission, themselves. I do
know a little bit about security and defining mission from the
military, and I have defined the mission, and perhaps in a way
that some don't like.
The mission is security in the buildings, and some would
prefer to chase speeders down Interstate 95, a jurisdiction we
don't have, and shouldn't have, and don't need to be expert in
because others do it and do it better.
So, you could say, we have a little internal family
We have devoted, as I've noted, more resources to training
and to technology, and I believe we are doing a great job; I
worry that some of the impetus for this separate service is, in
fact, to get out from under some of these reforms, and I'm
quite concerned about what the result could be.
Senator Moynihan. Well, I couldn't more agree. The idea
that you have put up buildings with security in mind, you run
them with security in mind, and that security involves the
specific officers who are assigned it.
Judge Roth. Excuse me, Senator Moynihan, could I add
something to what Mr. Peck has said?
Senator Moynihan. Your Honor?
Judge Roth. The security of the courts is the
responsibility of the U.S. Marshals Service, and under them the
court security officers, and we are very concerned about this
legislation because it does not define how the Federal
Protective Service's jurisdiction would line up with the
Senator Moynihan. Yes.
Judge Roth. We tried to get an amendment in to clarify that
this legislation would in no way impinge upon the legislative
responsibilities of the Marshals Service. We were unable to get
that amendment in, and for that reason we have very serious
concerns about this legislation.
We also feel that the more cooks you have providing
security--and my committee is involved with court security--the
more cooks you have, the more problem you're going to have
getting a good soup out, and for that reason we think we have
Senator Moynihan. I will stop right there, Mr. Chairman,
and suggest to you that when that bill comes over here we let
it go nowhere. I just offer that as a thought.
Thank you very much.
Senator Voinovich. Senator Graham.
Senator Graham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I share what I think is the feeling of this committee that
the idea of having a policy which restricts the number of
courtrooms to less than the number of active judges is wrong-
headed, but I would even go beyond that and say the idea of
having a single policy for every one of the 95 Federal
districts is also nonsensical.
If I could use as an example the situation in the southern
district of Florida, which is one of the districts affected by
this judgment, of the 95 U.S. Federal districts, last year the
No. 2 district in terms of jury trials was the southern
district of Texas, with 293 jury trials. The No. 1 district was
the southern district of Florida, with 375 jury trials,
approximately 80 jury trials more than No. 2.
Second, it has an overall per-judge caseload which is 30
percent higher than the national average.
Third, this is a courthouse which started planning in 1993,
the 10-year window being, therefore, to the year 2003. Under
the current construction standards, it won't be open until the
year 2004, and if it has to undergo redesign it might be 2005
or later, so we are already at least 1 year, and with this at
least 2 years behind the 10-year window.
So, for all of those reasons, this seems to me to be a
peculiarly inept policy, and then to attempt to apply it as if
all of the 95 Federal court districts were homogenous adds to
You indicated that the Office of Management and Budget, Mr.
Peck, had not consulted with you before they made this change.
Judge Roth, was there any consultation with the Judiciary
before this recommendation was made?
Judge Roth. There was none at all, Senator.
Senator Graham. This would also seem to me analogous, if
you had a school that you were about to build and you felt that
it might be over cost, to have as the only way to reduce cost
to cut out the classrooms, as opposed to maybe reconsider
whether you wanted to put in parquet floors in the gymnasium or
something maybe less expensive. Was there any consultation--if
the goal was to reduce the cost of courthouses, was there any
consideration of what the range of alternatives would be, or
was the only alternative that was considered by OMB to reduce
the number of courtrooms?
Mr. Peck. Senator Graham, I think that the OMB was starting
from the assumption which is right, that we have a fairly
sophisticated benchmark system for deciding on the basic costs
for a courthouse, given the amount of square footage we have.
It allows for a certain quality level and then adjusts for
labor markets and construction costs. Once you're there, the
only way to reduce the cost is to reduce the scope of the
building, or the size that you are going to build, and I think
that is where they were going.
Having said that, I have to say I do fundamentally agree
with you that on this issue of courtroom sharing, if it is to
be done at all and done in an intelligent way, you would have
to do it on a case-by-case basis, and you would have to look at
the kind of cases that are in a courthouse. Some courts, like
in Miami, have a lot of multi-defendant cases, which drives you
also to different decisions about what kinds of courtrooms and
how many courtrooms you have.
If one would ask me, that's how I would go about trying to
decide where I would support sharing.
Senator Graham. There's one other factor that I would like
to request to get numbers analogous for those I'm about to give
for the southern district of Florida. The estimate is that this
courthouse, which has been under planning and design, as I
indicated, since 1993, will cost $2.5 million to redesign the
building that is already just about construction-ready, and if
there is a 6-month construction delay, the estimate is there
will be an additional cost of $1.6 million, and, as the chief
judge feels, there, in fact, will be a 12-month delay, that
number will double to 3.2 million. So somewhere between a third
and a half of the projected savings is going to be eaten up in
the cost of redesign and the additional construction cost
incident to delay.
I'd be interested in your evaluation of those numbers for
the southern district of Florida, as well as the other
courthouses which are on the list. How much is the real savings
after you take into account the consequences of redesign and
Mr. Peck. I can't vouch for those numbers. We could provide
you with an estimate.
There are a couple of projects on the list that were far
enough into design and approvals--the Washington Courthouse
comes to mind, too--that there will be both a time and fiscal
cost to going back and redesigning. Whether that eats up the
savings you'd have otherwise, I don't know. We'll have to take
a look at that. We could provide that if you want.
[The information referred to follows:]
Response by Robert Peck to an Additional Question from Senator Graham
Question. What is the ``real'' savings for the projects on the
Response. The real savings from the fiscal year 2001 courthouse
construction program will be $140 million. Of the seven projects in the
President's budget, Los Angeles and Richmond are new design starts, and
Little Rock is the continuation of an on-going design project.
Consequently, there will be no redesign cost impact on these projects.
The courtroom sharing policy has no impact on the Gulfport, MS,
project. The policy has a minimal effect on the Seattle project; the
elimination of one courtroom will not affect the construction schedule
for the courthouse.
The Miami and Washington, DC courthouse projects will require
significant redesign to accomplish courtroom sharing, and the following
describes the cost impact on each project.
COURTROOM SHARING IMPACT ON THE MIAMI, FL, PROJECT
The Miami project was suspended at about 40 percent of the total
design effort for a 16-courtroom courthouse during the month of March
2000. GSA's redesign strategy assumes a simple scope reduction by
removing 1 of the 4 courtroom floors and adapting another courtroom
floor to accept additional chambers. The building reduction redesign
will cost approximately $1,000,000 and take an estimated 3 months to
accomplish. The construction cost savings achieved by removing
departures from the U.S. Courts Design Guide and sharing courtrooms is
approximately $12,000,000. Therefore, the total net savings to the
project will be approximately $11,000,000.
Any delay in issuing clear direction beyond August 2000 will
translate into higher costs than reported in the fiscal year 2001
construction prospectus, regardless of the pursued option, including
the full 16 courtroom courthouse. Depending on which option is
exercised, 16 or 8 courtrooms, construction costs due to inflation are
estimated to be up to $260,000/month. Additionally, delay beyond this
date will also slip the construction award into fiscal year 2002.
COURTROOM SHARING IMPACT ON THE WASHINGTON, DC, PROJECT
GSA estimates that the redesign (including management fees) of the
DC Courthouse will cost approximately $1,200,000 and can be completed
within 11 months. The construction cost savings achieved by sharing
courtrooms is approximately $6,700,000. Therefore, the total net
savings to the project will be approximately $5,500,000. Any delay in
issuing clear direction beyond June 2000 will translate into higher
costs than reported in the fiscal year 2001 construction prospectus.
Additionally, delay beyond this date will also slip the construction
award into fiscal year 2002.
The concept for the redesign proposes the elimination of the
northern portion of the building above the loading dock. The loading
dock, chambers and offices within this space would be reprogrammed
within the remaining annex, from space made available from the
reduction of four courtrooms. In the future, the northern portion of
the building can be constructed and the building concept completed.
Senator Graham. I'd like to move to a different topic with
my remaining time, if I've got some remaining time, Mr.
Chairman, and that is the issue of security that you referred
to, Mr. Peck.
I recently visited Jacksonville, FL, where there is a
Federal building under construction, and the comments that were
made to me were that the security standards that GSA is
requiring are making it very difficult to build Federal
buildings inner city, that they are almost forcing construction
to go to suburban locations in order to be able to get the
amount of setbacks and other security requirements.
In the case of Jacksonville, where they are building a
building downtown, because of security reasons they were
disallowed the request to connect to a light rail system which
serves downtown Jacksonville so that people could go directly
off the light rail into the Federal courthouse.
It seems to me that we have one Federal policy of security
that is undercutting important Federal interest in terms of
enhancing the quality of our inner cities and older downtowns
and effectively using public transportation.
Mr. Peck. I know the Jacksonville project and I know of its
potential connection with the light rail system. I didn't know
that in the last design I had seen, there was a connection.
I'll have to go back and take a look.
[The information referred to follows:]
Response by Robert Peck to an Additional Question from Senator Graham
Question. Please followup on the connection between the light rail
system and the new courthouse under construction in Jacksonville, FL.
Response. GSA and local civic leaders from Jacksonville did discuss
creating a secondary entry directly from the public transit station
early in the design process. However, we decided that a connection
would be inappropriate for the following reasons:
Aesthetics.--The building is set back from the station to
create a public plaza in front of the courthouse. This provides a
sequence of urban space starting at the transit station, then
proceeding through a public plaza, and ending, finally, in the Federal
Courthouse. GSA felt strongly that this would provide a more pleasing
effect to the pedestrian than a direct entry--elevated above the
courthouse plaza--into the building. Moreover, the pedestrian traffic
to and from the transit station and the courthouse animates the public
plaza, which would be missing with a direct, elevated connection.
Security.--U.S. Marshals and the local court considered a
second entry unacceptable because it would have increased security
Expense.--A second entry would have required an additional
U.S. Marshals entry station--fully equipped and manned with its costly
We believe the single entry design in Jacksonville is an example of
GSA's commitment to creating urban spaces that are both inviting to the
public and secure for the building tenants.
You have put your finger on a very important issue for us.
One, some happy news: in Miami, the courthouse we have
designed does have a significant setback on all sides. We are
trying to turn that into an amenity for the city, a pleasant
place, by turning the area into a park. We've even talked to
the judges with some support about having a little cafe, a
place that you can actually attract people.
I have to say, some of the security folks, both in the
Marshals Service and I think some of my own, are aghast at the
suggestion that you might actually have people in their
security setback. But one of the lessons of security is the
more people there are, the more good people you attract to an
area, the harder it is for the bad people to have their way.
This is a real difficult issue. I mean, we have done the
following things: we are re-evaluating our security criteria
and rewriting them. There has been a tendency, since Oklahoma
City--and, in fact, with respect to the embassy program, as
well--again to have a one-size-fits-all policy that, for
instance, a 100-foot setback is absolutely necessary. Well,
without getting into the real numbers, we know if 100 feet is
good, 200 feet is probably better and 500 feet is better still,
and you wonder where that number quite comes from.
There are other ways to provide security. Some of them,
however, are expensive. If we really believe that there is, as
there is in some cases, a risk of an explosion near a building,
you either need a setback, or you need to strengthen the
structure of the building, which adds expense. But at least
there is that alternative.
We are quite concerned, because we are pushing hard on the
downtown policy. As I think you know, we have an Executive
order from two Presidents, Carter and Clinton, that we are
abiding by, and we are concerned that we might not be able to
With respect to the courthouse program, it is almost a
given that you have to be downtown. Very few courthouses have
strayed out to the suburbs, and we don't see that happening.
We also believe there are lots of ways you can be creative
and provide security and do it in downtown areas. Some of it, I
have to say, is going to take some leadership on the part of
all of us in recognizing that there are some risks, no matter
what you do, that you do the best you can to deal with the
most-likely risks, and that all of us in the public service
have to live with perhaps a little bit more than people in the
private sector do.
Senator Graham. If I could just close, Mr. Chairman, I
think at some appropriate time a hearing on this specific
subject of the effect of GSA policies, including security
policies, on the desire to have the Federal Government with a
presence in our major downtown areas, would be a valuable
contribution to this dialog.
Senator Voinovich. A good suggestion.
It would be interesting if you could give us some
information about where they are being built and if there is a
movement toward moving things toward the suburbs. Just take the
last 3 years. That would be interesting just to see what the
[The information referred to follows:]
Response by Robert Peck to a Question from Senator Voinovich
Question. Please provide information related to the courthouse
construction program for those that are being built in downtown areas
and those that are moving toward the suburbs.
Response. GSA has reviewed the locations for the courthouse
projects that are currently under construction. Of the 14 projects that
will be completed in Fiscal Years 2000, 2001, and 2002, 13 courthouses
are in their city's Central Business Districts: St. Louis, MO; Tucson,
AZ; Hammond, IN; Omaha, NE; Montgomery, AL; Phoenix, AZ; Albany, GA;
Las Vegas, NV; Cleveland, OH; Corpus Christi, TX; Greeneville, TN;
Jacksonville, FL; and Brooklyn, NY.
One courthouse project is in a suburban location on Long Island,
Central Islip, NY. The courthouse is being built on a donated site
adjacent to a county courthouse to form a judicial center in the
community. Congress amended Title 28 of the U.S. Code to designate
Central Islip, NY, as a place for holding court.
Mr. Peck. Interestingly, I believe we are connecting the
Cleveland Courthouse with a pedestrian walkway to Tower City,
Senator Voinovich. Yes, you are. Yes. And that's a public/
private partnership, and I congratulate----
Mr. Peck. We may have an inconsistency going on here. We'll
take a look.
Senator Voinovich. OK.
I've got a couple more questions.
First of all, if we continue to Federalize crime in this
country, which seems to be the tendency, you won't have enough
courtrooms. You're going to be squashing judges in because
you're just not going to have the space. This is not a good
idea because you're going to need more space. By the time you
build the new ones, they will be obsolete. So that's one
argument, logical one, common-sense one.
The other is I'm pleased that you are finding that your
employees in the Federal service can do a good job of
maintaining your buildings, which I have contended. There's
always a tendency to think that the only way to get anything
done properly is to privatize. I think you are finding that
you've got good employees in the Federal Service, and if they
are given the training and the empowerment, that they can get a
job done. I think this needs to be said more often, because
there is a feeling about that the only way you can get anything
done is to send it out to someone else. I think that our
Federal employees can do a darned good job if they are given
the training and the tools and the empowerment to get the job
And the last thing is that--maybe Senator Moynihan might be
interested in this--you're asking for money for authorization
to build the U.S. mission to the United Nations. It is my
understanding that we haven't been able to even appropriate
enough money to tear the building down. I wonder if we ought
not wait for that to happen before we authorize the
construction of the building.
Senator Moynihan. Mr. Chairman, if I could interject, the
building is falling down, so there really won't be----
Senator Baucus. While we're on foreign buildings, Mr.
Chairman, what is the status of their embassy in Beijing?
Mr. Peck. Fortunately, I don't have to do the embassies.
The State Department does those. I can find out.
Senator Baucus. I can tell you it is a mess.
Mr. Peck. Interestingly, there is a security issue that we
can't build a building in Berlin because our security standards
don't mesh with the city plan for Berlin. They gave us one of
their great sites. In Beijing I know it is an old building and
also great security concerns, probably made all the stronger by
Ambassador Sasser's having been nearly held captive in his
Senator Baucus. To say it is an old building is an
understatement. It was given to us many, many years ago by
Pakistan. It is an embarrassment to America.
Mr. Peck. A great legacy.
Senator Voinovich. Can you comment on that U.N. question,
Mr. Peck. Yes, sir, on the U.S. mission, it is true that I
believe the appropriators last year did not appropriate. We
have a design. We are ready to go. Obviously, we are not going
to demolish without approval.
I mean, we could get stuck in this who goes first issue,
and, obviously, we urge the committee to approve this project
in full and let us go ahead as we get the funding.
It really is necessary. The building is old. You can hear
from my comments, I am not an alarmist on security, but this is
a building that really has no security. It is not adequate to
the size of the U.S. mission.
No matter how one feels about the United Nations, we
clearly have a presence there. We are the host country. The
U.S. mission building is across from the U.N. Building. It is
just in a terrible state, and we think the project is needed.
I'd suggest going--obviously, it is your call. I'd suggest
going ahead and approving it and letting us go and talk to the
appropriators and see if we can get the funding.
Senator Voinovich. OK. Are there any other questions?
Senator Voinovich. Well, we'd like to thank you very much
for being here.
Mr. Peck. Thank you.
Senator Voinovich. The meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:40 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned,
to reconvene at the call of the chair.]
[Additional statements submitted for the record follow:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN W. WARNER, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing on GSA's fiscal
year 2001 Capital Investment and Leasing Program including the
courthouse construction program.
I am pleased that the President's fiscal year 2001 budget request
includes seven new courthouse construction projects, the first such
request since fiscal year 1997. Congress has recognized the need to
provide the judiciary with adequate, secure space for courts and I am
happy that the Administration has followed suit to acknowledge this
The absence of courthouse funding in the budget for 3 years, with
Congress only able to appropriate funds in one of those years, has
placed GSA behind schedule in delivering needed space for the courts
and created a lengthy backlog of projects. Although, the
Administration's fiscal year 2001 proposal still falls short of funding
the courthouse projects which this committee has already authorized, it
is a good first step.
There are two courthouse projects which I would like to bring to
the committee's attention.
First, the current space and security situation at the Richmond,
Virginia, courthouse facility is inadequate and warrants action. The
court complex is operating at full capacity and most court and court-
related components are experiencing operational difficulties. There is
no room within the existing facility to accommodate any growth. Any
further delay of the project would impede greatly the court's ability
to accomplish its work. Thankfully, the site and design for the
Richmond Courthouse, housing the entire District Court and Bankruptcy
Court, is among the seven courthouse projects in the budget proposal.
Second, I am concerned that the existing courthouse at Norfolk has
run out of space and presents serious security concerns. It is one of
the 18 projects which this committee has authorized and identified by
the judiciary as one of the most crucial needs. Prisoners, litigants,
jurors, public and judges share the same elevators and hallways.
Funding for the annex project is needed to remedy the existing problems
and provide for the 10-year needs of the court. The current problems
and inadequacies have reached a critical level and immediate funding is
needed for construction of the annex project, which will allow the
courts to meet their mission in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Unfortunately, the present budget does not include funding for this
I also have two concerns over the present courthouse proposal.
My first concern is over the ranked priorities for courthouse
construction in the President's budget. After much deliberation this
committee recognized that a priority order established by the judiciary
would be the most fair solution in ranking which of the many courthouse
projects would begin site, design or construction work. Although the
Administration budget does provide funds for six of the top seven
projects identified by the judiciary, it does not strictly follow the
order prescribed and deviates in one case. I suspect my colleagues from
New York will bring this issue up in greater detail but I wanted to
register my concern as I do not wish there to be precedent established
that would delay projects identified as necessary in my state or in my
Lastly, I wanted to bring attention to the courtroom sharing issue.
A number of Federal judges in the Commonwealth of Virginia have brought
to my attention the decision by OMB to have all judges share courtrooms
contrary to established Judicial branch policies. Although no
representative of OMB is here to explain their rationale, I wanted to
let the committee know that I am concerned with this decision on many
fronts and am eager to understand the rationale.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT A. PECK, COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE,
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name
is Robert A. Peck and I am the Commissioner of the Public Buildings
Service. Thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the Fiscal
Year 2001 Capital Investment and Leasing Program. Before I discuss the
specifics of our program, I would first like to give you an overview of
our overall responsibilities and highlight a number of Public Buildings
Service initiatives that are improving the way we do business.
GSA's Public Buildings Service is the largest owner/operator of
commercial-style real estate in the United States, managing 350-million
square feet of space in office buildings, courthouses, laboratories and
border stations, and housing one million Federal employees.
Approximately 55 percent of that space is in 1,993 government-owned
buildings, housing nearly 500,000 employees. The remainder of the space
and employees is housed in approximately 6,400 privately owned leased
buildings. Our customers include all Federal departments, independent
agencies and commissions, the Judiciary, and Members of Congress.
Our funding comes principally--in fiscal year 2000 it is coming
exclusively from the rents that we charge to the more than 100 Federal
agencies. The rent revenues, expected to amount to approximately $5.5
billion in fiscal year 2000, are deposited into the Federal Buildings
Fund (FBF) and are used to operate the government's buildings, pay rent
to the private sector for our leased space, provide security, and fund
our administrative costs. More than 90 percent of the $5.5 billion we
plan to spend in fiscal year 2000 will be paid out in the form of
contracts with the private sector. More than half of the fiscal year
2000 expenditures, $3 billion, will go toward lease payments in private
Since the Oklahoma City bombing, we have doubled our rate of
spending on building security, doubled the size of our uniformed force,
and improved our security organization to upgrade its capabilities and
focus it on the violent threats we face.
Improved Performance through Businesslike Measures
While we carry out the public buildings program in accordance with
government contracting procedures and socio-economic preferences, we
are now operating more like a business. Our performance measurements
link our budgeting process to performance in tangible ways. We have
established nine performance measures, which have quickly become known
as the ``Big Nine'' in our organization. These measures have allowed
our 11 regions to compete among each other to do our business in the
cheapest, best, and fastest manner possible. Regional budget
allocations and even individual bonuses are tied directly to a region's
ability to meet specific performance improvement targets.
In business, they say you get what you measure and we have found
that, too. Since we began our ``Linking Budget to Performance''
program, we have had the following results:
Our funds from operations have increased approximately 38
percent from fiscal year 1998 to 1999.
We have reduced the non-revenue producing space in our
total inventory from 13 percent to 10 percent in just the last fiscal
Our operating costs per square foot in government-owned
space are approximately 13 percent below the private industry average;
in the past 3 years, our cleaning costs per square foot have actually
gone down, while the private industry average has gone up.
The average rents we have paid in our leased buildings
across the country have been at or below the average rate that private
sector tenants pay, with a cost avoidance to the government in the tens
of millions of dollars.
The average time it takes us to negotiate new leases for
client agencies is down from 244 days in 1996 to 152 days in 1999, a
decrease of 38 percent.
Our energy consumption was reduced 17.3 percent from 1985
to 1999. Our goal is to further reduce this another 2.7 percent by the
end of fiscal year 2000 and an additional 10 percent by the end of
fiscal year 2005.
Our customer satisfaction scores, measured in hundreds of
buildings by the Gallup organization, have improved steadily from 74
percent in 1993 to 80 percent in 1998. Our long-term customer
satisfaction goal is 85 percent.
These results are depicted graphically in an attachment to my
This improved financial performance has a direct bearing on the
capital program we are proposing. By pricing more realistically and
reducing expenses, we have
produced more net income, which for us is the only available source of
funding to upgrade our aging buildings, and thus provide Federal
workers the productive workspace they need. Increased net income allows
us to propose more capital improvement projects. We are proposing some
new construction funding from the FBF, as well. We consider this to be
a secondary priority for FBF net income and are recommending it for
some urgent security and law enforcement projects only.
Improving the Public Quality of Public Buildings
In addition to focusing on our bottom line, the Public Buildings
Service has a broader goal of improving the benefits that Federal
buildings bring to local communities across the country, recapturing
the tradition of quality and vitality in Federal buildings that was
begun by Washington and Jefferson.
We are designing and constructing landmark public
buildings that are efficient and dignified, sources of community pride,
and positive government investments in their localities.
Our urban livability program has improved the way we
integrate our site and design decisions with local planning and
development needs. We are making public building plazas centers of
downtown activity, in the tradition of the American courthouse square.
We have kicked off a First Impressions program to redesign
the entry and lobby areas of our Federal buildings, making them more
welcoming and functional as well as secure for the public and
THE CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND LEASING PROGRAM
This month we submitted to Congress the GSA Fiscal Year 2001
Capital Investment and Leasing Program, which you have before you
today. We are pleased to note our proposed budget request this year
includes a substantial new construction program as well as an increase
in the amount proposed for critical repair and alteration projects.
The highlights of the program include:
Projects Funded from the FBF
9 prospectus-level (non-courts) design and new
construction projects estimated at $82,351,000;
14 prospectus-level repair and alteration projects
budgeted at $349,278,000;
12 prospectus-level repair and alteration designs for
future projects at $21,915,000;
An ongoing chlorofluorocarbon reduction and energy-saving
programs budgeted at $10,000,000 and $20,000,000, respectively; and
A glass fragmentation program budgeted at $30,000,000.
Projects Funded from a Direct Appropriation to the FBF
2 new construction projects--the FDA consolidation in
Montgomery County, MD, for $101,239,000 and ATF Headquarters project in
Washington, DC, for $83,000,000; and
7 new courthouse construction projects totaling a budget
request of $488,464,000.
Our Capital Investment and Leasing Program plays a key role in
providing the necessary resources to maintain the current real property
assets and acquire new or replacement assets. Our proposed projects are
evaluated in the context of the entire national portfolio. We consider
three options when evaluating our client agency requirements:
construction and acquisition, repair and alteration, or leasing space
from the private sector. When evaluating and prioritizing our capital
program, we consider a number of factors:
Economic justification in terms of financial return and
present value cost;
Project timing and execution;
Physical urgency based on building conditions;
Customer urgency; and
Historic preservation and community considerations.
Repair and Alteration Program
More than half of our government-owned buildings are older than 50
years and nearly a quarter of the inventory bears historic designation,
so we have a particularly significant need for funds to maintain and
renovate our existing inventory. Our first capital program priority
therefore must be repair and alteration of our existing inventory to
ensure that its value and condition do not decline. For fiscal year
2001, we are proposing a budget of $721.2 million, an 8 percent
increase over $665.6 million received in fiscal year 2000. Our annual
repair and alteration program is approximately 2.5 percent of the
inventory's replacement value, which falls within the range (2-4
percent) of private sector practice. However, given the age of the
inventory, we are currently studying what is an appropriate level of
To help allocate the limited resources of the FBF for repair and
alteration projects, we use a Return on Investment (ROI) methodology--
in addition to the criteria highlighted above. ROI determines if a
project adds or detracts from the net income the building contributes
to the FBF after project completion. Simply stated, if we invest
dollars in a building, we want to make sure that the investment will
bring increased revenues. Using a ROI approach in evaluating projects
assists our efforts in strengthening the long-term fiscal health of the
New Construction and Acquisition
Through revenues generated by the FBF, we are proposing to fund 7
border stations; demolition and construction of a new U.S. Mission to
the United Nations; and the acquisition of a site and design of a new
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Field Office. By increasing our
net income--through new pricing policies and our focus on performance
measures--we have released some of that net income for modest, yet
urgent, security-related new construction projects. Nonetheless, we
continue to have unmet needs in our existing buildings and our first
priority for the use of net income is for building repairs and
Through a direct appropriation, we are requesting funding and
authority for 7 courthouse projects across the nation, the FDA
consolidation in Montgomery County, MD, and the ATF Headquarters
project in Washington, DC. You will also notice a request for your
Committee to authorize the Suitland, MD, NOAA project. Design funds for
this urgently needed facility, which will house some of the nation's
most important weather satellite technology, was provided in the
Department of Commerce's fiscal year 2000 appropriation. Our request
for authorization, along with an advance appropriation requested in the
Fiscal Year 2001 President's Budget, will allow GSA to proceed
expeditiously with the design and construction of this important
facility. Our fiscal year 2001 budget request also includes advance
appropriations in fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004, which will
complete funding of the FDA consolidation in Montgomery County, MD.
As you know, this is the first year the Administration has
requested a courthouse program since 1997. The fiscal year 2001 funding
request for new courthouse construction reflects the Administration's
view that courtroom sharing is a cost effective means for providing the
space needed by the courts. This has resulted in the elimination of 22
courtrooms in the 7 new courthouse projects proposed in the budget.
Although some redesign will be required, GSA's fiscal year 2001 budget
request was reduced by approximately $25 million as a result. Our
projections indicate that the expenditure of almost $33 million will be
avoided in future years as these projects move from the design phase
into construction. Additional significant cost savings of approximately
$85 million will result, for instance, from the construction of a
companion courthouse to the Roybal Building in Los Angeles, as opposed
to a new stand-alone courthouse.
The following table summarizes the status of the courthouse
Project Stage Number of Projects
Completed....................... 25 9 completed in
Under Construction............ 15 9 to be completed
in fiscal year
Construction Pending.......... 6 Fully funded and
Site Acquisition.............. 3 Received only site
Design........................ 1 Received only
Site and Design**............. 12 Received only site
Total Projects................ 62
Total Dollars................. $3.5 Billion
*Albany, GA; Central Islip, NY; Hammond, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Montgomery,
AL; Omaha, NE; Phoenix, AZ; St. Louis, MO; Tucson, AZ
**The Seattle, WA, Courthouse project is an example where GSA is in the
site acquisition and design process. GSA will not proceed with
construction until such funding and authorization are obtained.
The 25 projects that have already been completed provide 244
courtrooms for the Judiciary's use. The 9 projects that will be
completed this fiscal year will add 123 courtrooms to the inventory.
The remainder of the new courthouse construction program is
projected to cost approximately $4.5 billion. This amount includes
construction funding for the 16 projects that have received only
partial funding and also includes full funding for the 97 projects that
have received no funding to date.
This year we have also submitted for your consideration 12 lease
prospectuses. These 12 leases total approximately $80 million in
obligations in fiscal year 2001. These prospectus-level leases
represent a small percentage of our $2.94 billion rental of space
budget request for fiscal year 2001.
By managing ourselves in a more business-like manner, we are
working to control the growth of our leased inventory. As mentioned
previously, one of our performance measures is the amount of vacant
space in our inventory. We focus on reducing vacancy in both owned and
leased space by renovating and backfilling vacant-owned space,
realigning space assignments to consolidate vacant space, and where
possible, buying out leases and moving tenants from leased to vacant-
available space in Government-owned buildings. We believe our efforts
have been successful. The proposed $721.2 million repair and alteration
program, for instance, will allow us to backfill more than 1.1 million
square feet of vacant space in our owned inventory, which in many cases
involves moving client agencies back into government-owned buildings
from leased space.
While the FBF can support maintaining our existing inventory and a
modest new construction program to fund border station needs and
specialized law enforcement needs, such as the occasional FBI building,
it cannot support a large-scale new construction program, such as that
needed by the U.S. courts. This is evidenced by the $3 billion Congress
has appropriated to the FBF between fiscal years 1990-2000.
To propose a large new construction program as we have this year,
it is necessary for us to ask for an appropriation to the FBF. We have
found, however, that our business-like approach has helped us maximize
the net income from our portfolio, and in turn, invest more in our
existing inventory. The higher our net income, the higher the number of
prospectus-level repair and alteration projects we are able to submit
to Congress. A higher net income also allows us to fund more new
construction projects within the FBF, which is evidenced by the
$102,194,000 we submitted in the fiscal year 2000 budget and the
$107,085,000 we are proposing for fiscal year 2001.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the
General Services Administration. We were created as an outgrowth of the
Hoover Commission in 1949. Over the past year we have been evaluating
the impact that additional asset management tools would have on the
Government's management of real estate. We are working closely with the
Administration, and hope in the near future to submit a proposal that
Congress agrees will allow us to operate our real property inventory
even more effectively. Finally, we are also evaluating the need to
increase the prospectus threshold above the fiscal year 2001 level of
$1.99 million. We believe a higher threshold would enable us to meet
agencies' space needs--such as replacing a single building systems or
backfilling vacant space--more rapidly than the current threshold
allows, and would still provide for the Committee's review the
significant capital improvement and construction projects that Congress
has traditionally been concerned about.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my formal statement. I would be glad
to answer any questions that you may have about our proposed Fiscal
Year 2001 Capital Investment and Leasing Program, or any other aspects
of the public buildings program.
Responses by Robert Peck to Questions from Senator Voinovich
Question 1. If you would please explain for the committee the
current status of the U.S. Mission lo the United Nations. (NOTE: There
was no funding available for the demolition of this building in the
fiscal year 2000 Treasury, Postal Appropriations bill.)
Response. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations project requires
demolition of the existing U.S. Mission building and the construction
of a new U.S. Mission building on the existing, government-owned site.
Congress authorized $3.163 million for design and $4.3 million for
demolition. P.L. 105-277 (FY 1999 appropriations) including $3,163,000
for design of the new building.
The project's architectural design contract was awarded in June
1999; design will be completed in December 2000. GSA requested $4.022
million for demolition in fiscal year 2000, and as you note, we did not
receive that appropriation. The GSA fiscal year 2001 budget includes a
request for $58.3 million for the demolition and construction phase of
As we testified, to correct serious security and functional
inadequacies in the existing building, we need the new U.S. Mission
building. With design nearing completion, it becomes more critical that
we proceed to demolition and construction. Delaying construction once
design is complete always increases cost. We are preparing to move U.S.
Mission staff to temporary leased space during the demolition and
construction. GSA is currently conducting a solicitation for this
Question 2. What are your views regarding S. 1564, the Cochran,
Federal Courts Budget Protection Act?
Response. S. 1564 would require the Administrative Office of the
U.S. Courts to submit the Judiciary's annual budget request directly to
Congress, bypassing the regular Federal budget review process. The
Judiciary's submission would include funding requests for new
construction, site acquisition, and repair and alteration activities
for courthouses and other space occupied by Judicial branch agencies.
GSA opposes S. 1564 for the following reasons:
A primary role that GSA serves within the Government is to
consider the total housing needs of all Federal agencies within a
community. This bill would allow the Judiciary in isolation, i.e.,
without considering the needs of other agencies, such as the U.S.
Marshals Service and U.S. Attorneys office, or even non-court-related
agencies that may have a housing need, to develop courthouse projects.
When looking at the space requirements of the Federal community, we
also survey the existing GSA inventory for vacant or underutilized
space. Under S. 1564, the Judiciary could potentially request
construction funds for new court space even if we have available space
in existing Federal facilities. This is clearly not the most
financially prudent way to obtain maximum value from the Federal real
GSA's benchmarking system allows us to set an appropriate,
objectively determined budget for each proposed courthouse project.
This benchmark takes into account the unique needs of the courts and is
adjusted for the variation in construction costs in different parts of
the country, Although S. 1564 would have GSA provide estimates to the
courts, the process contemplated by the bill would compromise the
independence and credibility of our benchmark estimates.
S. 1564 also complicates funding for courthouse
construction, site acquisition, and renovation projects. For instance,
GSA performs many preliminary studies and analyses, such as
environmental impact studies, prospectus development studies, and site
acquisition analyses, before requesting funding for capital projects.
GSA funds these studies from an account within the Federal Buildings
Fund that is separate from the construction account to which the
Judiciary's appropriated funds would be deposited. It is unclear in S.
1564 how such studies would be funded.
GSA would also lose reprogramming flexibility, including
(1) reprogramming funds among other GSA new construction projects and
court new construction projects; and (2) reprogramming from other
budget activities within the Federal Buildings Fund. Our ability to
shift funds to compensate for up to 10 percent escalations in
construction costs--funds which have to come out of economies in our
other projects or programs--is key to the effective and timely
completion of projects.
In summary, we believe the current system is one that is highly
objective and allows for the necessary checks and balances against
which the courts' assessment of its space needs are evaluated.
Question 3. Could you please explain the model that OMB used to
determine courtroom sharing at a ratio of 2 courtrooms for every 3
judges? Do you agree that in some instances, like in the case of Miami
and DC, that changes to the design may increase the total cost of
construction of these projects?
Response. OMB asked GSA to identify the total number of resident
district judges, including senior judges, who would sit in each of the
seven courthouse locations. OMB then calculated two-thirds of that
number, and rounded up, if necessary, to the next highest whole number
to determine the number of district courtrooms to be provided. For
example, if there would be 8 district judges in a location, 6 district
courtrooms would be constructed: (8 x \2/3\ = 5\1/3\, rounded to 6).
The number of magistrate courtrooms and bankruptcy courtrooms to be
constructed in each location was calculated in the same way.
With regard to Miami and Washington, DC, both projects would
require redesign to accomplish the necessary reductions in project
scope. However, the total cost of the projects, including redesign
costs, will be reduced by eliminating departures from the U.S. Courts
Design Guide and following the courtroom sharing model. The total
estimated project cost for Miami will be reduced from $148,068,000 to
$137,072,000. This reduction is a result of eliminating 4 courtrooms
that are departures from the U.S. Courts Design Guide and 4 courtrooms
as a result of the sharing policy. The total estimated project cost for
Washington, DC will be reduced from $115,201,000 to $109,153,000 due to
courtroom sharing. We estimate the costs of redesigning to be $1.5
million in Miami and $1.2 million in Washington. The additional design
costs for both courthouse projects are included in the above estimated
Response of Robert Peck to Question from Senator Smith
Question. I am interested in the development of the Southeast
Federal Center property next to the Washington Navy Yard. This is
property owned by GSA, and I would like to know what plans if any, GSA
is considering for its future use?
Response. The Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) comprising 55 acres
on the Anacostia waterfront, is the largest federally owned tract in
Washington, DC, suitable for development. The site is a historic
district eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic
Places. GSA has included a $5 million request in its fiscal year 2001
budget to complete construction of the SEFC seawall and to accomplish
additional environmental assessments. The total remediation cost for
the SEFC is $35 million.
GSA has had various plans in the past to develop the property. In
fiscal year 1991 and fiscal year 1993, Congress appropriated $198
million to construct new headquarters buildings at the SEFC for GSA and
for the Army Corps of Engineers. In fiscal year 1994 and fiscal year
1995, Congress rescinded that appropriation. In fiscal year 1999, GSA
proposed an appropriation of $14 million for design of a $294 million
DOT headquarters on the site. In conjunction with the request for
design funds, a prospectus requesting authorization of the DOT
headquarters as a new construction project was submitted to the House
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee
on Environment and Public Works. The Committees declined to approve the
prospectus for a construction project, and instead authorized GSA to
lease space for DOT.
We are investigating alternatives to develop the SEFC and are
reviewing authorities proposed in the House legislation regarding the
site's development. Because of past development funding constraints and
recent rethinking of planning objectives for the area, and because GSA
has become more knowledgeable about urban redevelopment strategies that
have worked around the country, GSA favors mixed-use development (i.e.,
a mix of office, retail, housing and possibly other uses) for the site,
rather than the exclusive Federal office construction envisioned in
earlier GSA plans. Moreover, the move of some 6,000 personnel of the
Naval Sea System Command into the Navy Yard next door, bringing
employment at the Navy Yard to more than 11,000, increases the
desirability of the SEFC as a mixed-use location.
Last fall, GSA retained a real estate consulting firm to evaluate
mixed-use development opportunities at the SEFC. The consulting firm
has determined that there are a number of development opportunities,
which include office space, approximately 500 housing units, a 200-room
hotel, and limited retail.
One potential development opportunity for a portion of the SEFC
remains the headquarters for the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Currently, GSA is procuring 1.35-million square feet of leased space to
consolidate DOT in downtown Washington, DC. We are employing a two-step
procurement to consolidate DOT. As part of the procurement, GSA is
offering for sale at fair market value an 11.7-acre parcel at the SEFC.
Two developers who took us up on the offer to use that site to
construct a DOT headquarters, were invited to participate in phase 2 of
the procurement; two offerors proposed building onsites elsewhere in
the city, and one offeror is proposing to retain DOT at its current
location. GSA plans to make an award for the DOT headquarters project
in September 2000.
GSA also believes that the SEFC and the Anacostia waterfront area
in general would be a likely place for and would benefit from having on
the site what developers refer to as a ``destination'' use: a cultural
or entertainment facility that draws large numbers of people, both
residents of the city and tourists. One such destination use that has
been suggested might be an expanded Navy Museum, relocated from its
current building in the Navy Yard, and possibly a separate Navy Museum,
with display areas and a parade ground, as well. We believe these uses
would stimulate development of the SEFC and surrounding area, as well
as fulfilling an important public purpose.
Response of Robert Peck to Question from Senator Baucus
Question. The courts and OMB seem to be at opposite ends of the
spectrum on this issue. What factors should be considered in an
effective courtroom sharing model?
Response. Ideally, a courtroom sharing model should analyze the
local court's current and projected workload and courtroom utilization
as well as the current and projected numbers of judgeships, including
senior and visiting judges, for that location. OMB requested this
information and similar data from the Administrative Office of the U.S.
Courts as long ago as the fall of 1998, but it was not provided.
Responses by Robert Peck to Questions from Senator Reid
I was very disappointed to learn that the Office of Management and
Budget did not include in the President's budget request funds in the
amount of $24 million for repairs and alterations to the Foley Federal
Building and United States Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have been
informed that the General Services Administration did, in fact, request
OMB to include this funding in the President's budget request, but that
OMB failed to act upon this request. I was even more disappointed to
learn that the repairs and alterations request for the Foley Federal
Building and Courthouse was the only GSA courthouse R&A not included by
OMB in the President's budget request.
Question 1. What reason or reasons did OMB provide as to why this
R&A request in the amount of $24 million was not included in the
President's budget request?
Response. OMB's overall framework for developing the fiscal year
2001 program is that capital projects not scheduled for award until
late fiscal year 2001 or early fiscal year 2002 are not proposed for
funding. This project's design is scheduled for a late fiscal year 2001
design completion and a construction award for December 2001.
Consequently, this project was not included in our fiscal year 2001
Question 2. What reason or reasons did OMB provide as why this was
the only R&A courthouse request not included in the President's budget
Response. OMB did not single out this project. As explained above,
the proposed renovation has a fare estimated design completion and a
construction award date of early fiscal year 2002. Given this late
construction award date, this project was not included in the
President's budget request.
Question 3. Why, in the opinion of GSA, was this funding not
included in the President's budget request?
Response. As previously explained, OMB's framework for developing
the capital program is that projects not scheduled for award until late
in the fiscal year, or early in the following fiscal years are not
proposed for funding. Because the project is not scheduled for
construction award until December 2001, this project was not included
in the President's budget request.
Question 4. Why, in the opinion of GSA, was this the only R&A
courthouse request not included in the President' budget request?
Response. The Foley FB-CT project has a late estimated design
completion and an estimated construction award that slips into early
fiscal year 2002. The schedule was the reason this project was not
included in the President's budget request.
Question 5. Upon examining the 13 projects, which were included for
Repairs and Alterations, OMB is requesting funds greater than $24
million for eight of those projects (an additional request is for $23
million). Clearly Las Vegas was not excluded because it is the most
expensive project. Would you please address this discrepancy?
Response. The schedule, not the cost of this project relative to
other renovation projects, was the reason this project was not
Question 6. I would also like to remind you that the district court
will be moving into the George (new) Federal Building and Courthouse in
just a few months. What will happen with the Foley Building if funds
are not appropriated until Fiscal Year 2002? Will we have an unusable
building for more than a year? What additional costs would this incur?
Please address these concerns as well.
Response. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Small Business
Administration, and other executive agencies will remain in the
building. Vacant space in the building will either be altered first or
used as swing space for building tenants to facilitate the renovation
of their current space. Vacant space not required by current building
tenants will be backfilled by executive agencies relocated from leased
Since The project is not scheduled to begin until fiscal year 2002,
delaying the appropriation of construction funds until fiscal year 2002
will not impact the project costs.
[From the Federal Times, March 6, 2000]
REWARDS FOR EMPLOYEES REAP REWARDS FOR AGENCY
(BY RENEE MCELVEEN)
You will not find the agency's stock listed on the New York Stock
But that does not stop managers and employees at the General
Services Administration's Public Buildings Service from sharing in the
agency's financial gains.
Last June, 518 employees of PBS' Northeast/Caribbean region
received cash awards totaling $538,000 for improving their region's
And in mid-February, 201 employees of the New England region won
cash awards totaling $322,000.
PBS executives say a 2-year-old bonus program that rewards high
performers is paying off. In short, they say, the culture of the Public
Buildings Service is changing: Employees are thinking more creatively
about their jobs, trying innovative ideas to better their performance
at the agency, which is charged with buying, leasing and maintaining
office space across the country for Federal agencies.
Satisfaction among PBS customers has risen from 74 percent in 1994
to 80 percent in 1998. Vacant rental space has decreased from 12.3
percent in 1998 to 9 percent in 1999. The time it takes to sign a lease
has been reduced from 250 days in 1996 to 150 days in 1999.
For PBS Commissioner Robert Peck, the bonus program he helped
create in 1998 has not only improved performance at his agency but also
has generated millions of dollars in savings that he has plowed back
into PBS operations. ``We are rewarding people for the right things,''
And this is reflected in the agency's bottom line.
In fiscal 1999, PBS generated $5.4 billion in rent revenues and is
projected to top that with $5.6 billion in 2000. Peck estimates rent
revenues will reach $5.8 billion in 2001.
Under the program, called ``Linking Budget to Performance,''
employees and regional bureaus are rewarded for exceeding performance
goals. Peck said employees refer to the program as the ``Big Nine,''
after the nine performance areas that employees from GSA's 11
geographic regions strive to exceed by the end of the year, in
competition with each other.
Agency employees can earn performance awards--and regional offices
can earn bigger shares of the PBS budget--by increasing net income,
improving customer satisfaction, decreasing administrative costs,
decreasing the amount of vacant space, reducing the cleaning costs of
buildings, reducing building maintenance costs, reducing lease costs
and keeping construction costs within budget and keeping construction
projects on schedule.
When Peck joined PBS in 1995 there were 38 performance measures in
place for the agency's employees.
Streamlined Performance Goals Get Results
``You can't manage to 38 performance measures,'' he said. ``You
can't even remember 38 performance measures.''
Jan Ziegler, then-acting assistant commissioner for PBS' Office of
Business Performance, was charged with building the program. To develop
a smaller, more effective set of performance measures, Ziegler looked
to the private-sector real estate industry, studying its best business
practices in 60 markets across the country.
One key national goal of the PBS program is achieving an 85 percent
customer satisfaction rate. To qualify for an award, a region must
exceed the national goal.
For fiscal 1995, the Northwest/Arctic Region had scored 83 percent
on its customer satisfaction survey, conducted by the Gallup
Organization. The 1998 survey results indicated a score of 87 percent--
two percentage points over the national goal--making it eligible for a
Another performance measure is financial performance, which is
measured by such criteria as cleaning costs of buildings per square
In 1998, the Northeast/Caribbean Region achieved building cleaning
costs averaging $2.01 per square foot, compared with the industry
average of $2.22. By the end of the performance period, the region had
reduced cleaning costs to $1.98 per square foot, beating the industry
average by 24 cents. For 1999, those costs increased six cents in the
same region, compared with an industry increase of four cents, but the
region still beat the industry average by 22 cents. On order to be
effective, a measure has to be something that the people who get
measured have some influence over,'' Peck said.
Although the PBS awards program is only 2 years old, top agency
managers are excited about the results and the changes they see in
``It's really profoundly changed behavior out in the field,'' said
Paul Lynch, assistant commissioner for the agency's Office of Business
He said he sees employees working together to meet the performance
goals. They view the buildings they are responsible for as assets,
Tony Costa, assistant regional administrator for public buildings
in the National Capital Region, is responsible for 1,700 employees.
Since the awards program was instituted, he has seen significant
changes in the way business is conducted on a daily basis.
He said employees are now focused on how their performance
contributes to the achievement of regional goals. During his weekly
business meetings with staff, discussions center on the numbers--why
performance is improving or declining in a particular area, and how
they can fix problem areas.
``The employees recognize that the things they do every day have an
impact on the department,'' Costa said.
In addition to changing employee behavior, the awards program has
brought out a sense of competition among the Public Buildings Service's
11 regions, Peck said.
The region achieving best overall performance in the nine
categories wins custody of a traveling trophy until the next winner is
The first overall winner in 1998 was the Northeast/Caribbean
Region. With that honor, the region--which includes New York, New
Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands--received a $6.2
million award. Of that, $5.7 million was available to be reinvested in
repairs and upgrades to the 560 buildings overseen by the region. The
remaining $538,000 was distributed as awards to 518 employees.
On Feb. 14, the New England Region won PBS' best overall
performance award for 1999. The region, which includes Connecticut,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, was
awarded $2 million. Of that, $1.68 million can be reinvested in the 388
buildings the region oversees. The remaining $322,000 was distributed
among 201 employees as cash awards ranging from $360 to $2,400.
Peck plans to present the awards later this month.
``If you want to change the culture of an organization, you don't
do it by putting up glitzy posters and conducting teleconferences,''
Instead, he said, motivate employees to think how they will
accomplish the agency's mission from the moment they leave home in the
morning. This bonus program has done that, he said.
STATEMENT OF JUDGE JANE R. ROTH, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: My name is Jane Roth.
I serve as a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and as
chairman of the Judicial Conference's Committee on Security and
Facilities.\1\ I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the
Subcommittee today to discuss the courthouse projects scheduled for
fiscal year 2001 under the judiciary's prioritized Five-Year Plan and
also to summarize the judiciary's continuous efforts to review and
improve management of the courthouse construction program.
\1\ The Judicial Conference of the United States is the judiciary's
For the past several years we have worked closely with the Congress
and the General Services Administration (GSA) on the courthouse
construction program. We appreciate the continued willingness of this
Subcommittee, of the full Committee, and of your staff to work with us
to make improvements. We look forward to working with you on the
projects for fiscal year 2001. In particular, we hope that you will
authorize all projects that can be ready for design, site or
construction contract award in fiscal year 2001 at the levels
originally submitted by GSA to the Office of Management and Budget
President Clinton's fiscal year 2001 budget request includes $488
million for seven new courthouse construction projects. This request
for courthouse projects is the first since fiscal year 1997. The
judiciary appreciates the fact that the Administration has acknowledged
the need to provide adequate, secure space for courts. The President's
request does not, however, include all the projects which GSA proposed
to OMB. We are concerned by the Administration's failure to include
funds for all the projects which need site, design or construction
funding in fiscal year 2001. We are also concerned about actions taken
by OMB to reduce the size of the projects. We are informed that the
funding levels for these seven projects are based on an assumption that
only two courtrooms will be provided for every three active district,
senior, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges.
The Judicial Conference, at its March 14, 2000 meeting, considered
the unilateral efforts of the Office of Management and Budget to impose
a courtroom sharing policy on the judicial branch, and the Conference
condemned these efforts as an unwarranted and inappropriate intrusion
into the constitutionally mandated independence of the judiciary. By
statute, the judicial councils of the circuits have the authority to
determine the need for court accommodations. (See 28 USC 462 (b)). Once
the need for accommodations is approved by the council, the Director of
the Administrative Office of the United States Courts requests the GSA
Administrator to provide them. The Administrator is directed by law to
do so. Any action, taken by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
to reduce the scope and size of the projects, as approved by the
councils and GSA, would appear to violate the governing statutes. We
ask that you take action to restore the levels of funding for the
courthouse program to those proposed by GSA prior to OMB's arbitrary
The shortsightedness of OMB's actions is obvious. The courts are
experiencing an ever-increasing workload. To delete courtrooms from
buildings that should last for decades will only cause the judiciary to
come back to this Subcommittee shortly after a building is occupied in
order to seek funding for expansion or major alterations to a brand-new
facility. I will further address the actions taken by OMB and the
concept of ``courtroom sharing'' later in my testimony.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROGRAM
The Administration chose not to request funding for courthouse
construction in the budget for the previous 3 years. Congress was able
to appropriate funds for courthouses in only one of those years. This
lack of funding has created a backlog of projects and has placed GSA
woefully behind schedule in delivering needed space for the courts. The
courts, therefore, must continue to operate in facilities that are
unsafe, overcrowded, and substandard. The Judicial Conference's fiscal
year 2001 request includes 19 projects which are ready to go. Eighteen
of the projects require authorization by this Subcommittee. The
Environment and Public Works Committee previously authorized
construction of the Savannah project. The total cost of these projects
requiring authorization is about $750 million, based on GSA's September
1999 estimates. Seventeen of these projects were included in GSA's
original request to OMB. In addition, based on current information, one
more project (in Fresno, California) should be ready for construction
contract award in fiscal year 2001. All of these projects are needed
and will only fall further behind schedule if not funded. A listing of
these projects in priority order is attached to this statement.
Our prioritized list of courthouse projects was established with
the goal of requesting approximately $500 million for site, design and
construction in each fiscal year. The judiciary would have kept to such
a schedule if our construction budget requests had been recognized by
the Administration in the fiscal years in which they were presented. In
fact, if our projects had received funding in this manner, the cost of
the fiscal year 2001 projects would have been closer to $500 million
than the $800 million that we are asking for.
In addition to creating backlogs, delayed funding of scheduled
courthouse projects can result in significant cost increases. Although
at one point GSA estimated that construction costs were increasing an
average of 3-4 percent for each year of delay, there have been several
situations where the escalation factors have been significantly higher.
For example, in Seattle it appears that costs increased in 1 year by
about 8 percent due to the rising construction market costs--not
because of any change in the project.
The workload of the Federal courts has grown tremendously over the
past 10 to 15 years, largely as a result of legislative efforts to wage
a Federal war on crime and the illegal drug trade. The courthouse
projects on the list for funding in fiscal year 2001 are in areas of
the country where there is dynamic population growth, combined with an
increase in law enforcement activities. Moreover, as the criminal
caseload has grown in number and complexity, the civil jurisdiction of
the Federal courts has also broadened and the number of bankruptcy
filings has risen substantially. Finally, we have seen major growth in
probation and pretrial services, with a staff of over 7,000 supervising
about 30,000 pretrial defendants and 100,000 released offenders a
number roughly equal to the inmate population of the Federal prison
Court facilities must keep pace with the need for additional judges
and court employees to handle these increased workloads. The same
Administration that proposes shrinking courthouses is also asking for
increased funding this year for additional border patrol agents and
U.S. Attorneys and for the construction of Federal prisons. Such law
enforcement activities inevitably result in an increase in the judicial
actions that must be handled in the Federal courts.
Many of the existing court facilities were built over 50 years ago
and have not been or cannot be altered to meet the needs of a modern
day justice system. Generally, older courthouse structures cannot
accommodate the technological advances necessary for a modern court.
Security for jurors, witnesses, court employees, judges, and the public
is compromised as they use the same hallways and elevators through
which the Marshals bring individuals who have been charged with or
convicted of serious crimes. In addition, problems with deteriorating
heating and cooling systems as well as other building infrastructure
problems will persist unless action is taken to fund the projects.
Without the necessary funding, the Federal judiciary will continue to
face serious space and security concerns. We have provided subcommittee
staff with a fact sheet on each courthouse project that describes the
current housing situation and the need for a project at that location.
As I noted earlier, this is the first time in the past 4 years that
funding has been included in the President's budget request for
courthouse projects. The fact that a request was submitted to the
Congress this year is a result of efforts made by this Committee, other
Members of Congress and the judiciary to impress the importance of a
courthouse construction program upon key White House decisionmakers.
The Committee's letter last year to the President was undoubtedly very
helpful. We also met with the White House Chief of Staff during the
fall of 1999, and he assured us that consideration would be given to a
program in fiscal year 2001. As I noted earlier, however, the Office of
Management and Budget unfortunately chose to reduce the number of
courtrooms in each of the projects. OMB in fact developed its own
courtroom sharing policy which is contrary to the policy approved by
the Judicial Conference in 1997. This was done without any study,
analysis, or understanding of the judicial system.
THE JUDICIARY'S EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN THE COURTHOUSE PROGRAM
Independent Review of the Judiciary's Space and Facilities Program
In recent years the judiciary has continually reviewed and
significantly improved the operation of the courthouse construction
program. Workforce growth and
changing security and operational requirements pose significant
challenges for this important program. It has been nearly 12 years
since the judiciary last conducted an independent management review of
its facilities program. As part of our on-going commitment to cost
containment and program assessment and evaluation, we contracted with
the consulting firm of Ernst and Young to review our entire space and
facilities program. The study, which is close to completion, will
address courtroom sharing and ``utilization,'' our long-range planning
process, courthouse design assumptions, internal space management
policies, business practices, funding mechanisms, and resource
allocation strategies. A critical dimension of the study involves
having Ernst and Young solicit the views of interested parties such as
the relevant congressional committees and others in the Congress, GSA,
OMB, the General Accounting Office, judges, attorneys, the United
States Marshals Service, and other court users. Ernst and Young is
using teams of experts in architecture, construction, economics, and
other areas to explore the issues raised and to develop
We expect a final report at the end of April for review by the
Conference's Committee on Security and Facilities. After our Committee
considers the consultant's recommendations, we will have to seek
approval of any policy changes from the Judicial Conference. In the
meantime, however, it is critical that the courthouse construction
program continue to move forward. It makes no sense to delay action on
the courthouse program because of an ongoing study--such a policy would
hamper innovation throughout the government. Moreover, Ernst and Young
has reported to the judiciary that the court projects requested by GSA
in the fiscal year 2001 budget are the result of methodical planning
and review processes put in place by the judiciary and GSA.
For the past few years, the topic of courtroom sharing has been in
the forefront of Congressional and executive branch inquiry and media
speculation. It has been suggested that because most courtrooms are not
in use 100 percent of the time, Federal judges should be able to share
courtrooms in order to save the cost of constructing courtrooms.
Recognizing these concerns, in 1997 the Judicial Conference thoroughly
reviewed the matter and adopted a policy on courtroom sharing. This
policy balances the essential need for judges to have an available
courtroom to fulfill their responsibilities with the economic reality
of limited resources. It provides one courtroom for each active
district judge and for each senior judge who maintains a substantial
caseload. For senior judges, who do not carry a caseload requiring
substantial use of a courtroom, and for visiting judges, the policy
sets forth a non-exclusive list of factors for circuit councils to
consider when determining the number of courtrooms needed at a
facility. Each of the projects on the attached list incorporates this
Notwithstanding the Conference's policy, I would like to emphasize
that there is no research which supports courtroom sharing. In
addition, the doctrine of separation of powers creates serious
constitutional concerns if the executive branch should attempt to
establish courtroom usage policy. Finally, it should be noted that none
of the 50 state-court systems has ever adopted a policy of sharing
Simplistic approaches to the assessment of courtroom needs, such as
the use of queuing theory, might suggest that one can simply add up the
average number of hours that judges spend in courtrooms and then
calculate the number of courtrooms that would be needed if all of those
courtroom hours were perfectly distributed. There are many fundamental
flaws with this notion, the foremost of which is the assumption that a
court is akin to a post office or bank, where litigants, witnesses,
jurors, probation officers, interpreters, court reporters, prisoners,
and others are lined up and waiting outside the courthouse door for the
next available courtroom. Under these conditions, due process, public
openness, security, and notification requirements would be essentially
Additional costs and delays for litigants, including the largest
litigant in the Federal courts--the Federal Government itself, would
also be significant. Delays in criminal proceedings will cause
potential problems with the Speedy Trial Act and increase expenses for
the Department of Justice's U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals and for
Federal public defenders. The last-minute cancellation of even one
civil jury trial due to the lack of a courtroom can result in many
thousands of dollars in legal fees and expert witness costs for the
The actual cost of a courtroom is an extremely small portion of the
construction budget for a courthouse. The courtroom, however, is the
essential tool used by the judge to accomplish his or her work, which
is the timely disposition of cases pending before the court. Certainly,
the minimal savings that might be realized from deleting one courtroom
from a courthouse is not worth the resulting loss of efficiency in the
judicial process. Moreover, when compared over its lifetime to the
overall cost of the courthouse, the courtroom cost is insignificant.
The General Services Administration has estimated that it costs about
$1.5 million to construct a courtroom and its associated spaces
(including jury rooms, attorney conference rooms, public waiting areas,
and prisoner holding cells). With use of these facilities expected for
at least 30 years, this equates to a construction cost for the
courtroom of $50,000 per year.
In Federal courts where courtroom sharing among active judges has
occurred out of necessity, judges have reported serious difficulties.
For example, the 3 to 2 ratio of judges to courtrooms suggested by OMB
is currently in effect in the Federal district courthouse in Brooklyn,
New York, while a new facility is under construction. The judges,
staff, and others affected have struggled to make it through the
temporary situation. Last minute changes, events that go over schedule,
and other difficulties have resulted in wasted time for judges and
other participants. Recently, a magistrate judge canceled a civil jury
trial the week before its scheduled start because the court could not
guarantee an available courtroom and the attorneys did not want to
incur the potentially exorbitant expert witnesses' fees. The earliest
date for rescheduling the trial was 2 months later. In another
situation, a defendant seeking a hearing to determine whether he should
remain in custody spent longer in detention than necessary because a
courtroom was not available for his hearing. One judge, frustrated by
his inability to obtain a courtroom, held a proceeding in a public park
outside the courthouse. These actual experiences demonstrate the
problems associated with courtroom sharing.
According to Ernst and Young, the judges in Brooklyn are uniform in
concluding that courtroom sharing has strained the operational
effectiveness of the court and that courtroom sharing as a permanent
policy would be counterproductive. A 3-to 2 ratio causes chaos in a
system that requires orderly process in order to be fair and just.
Prioritizing Courthouse Projects
The judiciary continues to review and update its prioritization of
projects using a weighted scoring methodology. By continuously
reviewing our priorities, we are able to ensure that changing
circumstances at a particular location are taken into account so that
necessary adjustments can be made. I am pleased to report that the
process we established in response to Congress's suggestion that all
projects be ranked in order of priority has worked quite well. I am
very concerned, however, that continued delays in funding courthouses
or reductions in the sizes of the buildings could result in a breakdown
of this prioritization process with individual districts attempting to
fulfill their needs without regard to the established process.
A courthouse project is not proposed for consideration unless the
district's long-range facility plan indicates that there is no more
room for district judges in the existing facility. In virtually every
proposed project, this determination is made after all executive branch
agencies and court-related units (probation, pretrial services, the
bankruptcy court) have been moved from the existing building. In this
sense, the expansion capacity of the building is the primary
consideration in determining the need to take some action.
The lack of sufficient space can cause great waste and inefficiency
in court operations. In worst case scenarios, trial courts are split
into separate facilities causing the dual management of records,
prisoners, and duplicate security screening. In addition, security
risks are a grave concern in all public buildings, including Federal
courthouses. Tragic events in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, shootings in
courthouses in Topeka, Kansas, and Chicago, Illinois, and serious
threats on the lives of judges who are trying international terrorists
underscore the need for proper security arrangements.
A number of new courthouses have been occupied over the past few
years. Public reaction has been very favorable. The courthouses being
delivered by GSA today are high quality, operationally efficient
buildings that should last well into this century.
Many lessons have been learned as the Congress, GSA and the
judiciary have worked together over the past several years on the
courthouse program. We have incorporated many of the recommendations
made by this Committee into our planning process and design standards
in order to improve management of the program. We will be studying
whether there are additional ways to control costs and make the program
even more effective in the months ahead. Security considerations
continue to be a major concern. The judiciary hopes the Committee will
recognize the actions taken by the Judicial Conference as evidence of
the judiciary's commitment to a productive and cooperative working
relationship. It is imperative that the integrity of the judiciary's
rightful role in determining courtroom usage remains intact; the
constitutional rights to trial and due process are too important to be
risked on whim. Nor should the guarantees of these constitutional
rights, which rest upon the presumption of adequate, dedicated
courtroom space, be held hostage to such uncertain, untested, and
untried cost-saving schemes. We ask that you take action to authorize
the new courthouse projects on the attached list in fiscal year 2001 at
the levels originally calculated by GSA in September 1999. We are also
committed to working with you on adopting appropriate recommendations
from Ernst and Young's final report.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee. I
would be pleased to answer any questions you might have at this time.
FY 2001 Courthouse Construction Projects--Judiciary Prioritized Plan
[In Millions of Dollars]
GSA Estimate Budget Request
1. Los Angeles, CA--S&D........... $36.203 $31.523
2. Seattle, WA--C................. 179.365 177.93
3. Richmond, VA--S&D.............. 19.581 19.476
4. Gulfport, MS--C................ 42.715 42.715
5. Washington, DC--C.............. 109.498 104.050
6. Buffalo, NY--S&D............... $3.599
7. Springfield, MA--C............. 41.378
8. Miami, FL--C................... 121.946 $110.950
9. El Paso, TX--S&D............... 7.208
10. Mobile, AL--S&D............... 8.123
11. Fresno, CA--C................. 111.783
12. Norfolk, VA--S&D.............. 9.593
13. Las Cruces, NM--D............. 1.900
14. Little Rock, AR--D (addtl. 5.428 1.82
15. Rockford, IL--S&D............. 2.837
16. Cedar Rapids--S&D............. 13.606
17. Nashville, TN--S&D............ 13.784
18. Erie, PA--C................... 27.013
19. Savannah, GA--C............... 46.462
Total........................... $801.239 $488.464
Responses of Judge Roth to Additional Questions from Senator Voinovich
Question. The courts and OMB seem to be at opposite ends of the
spectrum on this issue. What factors should be considered in an
effective courtroom sharing model?
Response. The judiciary has taken definitive steps to respond to
the issues raised by the Congress about the number of courtrooms needed
in new facilities. At its March 1997 session, the Judicial Conference
adopted a policy on courtroom sharing that balances the essential need
for judges to have an available courtroom to fulfill their
responsibilities with the economic reality of limited resources. The
policy is based on a judge's need for a courtroom rather than the
particular status of the judge. It continues the standard of providing
one courtroom for each active district court judge. In addition, with
regard to senior judges who do not carry a caseload requiring
substantial use of a courtroom and visiting judges, the policy sets
forth a non-exclusive list of factors for circuit councils to consider
when determining the number of courtrooms needed at a facility. Such
factors include an assessment of workload anticipated to be carried by
a senior judge and the number of years a senior judge is likely to
carry such a caseload, as well as evaluation of the complement of
courtrooms throughout the entire district. Courts are encouraged to
provide for flexible and varied use of courtrooms.
Moreover, the Conference asked the judicial councils, which have
the statutory authority to determine the need for court accommodations
(28 U.S.C. sec. 462(b)), to develop a policy on sharing courtrooms by
senior judges when a senior judge does not draw a caseload requiring
substantial use of a courtroom, and for visiting judges. These circuit-
wide policies assist the judiciary with containing the costs of court
facilities, while assuring the appropriate number of courtrooms
necessary to fulfill its constitutional mission.
The judiciary's policy of providing a courtroom for every active
judge is well supported by scholars and others in the legal community.
A 1996 study by an expert consultant, entitled Courtroom Sharing
Practices Among State and Local Trial Courts, found that it was the
policy in all 50 states to provide one trial courtroom for each judge.
Studies, reports and standards produced by the Rand Institute for Civil
Justice, the Brookings Institution, the National Center for State
Courts, and the American Bar Association support the idea that reducing
the number of courtrooms would result in trial delays and increased
Any short-term savings to be achieved by building too few
courtrooms will not be worth it in the long run. In addition to the
grave risks to our system of justice, when all of the attendant costs
are considered, it is doubtful that building fewer courtrooms will
bring a long-term economic benefit to the government and the public.
Given the expected continued growth of Federal cases in most districts,
it will shorten the useful life of a courthouse and simply escalate
future costs for needed expansion of courthouses that would be under-
built for today's needs, much less the needs of the future.
Determining the number of courtrooms needed in a facility or
whether a facility is needed at all are complex issues which defy
simplistic answers. Courtroom time measurement studies do not provide
the complete picture of courtroom utilization. Courtroom usage cannot
be adequately addressed by simply counting the hours that the lights
are ``on'' or ``off'' in the courtroom. Cases are assigned to judges,
not courtrooms. Having an available courtroom is necessary to assure
firm trial dates and a coherent approach to scheduling. This approach
to courtroom usage appropriately takes into account the scheduled use
of the courtroom or the ``latent'' use \1\ of the courtroom. Firm trial
dates promote settlement in civil cases and pleas in criminal cases,
thereby avoiding the need for and cost of trials. An available
courtroom also permits timely handling of unanticipated emergency
matters, such as requests for injunctions, grand jury problems,
contempt hearings, and detention and bail appeals. Moreover, providing
each active district judge a courtroom accommodates unscheduled
opportunities to settle large multi-party cases, opportunities that may
be lost without the immediate access to a courtroom. This practice also
ensures that cases that go to trial are handled expeditiously, as
encouraged by the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 and the Civil Justice Reform
Act of 1990.
\1\ The fact that a courtroom is readily available facilitates
settlement because parties then seriously consider the risks and
benefits of going to trial. This is known as ``latent'' use of a
Courtrooms are scheduled for trial long before the actual trial
date. If a case settles on the eve of trial, that courtroom is suddenly
empty and cannot be rescheduled immediately due to basic due process
noticing requirements. The empty courtroom is a sign that the judiciary
is working (not that the courtroom is unnecessary), that trial has been
avoided, and moneys have been saved by the courts, the litigants, and
Courtroom scheduling is a dynamic part of a judge's case management
activities to control hundreds of cases. In our judicial system,
individual judges are accountable for the management of cases assigned
to them and for the movement of their dockets. Research and practice
have demonstrated the importance of setting a certain trial date to the
expeditious disposition of cases. Many courtroom events are scheduled
months in advance, and it is common to schedule more than one event to
occur at the same time because of the uncertainties of the adversarial
process. Taking the risk of conflicting dates is a close matter, even
for a judge with an assigned courtroom, because cases and related
events do not always play out as envisioned. With no guarantee of a
courtroom, the risk is considerably higher.
Simply stated, courtroom-sharing is too important to be implemented
based on a whim or speculation. In Federal courts where courtroom
sharing among active judges has occurred out of necessity, the judges
have reported serious difficulties. For example, the 3/2 ratio of
courtrooms to judges suggested by OMB is currently in effect in the
Federal district courthouse in Brooklyn, NY, while a new facility is
under construction. The judges, staff, and others affected have
struggled to make it through the temporary situation. Last minute
changes, events that go over schedule and other difficulties have
resulted in wasted time for judges and other participants. Recently, a
magistrate judge canceled a civil jury trial the week before its
scheduled date because the court could not guarantee an available
courtroom and the attorneys did not want to incur the potentially
exorbitant expert witnesses' fees. The earliest date for rescheduling
the trial was 2 months later. In another situation, a defendant seeking
a hearing to determine whether he should remain in custody spent longer
in detention than necessary because a courtroom was not available. One
judge held a proceeding in a public park outside the courthouse. These
actual experiences demonstrate the practical effects of courtroom
sharing. According to notes from Ernst & Young, the Brooklyn judges are
uniform in concluding that courtroom sharing has placed a constraint on
the operational effectiveness of the court and that courtroom sharing
as a permanent policy would be counterproductive.
The judiciary strongly objects to OMB's recent action of applying
its courtroom sharing policy. At its March session, the Judicial
Conference took a position strongly condemning the unilateral efforts
of the Of flee of Management and Budget to impose a courtroom sharing
policy on the judicial branch, as an unwarranted and inappropriate
intrusion into the constitutionally mandated independence of the
judiciary. The judiciary was neither consulted nor informed by the
President's budget of lice of its actions which impinge on the
independence of the judiciary and raise serious questions of both the
constitutional separation of powers and statutory law.
STATEMENT OF HARRY T. EDWARDS, CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE D.C. CIRCUIT
For the past 7 years, the courts of the District of Columbia
Circuit have worked diligently with the General Services Administration
to develop plans for annex construction and renovation of the E.
Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse. Michael Graves/SHG, Inc. will
complete the architectural drawings on May 15, 2000. As of that date,
the project will be ready for the construction bid process. Several
independent studies have verified that the annex project is the most
efficient and cost-effective way to solve the serious safety, security,
and space problems endemic to the existing courthouse.
In short, there is no dispute over the justifications supporting
the annex project. The United States Judicial Conference, the Office of
Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, the
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the courts of the D.C.
Circuit all agree that an annex should be constructed and the
courthouse renovated. The only question is whether the annex project
should be funded as presently designed or whether funding should be cut
pursuant to an astonishingly misguided budget submission from OMB.
I. OMB'S PROPOSAL WOULD ACTUALLY INCREASE THE COST OF THE ANNEX PROJECT
WHILE DECREASING THE SIZE AND FUNCTIONALITY OF THE BUILDING
The courts of the D.C. Circuit, with endorsements from the Judicial
Conference of the United States, and the Administrative Office of the
U.S. Courts, are seeking $109,498,000 to complete the annex
construction project. OMB, on the other hand, has submitted a budget
proposal to Congress seeking only $104,050,000 for the annex project.
OMB's budget figure is premised on the assumption that $5.4 million
would be saved by the application of a new ``courtroom sharing'' policy
that would eliminate four courtrooms from the project design. OMB is
wrong. In fact, if the courts were required to redesign the annex
project to satisfy OMB's specious courtroom sharing policy, the
construction project would end up costing $4.3 million more than the
In other words, OMB's proposal would result in the government
paying substantially more for a smaller, less functional building.
Paying more for less normally defies good business judgment and common
sense; and it is completely inexcusable when, as with OMB's proposal,
it will result in a waste of taxpayer dollars.
A. OMB's Proposal Would Add $3 Million, Not $940 Thousand, to Design
As currently designed, $109,498,000 is needed to construct the
annex and renovate the courthouse. OMB, however, has requested only
$104,050,000 for the annex project, on the erroneous assumption that
the elimination of four courtrooms would save $5.4 million. OMB has
estimated that $924,000 would cover the total amount required for the
redesign effort. This figure reflects an unfathomable miscalculation.
Indeed, according to GSA officials at the regional office responsible
for managing the annex project, architectural redesign costs, alone,
will exceed $3,000,000 if OMB's design is adopted. OMB officials
obviously do not understand what is at stake with the annex project.
The $109 million annex project for which construction funding is
being sought is the product of 7 years of exhaustive effort by
countless people in numerous institutions. It is preposterous for OMB
to suggest that the courts of the D.C. Circuit abandon the architect's
work at this late date, especially when the construction of a
redesigned (and less functional) building will cost more than the
current design. The simple truth that escapes OMB is that a redesign
effort would be a massive and costly undertaking, and to no good end.
First, the redesign effort would affect virtually every aspect of
the completed Graves/SHG architectural design. This is so because the
number and location of the courtrooms dictate the building massing and
the exterior design. Furthermore, chambers, office, support, and
mechanical space are inextricably linked to the location and placement
of the courtrooms. There is simply no easy way to extricate four
courtrooms from the project. OMB's proposal would necessitate a costly
reconsideration and redesign of almost all annex floor plates, as well
as the basic organization of the building.
Second, because the courthouse is situated on the Pennsylvania
Avenue corridor in Washington, D.C., the exterior design and massing
are subject to review and approval by the Commission on Fine Arts and
the National Capital Planning Commission. These review processes are
lengthy. Preliminary approval of the current design took more than a
year to secure. If the exterior is reduced or reconfigured, as it
necessarily must be under the OMB proposal, the approval processes must
start anew. This adds additional time and cost to the redesign effort.
B. OMB's Proposal Would Produce $7 Million in Escalated Costs
OMB's proposal, if implemented, would result in an extremely costly
two and a half year delay. Currently, construction costs are estimated
to escalate by 3 percent per year. For a project this size, the
escalation costs alone are estimated to be $7,000,000.
The Graves/SHG design was completed months ago and, under the
current schedule, the construction documents will be finalized in May.
If construction funds are approved by October 2000, a construction
contract will be awarded shortly thereafter and groundbreaking will
take place in January 2001. On this timetable, the annex will be
completed in June 2003, and the renovations to the existing building
will be completed by July 2004.
If the proposed OMB redesign is mandated, the entire schedule would
be pushed back by more than two and a half years. The redesign effort
could not start until January 2001, when redesign funds would become
available. It would then take a minimum of 2 years to complete the
revised design; thereafter, it would take at least four to 5 months to
procure a construction contract. At best, construction would begin in
June 2003 and would be concluded in December 2006.
C. OMB's Proposal Involves Hidden Expenses of More Than $681,000
In addition to the redesign and escalation costs, there are hidden
expenses not reflected in the OMB calculations. There would be
additional personnel costs associated with the government's management
of the project during the two and a half year delay. The GSA regional
office estimates that its share of the personnel costs would be at
least $390,000. And, this does not account for the time that would be
contributed by judges and court staff members. For more than 2 years,
the courts have spent thousands of hours working with the architects to
ensure that the current design met the Circuit's operational
requirements and complied with every national standard applicable to
courthouse construction projects. This time and cost factor would be
doubled if a redesign is required.
Finally, there would be increased costs for management and
inspection services performed by consultants. These costs are estimated
by the GSA regional office to be $291,500.
Overall, implementation of the OMB proposal would cost the
government and the taxpayers $9,757,500 more than the $104,050,000 OMB
has estimated would be needed to construct the annex with four fewer
courtrooms. In return, the taxpayers and the government would receive a
smaller and less functional building that would not adequately address
the Circuit's future space needs.
II. OMB'S PROPOSAL FAILS TO ADDRESS LONG-TERM PLANNING CONCERNS
A. The OMB Proposal Would Eventually Necessitate a Costly and
Inefficient Dispersal of Circuit Operations
Quite apart from its faulty financial assumptions, OMB's proposal
ignores the unique composition of the D.C. Circuit that, of necessity,
must drive any responsible long-term building plan. In contrast to
other Federal circuits, all courts of the D.C. Circuit--including the
Court of Appeals, the District Court, the Bankruptcy Court, and the
Magistrate Judges--together with their associated support units--the
Circuit Executive's Office, Circuit Library, Clerks' Offices, Probation
Office, Court Reporters' Office, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service
and the Court Security Officers--are all housed in a single courthouse.
This facilitates efficient court operations and convenient access for
the bar and public.
The annex project, as currently designed, is the only viable means
of maintaining all of these entities in one facility; it is also the
only fiscally responsible option for accommodating the Circuit's future
growth. The Circuit's growth projections are very conservative and they
have been studied continuously throughout the life of the annex
project. The project has been carefully designed to meet these needs.
If the size of the annex is reduced pursuant to the OMB proposal,
future growth cannot be accommodated on the current site. And court
entities eventually would have to move from the existing courthouse
As demonstrated by the Feasibility and Prospectus Development
Studies for the project, alternative housing options, including moving
the various units to leased space and/or the construction of a new
building on a separate site, are far too costly to be seriously
considered. The studies found that by renovating and expanding the
existing courthouse, the annex project provided the most cost-effective
solution and the only one that would allow all Circuit operations to
remain together for the long term.
B. The OMB Proposal Invites a Fiscally Unsound Use of the Limited Space
Available for Long-Term Development
The Graves/SHG design makes maximum use of a very small but
extremely valuable site. Given the physical limitations of the property
and the height restrictions imposed on all Washington buildings, it is
critical that the size of the annex shell, as originally authorized by
Congress, remain unchanged. As currently designed, the project utilizes
all of the remaining space on the site of the current courthouse. The
intention is to build once and only once to meet all of the Circuit's
needs well into the future. To do otherwise, as OMB proposes, would be
fiscally irresponsible. Once construction is completed on the annex
site, it would be virtually impossible to add to the site. And even if
some design could be conceived to build out the annex, the redundant
costs would be extraordinary. Thus, even if the redesign resulted in
short-term savings, which it does not, it would make no fiscal sense in
the long term. The annex project, as currently designed, is the
Circuit's single best opportunity to address its current and future
needs on the site of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse.
Furthermore, maximizing use of this particular property, which is
the last buildable site available on the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor,
is consistent with good real estate management practices. As the land
owner, the government is responsible for developing the property to its
``highest and best use.'' The annex project, if executed as currently
planned, will result in the best use of this unique site and will
provide the highest return on the investment.
C. OMB's Proposal Will Delay the Remedy of Existing Security and Safety
If the OMB proposal is implemented, the security and safety
problems that the annex project is designed to remedy will go
unanswered for 6 years due to the extended timetable. These problems
have grown worse in the time that has elapsed since the planning and
design process began and will only be exacerbated by continuing delays.
These serious deficiencies demand immediate action. Failure to act in a
timely fashion on this particular project could prove dangerous for
those who must occupy and visit the building.
We strongly urge Congress to approve the $109 million that the
courts of the D.C. Circuit are seeking to construct a new annex and
renovate the existing courthouse. OMB's proposal to redesign the annex
project should be rejected. As already shown, the application of OMB's
courtroom sharing policy to the annex project would produce absurd
results, requiring taxpayers to pay more for a smaller, less functional
building. The annex project is well beyond the point at which
significant changes to the core design can be justified.
Throughout all phases of the annex project, the judges of the D.C.
Circuit have made a concerted effort to ensure that the project yields
a functional, cost-effective facility appropriate for modern court
operations for many years to come. We have been purposely modest in our
expectations and have required that the architects create a no-frills
design which adheres strictly to every national standard, requirement,
and policy adopted by the U.S. Judicial Conference.
The only responsible way to conclude the annex project is to
proceed with the construction as currently planned. To do otherwise
would result in a terrible misuse of government funds. We therefore
look for the annex project to continue as originally authorized by
Congress; and, to this end, we respectfully request that the full
amount of funding needed to complete the construction--$109,489,000--be
STATEMENT OF EDWARD B. DAVIS, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE, SOUTHERN
DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
I appreciate the opportunity to submit to the Subcommittee this
statement relative to the construction of a new Federal courthouse for
the Southern District of Florida in Miami.
The Miami courthouse was one of the seven courthouse projects
included in the President's budget submittal for fiscal year 2001. GSA
estimated the cost to complete the Miami project would be approximately
$122 million. However, OMB reduced the funding estimates requested by
GSA to approximately $111 million. According to the notes in the budget
documents, these reductions assume courtroom sharing by all judges. As
far as we are aware, no one in the Judiciary has ever discussed, much
less consented to, the development of such a policy for this project,
and its inclusion in the budget comes as a complete surprise. It is
contrary to the Judiciary's current policy for courtroom sharing
involving active and senior district judges. The effect of this sharing
on the Miami courthouse will reduce the number of courtrooms planned by
half, from 16 to 8.
Our Court urges the Subcommittee to overturn OMB'S decision for the
1. Our needs for courtrooms and chambers have been consistently
underestimated.--We have been the country's leader in trying criminal
cases involving drugs since the mid-1970's. Our ability to dispose of
drug cases, while maintaining a reasonably current calendar with civil
cases, has been hindered by a lack of proper facilities.
As an example of this shortsightedness, when an Annex to our
original Courthouse (the Tower annex) was finally erected in 1983 with
9 courtrooms and chambers, we had 10 United States District Judges
residing in Miami. The chief judge volunteered to stay in the old Post
Office facilities while the rest of us moved into the Tower Building.
This courthouse was inadequate to serve our then current needs, much
less the 30-year requirements projected by GSA at that time.
We realized that additional space would be needed as projected by
extremely high population growth, no letdown in the drug trade coming
through South Florida, and an ever-increasing civil caseload.
Ultimately, GSA suggested that two new 11-story buildings be erected on
the block north of the current courthouses: one for the District Court
containing 16 chambers and courtrooms, an Eleventh Circuit courtroom,
and chambers for 5 United States Court of Appeals Judges; and another
11-story building to house the U.S. Attorney and his staff. The Bureau
of Prisons, however, purchased one-half of the full city block, which
the Courts had intended to use, for a much needed metropolitan
correctional center. That facility is the largest in the United States.
Since both buildings could not be constructed side by side as
originally planned, and as a stopgap measure, we agreed with GSA in
1993 to use the top four floors of the first building then under
construction, the Federal Justice Building (subsequently renamed the
James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building). It was originally
intended to be an office building housing the U.S. Attorney and his
staff. This allowed the 12th floor for the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals, the 10th and 11th floors for our United States District
Court's courtroom functions, and a jury assembly room and Grand Jury
facilities on the 9th floor of the building. The balance of the
building (8 floors reduced from the 11 floors needed by the U.S.
Attorney) was assigned to the Department of Justice for U.S. Attorney
use. Although this has been an extremely helpful interim measure, since
we had six new District courtrooms filled with judges taking full
caseloads, we have already been requested to release space as soon as
possible to the U.S. Attorney who has an overcrowding problem, and to
consider giving certain space to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
which is outgrowing its own space.
2. The Southern District of Florida is the busiest trial court in
the Federal System [continuing]. The effort to reduce courtrooms
obviously has a greater impact on a trial court burdened with extremely
heavy trial schedules compared to courts that are not located in this
sensitive part of the country where the drug trade imports so much of
its illegal substances for further distribution. For example, this
Court has tried more criminal jury trials than any court in the
country, regardless of size, in each of the last 6 years. In addition,
over that same period it has tried more combined civil and criminal
jury trials per judge than any metropolitan court in the country. When
you compare its trial activity to those of other busy Federal Courts in
other large metropolitan areas, our Court more than doubles the
criminal jury trial activity.
3. The need for two large courtrooms.--We have also requested two
special proceeding courtrooms for judges to try multiple defendant
cases. We try more long, multi-defendant criminal trials by far than
any other court in the country. GSA's 1992 prospectus provided for six
oversize courtrooms. We only requested two. OMB, without explanation,
decided this second courtroom was not necessary.
4. Savings by backfilling.--We agreed that the old Post Office and
Tower buildings be backfilled with Magistrate Judges and the Bankruptcy
Court and the Federal Public Defender's Office taking over the old Post
Office building, thereby saving substantial funds from currently leased
facilities. Without sufficient courtrooms in the new courthouse, these
savings will not be realized.
5. The reduction is not cost effective.--The design for our new
courthouse has already been approved; is over 50 percent complete; and
was scheduled to be 100 percent complete by mid-March, 2000. The absurd
cost of redesign is certainly fiscally irresponsible. GSA estimates the
cost of a complete redesign to be approximately $2,300,000, and a 1-
year delay could result in additional costs of over $4 million. We are
currently on schedule to break ground in March of 2001, and any delay
will simply drive up costs and put scarce resources into the hands of
contractors, suppliers and architects instead of much needed
6. No space available for visiting judges.--We have judges residing
in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach that receive Miami cases under
our blind random filing system. Although this represents a limited
number of cases, all judges have agreed to try cases where venue lies.
These judges would have no space available to try the cases if this
limitation on space occurred.
7. The concept of locating all active judges in one building.--
Housing all active district judges and senior judges carrying large
caseloads in the same building will lead to better performance and more
efficiency. New judges will be able to seek immediate advice from more
experienced judges. It will ease the transfer of hearings and other
legal matters on short notice.
The inefficiency and cost of continuing to move judges, staff,
jurors, prisoners and the public between two or three buildings are
Our studies, which we believe to be conservative, project 14 active
district judges and 5 senior judges when the courthouse becomes
available for occupancy in 2004. Our estimate is for 21 judges in 2015.
By 2022, the projections show 31 judges (active and senior) located in
I believe no active district judge would move into a building where
he or she would not be able to carry out his or her constitutional
responsibilities of professionally disposing of caseloads that are
overwhelming. Our courtroom is our office. Its lack of availability
greatly impacts not only trials, but settlements as well.
8. We believe that this action by OMB is impermissible as both a
violation of constitutional separation of powers and statutory law.--
Under the current statutory scheme adopted by Congress, 28 U.S.C.
Sec. 462 provides that the Director of the Administrative Office shall
provide accommodations, including chambers and courtrooms for the
judiciary, but only if the Circuit's Judicial Council has approved the
accommodations as necessary. GSA is authorized and directed to provide
the accommodations requested by the Director.
The Court recognizes that Congress also has the exclusive power of
the purse and the power to regulate property owned by the United
States. In our case, the reduction of courtrooms does not involve an
Executive agency carrying out the will of Congress, but rather an
Executive agency performing a unilateral act that directly intrudes in
the internal affairs of the Judiciary. We believe that to allow the
executive branch to arbitrarily limit present and future courthouses to
three judges for every two courtrooms would violate the separation of
powers provisions of the Constitution as the Executive has no role in
the provision of accommodations to the Judiciary beyond that provided
In addition, the executive branch's actions in this instance has
intruded not only on the Judicial Branch, but on the legislative branch
prerogative whose 1993 prospectus called for the construction of 16
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for giving the Southern District of
Florida the opportunity to express our views on this very important
matter and urge that the full $122 million be authorized for
construction of the Miami courthouse.
STATEMENT OF JOHN E. CONWAY, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE, DISTRICT OF
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, for the
opportunity to submit for the hearing record this statement regarding
the Las Cruces, New Mexico courthouse construction project. In its
fiscal year 2001 submittal to the Office of Management and Budget, the
General Services Administration (GSA) requested $1.9 million to design
an annex to the Harold L. Runnels Federal Building and United States
Courthouse, located at 200 East Griggs in Las Cruces. Unfortunately,
the final budget did not include any funding for the Las Cruces
project. I would like to explain to the Subcommittee today the current
plans and need for space in the Las Cruces Division of the District of
As I just stated, the original request by GSA this year was for
funding to design an annex to our existing facility. In March 2000,
however, GSA conducted a feasibility study to determine the best
alternatives to satisfy the 10-year projected space needs for the
Runnels Building. Four alternatives were considered, and a preliminary
decision has been made in the region that the preferred alternative is
now to build a free-standing new courthouse, instead of an annex. I
want to make you aware of this today, although a final decision at GSA
headquarters has not yet been made. Under this plan, the new courthouse
would be constructed just south of the existing Runnels building on
land which is already federally owned and currently serves as an
employee parking lot. The existing courthouse then would be backfilled
with non-court agencies and serve as a Federal building for Las Cruces
until such time as it would be needed for overflow from the newly
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXISTING AND PROPOSED SPACE SITUATIONS
The existing Runnels Federal Building (Runnels Building), built in
1974, presently provides space for the U.S. District Court which
includes district and magistrate judge functions, the Clerk's Office,
the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation Office. A further
delay in the building project would require the U.S. Probation Office
to move out of the Runnels Building into leased space and possibly even
into modular facilities. U.S. Pretrial Services, the Federal Public
Defender and the U.S. Attorney's offices have already been moved out
and are housed in leased space apart from the Runnels Building. The
Runnels Building has 2 district judge courtrooms, 2 magistrate judge
courtrooms, 1 small courtroom and 1 very small hearing room. Currently
this space is utilized by:
5 district judges and 2 circuit judges (they will be
assisting the district court with our caseload) who rotate from
Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Roswell on a monthly basis;
2 magistrate judges, 1 recalled magistrate judge and
magistrate judges who rotate from Albuquerque twice a month for 2-3
2 bankruptcy judges, who take turns visiting from
Albuquerque every 4-6 weeks, usually for a week at a time. (In
addition, a bankruptcy trustee holds hearings in the Runnels Building
if space is available, but the trustee often has had to use space in a
nearby hotel for court proceedings).
Various visiting senior district judges from districts
outside the District of New Mexico (Judges from the Eastern District of
Louisiana, the Western District of Michigan, the Western District of
Texas and the Districts of Connecticut and Nebraska have held court
recently at the Runnels Building).
Numerous Federal agencies who use court space for
administrative hearings and other official meetings include The Office
of Hearings and Appeals (Social Security Administration), the Railroad
Retirement Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the
Department of Energy, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
This saves rental moneys for these agencies.
Upon completion of the new courthouse, the current Runnels
Building would be backfilled with non-court Federal agencies as
previously stated. This will fill space needs for these agencies, as
adequate office facilities in Las Cruces do not currently exist.
The new courthouse would have 6 courtrooms and 8 chambers for 2
district judges, 3 magistrate judges, 1 senior judge, the rotating
judges and 1 bankruptcy judge. The building will house the grand jury
room, a petit jury assembly area, the Clerk's Office, U.S. Probation
and U.S. Pretrial offices. The U.S. Marshal's Service, sally port,
holding cells and secure parking will also be part of the facilities.
SECURITY AND SPACE ISSUES UNIQUE TO THE LAS CRUCES DIVISION
Many of the space and security problems of the existing facility
are related to the fact that the Runnels Building was not designed or
intended to be used primarily as a courthouse. The Las Cruces Division
of the District of New Mexico currently operates under substandard
conditions and serious security deficiencies. The original occupants in
the Runnels Building included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the
Department of Labor, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Soil
Conservation, and congressional staffs, all of which have moved out to
accommodate the court's dramatically increased space needs. The Runnels
Building originally had a single courtroom which was used infrequently
because there was no district judge residing in Las Cruces when the
Runnels Building opened and only a part-time magistrate judge who
operated out of his law office which was not located in the Runnels
As a consequence, the Runnels Building does not have separate
entrances and vertical circulation (stairs and elevators) for prisoners
and judges and the public. Moreover, there has never been any secured
parking. The U.S. Marshals Service does not have a secured sallyport
for the delivery and intake of prisoners. Prisoners are driven into and
unloaded in the small outdoor surface parking lot used by the judges
and court personnel (see attached photos). This often results in
judges, staff members, and other court personnel encountering prisoners
being loaded or unloaded in the parking lot or awaiting entry at the
same courthouse entrance used by both prisoners and judges. Also, the
U.S. Marshal's Service does not have adequate holding cells inside the
Runnels Building. This situation severely limits the ability of the
U.S. Marshal's Service to safely process prisoners and to provide
security to the judges, their staff, other building occupants and the
public. There is a single elevator that is used by the judges, jurors,
court personnel, criminal defendants, witnesses and the general public.
This elevator is also used for building services, including deliveries
and freight. Due to the lack of adequate space in the Runnels Building,
defendants, their family members, and witnesses are forced to stand
next to each other in the hallway awaiting the commencement of
proceedings, often creating hostile and potentially dangerous
The Runnels Building is set close to three public streets and has
been subjected to a number of acts of vandalism including broken
windows in a magistrate judge's chambers suite and the grand jury room.
Judges' chambers on the 2nd and 3rd floors lack adequate security
measures such as protective window glazing. The security of this
facility was recently reclassified by the Tenth Circuit Council to a
``highly critical'' level.
Due to the shortage of adequate space in the Runnels Building the
magistrate judge who was appointed in 1995 has been using the grand
jury suite as his chambers and a converted conference room as a
courtroom for almost 4 years. Two of the three courtrooms with full-
sized jury boxes were constructed in space designed for office use and
have columns that obstruct views. The petit jury assembly room, which
is also used for other purposes such a training, meetings, etc., is
severely undersized at 700 square feet. The heating and air
conditioning system has been ``piece-meal'' in design and installation.
This results in annoying temperature differences and uneven airflow
throughout the entire building. Las Cruces experiences temperature
extremes with many summer days having highs in excess of 100 degrees.
At least two times during the past 6 months the roof has leaked above
one of the courtrooms, causing significant water damage. GSA had
indicated in 1994 that major systems in the Runnels Building were near
the end of their useful lives. Since that time, modernization of the
Runnels Building's systems has been on hold awaiting the pending
The District of New Mexico is ranked fourth nationally among the 94
Federal districts in criminal felony filings per judgeship. As of
December 1999, about 65 percent of the district's criminal caseload was
originating at the Runnels Building in the Las Cruces divisional
office. The criminal caseload greatly increased over the prior year;
i.e., 47 percent, and has almost doubled since 1995. In 1999 a total of
3,197 hearings were conducted before Article III judges in the entire
district. Of those, 1,557 (49 percent) were held at the Runnels
Building in the Las Cruces division. To accommodate the high number of
hearings at the Runnels Building, judges have, on occasion, been forced
to ask permission to use State court facilities when all of the
courtrooms at the Runnels Building were occupied. During 1999 the
magistrate judges of the district reported 8,048 preliminary felony
proceedings (including initial appearances, attorney appointment
hearings, detention hearings, bail reviews, preliminary examinations
and arraignments). The two resident magistrate judges in Las Cruces
handled 5,287 cases or 63 percent of this workload. The district is
also currently ranked fifth in the Nation for trials completed per
Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico and is located
225 miles south of Albuquerque and just 45 miles north of the border of
The Republic of Mexico. The population at Las Cruces has increased
significantly over the past 5 years; Las Cruces is the ninth fastest
growing city in the United States. Recently Congress funded substantial
increases in the personnel of law enforcement agencies operating along
the Mexican border. This soon will result in a rapid and even larger
increase in the number of criminal cases that must be handled in the
Las Cruces division. Based on the court's caseload projection, it is
anticipated that within the next 10 years accommodations will be needed
at the Las Cruces Division for 2 new district judges, 1 new bankruptcy
judge, and 2 new magistrate judges in order to handle the anticipated
The bankruptcy judges routinely rotate to Las Cruces to hear cases.
In addition, meetings of creditors convened by the bankruptcy trustees
are also held in Las Cruces. Las Cruces and the southern end of the
State are drawing a large influx of retirees which spawns service
businesses, and due to low commodity prices, the copper industry is
laying off large numbers of people. Las Cruces is the site of 20-50
percent of the creditors' meetings and a great deal of judicial
workload originates in the southern part of the State as indicated by
county code. There is a high emotional factor related to bankruptcy
cases, but there is no security presence at the creditors' meetings
when held in Las Cruces. Bankruptcy caseload filings for Albuquerque
from 1995 through 1999 have increased by approximately 90 percent
throughout this 5-year period. Bankruptcy reform legislation, which is
currently pending in Congress, could have an impact on the future
workload for the bankruptcy court.
If this project does not proceed as planned, the court will be
forced to move judicial officers to leased buildings outside the
existing facility. This will result in high costs to the government for
leased space and will multiply security costs. Moreover, by leaving
unaddressed the immediate space and security problems, the court
operations at the Runnels Building would be further compromised. In
closing, the court requests that the Subcommittee authorize the funds
for this courthouse project.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM M. SKRETNY, JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT, WESTERN
DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
I appreciate the opportunity to submit a statement to the
subcommittee for the hearing record to explain the need for a new Annex
to the United States Courthouse Building in Buffalo, New York.
My name is Bill Skretny and for the last 6 years I have been a
member of the Judicial Conference's Security and Facilities Committee,
now chaired by Judge Roth whom you heard from earlier, and additionally
I am Chairman of its Subcommittee on Space Management and Planning. In
part, it has been our job to assess needy courthouse construction
projects. It is from this experience that I make the following
The Buffalo Courthouse Annex project, for which the General
Services Administration (GSA) has asked $3.599 million to purchase a
site and to hire an architect, now is No. 6 on the Federal judiciary's
list of prioritized projects for fiscal year 2001.
Initially, we were very pleased to hear that after a 3-year hiatus,
the President this year chose to include a funding request for the
GSA's courthouse construction program in his budget submittal to
Congress. That was short-lived, however, because we soon learned that
the President's Budget skipped over the Buffalo Annex project, while
funding other projects further down on the list.
More specifically, the President's budget included funding for
construction projects numbered one through five (LA, Seattle, Richmond,
Gulfport & DC) from the judiciary's prioritized list. But then, it
skipped Buffalo at No. 6 and went on to No. 8 (Miami). It also added
some design money for No. 14, Little Rock, Arkansas. To assist you, I
have included a copy of the list of prioritized projects with my
statement for your reference.
Frankly, this hasn't been all that good a year for Buffalo. If you
are a sports fan, you probably know about the no-goal goal that cost
the Sabres a chance for the Stanley Cup, and the miracle forward-pass
lateral that eliminated the Bills from the playoffs. It's kind of like
falling victim to Gaffuso's extension to Murphy's Law, that is,
``nothing can be so bad that it can't get worse''. Now this!
Honestly though, I am not discouraged because I truly believe
justice is on our side and that with your enlightened intervention, it
will come to fruition. For your edification, let me briefly explain
``why'' and three brief reasons for my optimism:
(1) Putting aside for the moment that additional delays inevitably
will increase the cost of the Annex project, GSA is asking for a very
modest $3.599 million for site and design.
When the Buffalo Courthouse project first made the priority list
approximately 4 years ago, it initially was for an entire new
courthouse. At that time, the projected construction cost was
approximately $85 million. Today, ours is an Annex project which we
expect to come in at a cost of approximately $44 million.
From the outset we have been well aware of Congress' concern with
fiscal responsibility and the reality that available dollars for
national construction projects are finite. In a sense, we went back to
the drawing boards with GSA, and after some serious soul searching and
creativity, we ttled upon an Annex, rather than an entire new
courthouse building. This should result in the dramatic cost savings
that I just mentioned. And importantly, it will still adequately meet
our court and security needs. Thus, a very modest $3.599 million is
critically needed for site and design.
(2) The Annex design contemplates an over-the-street link from the
main courthouse to the Annex. This is what makes our proposed Annex
structure suitable, and obviates the need for an entire new courthouse.
As I speak, there is one site and only one site that makes this project
possible. It presently is available, but if the opportunity to acquire
it now is lost, it may be irreparable.
(3) Finally, the Western New York community and the judiciary truly
need this Annex project. For one thing, it will result in the
preservation and full utilization of the present historic courthouse
building in downtown Buffalo where it has served since 1938. For
another, the Annex will remedy presently existing dangerous conditions
that affect both the public and courthouse employees on almost a daily
Specifically, the Dillon Courthouse is a historical building which
cannot be altered to any major degree. As such, it has no separate
elevators for transportation of prisoners, judges and the public. All
users of the building must mingle, to some degree, on elevators and in
hallways. This puts a great strain on the United States Marshals
Service and others charged with providing security not only for the
judiciary but also for litigants, witnesses, jurors, court staff and
the public generally.
More to the point is a condition that involves my own courtroom.
Virtually every time there are multiple-arrest roundups, prisoners are
detained in holding cells immediately adjacent to the entrance ways to
my courtroom and chambers. This often requires that courtroom
proceedings be interrupted and staff alerted to warn of the presence
and transporting of prisoners. The inherent problems with this are self
evident. Realistically, in a sense, we are on borrowed time. Something
has to be done and the Annex is the answer.
I have attached a fact sheet which provides greater detail on the
Buffalo Annex Project. On behalf of my Chief Judge, David Larimer and
the other members of the bench in the Western District of New York, I
want to thank the subcommittee for considering these comments and urge
that $3.599 million be authorized for site and design of the Buffalo
FY 2001 Courthouse Construction Projects--Judiciary Prioritized Plan
[In Millions of Dollars]
GSA Estimate Budget Request
1. Los Angeles, CA--S&D........... $36.203 $31.523
2. Seattle, WA--C................. 179.365 177.93
3. Richmond, VA--S&D.............. 19.581 19.476
4. Gulfport, MS--C................ 42.715 42.715
5. Washington, DC--C.............. 109.498 104.050
6. Buffalo, NY--S&D............... 3.599
7. Springfield, MA--C............. 41.378
8. Miami, FL--C................... 121.946 110.950
9. El Paso, TX--S&D............... 7.208
10. Mobile, AL--S&D............... 8.123
11. Fresno, CA--C................. 111.783
12. Norfolk, VA--S&D.............. 9.593
13. Las Cruces, NM--D............. 1.900
14. Little Rock, AR--D (addtl. 5.428 1.82
15. Rockford, IL--S&D............. 2.837
16. Cedar Rapids--S&D............. 13.606
17. Nashville, TN--S&D............ 13.784
18. Erie, PA--C................... 27.013
19. Savannah, GA--C............... 46.462
Total........................... $801.239 $488.464
United States Courthouse, Buffalo, NY
SITE AND DESIGN
The proposed project is for the site acquisition and design of an
annex to the Michael J. Dillon U.S. Courthouse (Dillon Courthouse) in
Buffalo, New York. Following completion of the annex construction, the
entire District Court and most court-related functions will be housed
in the Dillon Courthouse and armex. The Judiciary's Five-Year Plan for
2000-2004 included site acquisition and design of a new courthouse
annex in Buffalo, in fiscal year 2000. However, the President's fiscal
year 2000 budget did not include funds for any courthouse projects.
While the President's fiscal year 2001 budget does include funding for
some courthouses, it does not include funds for the Buffalo site and
The Judicial Conference's policy on courtroom sharing, which
balances the essential need for judges to have an available courtroom
to fulfill their responsibilities with the economic reality of limited
resources, was incorporated in the initial planning stages for this
project. That policy provides one courtroom for each active district
judge and for each senior judge who maintains a substantial caseload.
For senior judges who do not carry a caseload requiring substantial use
of a courtroom and visiting judges, the policy sets forth a non-
exclusive list of factors for circuit councils to consider when
determining the number of courtrooms needed at a facility.
Description of the Existing and Proposed Housing Situation
The Dillon Courthouse was constructed in the mid-1930's and has
been at full capacity since 1993. The historic facility is unable to
satisfy the current and projected space and technology requirements of
the court. To accommodate the immediate need for space, the District
Court has expanded into former bankruptcy courtrooms, pending
completion of the annex. The Bankruptcy Court has been relocated to
leased space. Other court-related functions, such as the U.S. Trustee
and the U.S. Attorney, are also housed in leased space.
The annex will provide courtrooms and chambers for the District
Court and Magistrate judge functions, the Court of Appeals, and part of
the U.S. Marshals Service. It will also provide much needed grand jury
space, prisoner processing and holding areas. Upon completion of the
project, the Dillon Courthouse will be used for the Bankruptcy Court,
jury assembly, the District clerk, the Probation Office, the U.S.
Marshals Service, the U.S. Trustee's Office and other court-related
functions. The following chart displays the current and proposed
complement of courtrooms and judges for the Buffalo project.
Courtrooms and Courtrooms and Judges
---------------------- Judges Ctrms
Judges Ctrms ---------------------------------------------
Dillion Dillion Annex Total
District.................................... 2 2* 4 0 4 4
Senior...................................... 2 2* 3 1 0 1
Magistrate.................................. 4 3** 4 0 4 4
Bankruptcy.................................. 0 2*** 2 2 0 2
Circuit..................................... 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total..................................... 8 9 14 3 8 11
*Most of the courtrooms in the Dillon Courthouse are significantly undersized and functionally inefficient.
**One of the magistrate judges requires chambers only.
***Bankruptcy court is currently in leased space. The courtrooms vacated by the Bankruptcy Court are too small
and inefficient. These rooms will be converted to office space for use of the District Court.
In addition to addressing the immediate and projected space needs
of the court, completion of the annex will allow the government to
relinquish the leased location resulting in significant savings in
lease payments. The chart below shows the current housing for the court
and court-related activities located in leased facilities in Buffalo.
These functions will be consolidated in the Dillon courthouse complex
avoiding the expenditure of approximately $693,886 annually.
Current Leases Current Occupant Rent
Delaware Avenue.............. Truestee........ $81,894
Olympic Towers............... Bankruptcy...... 611,992
Total Rent.... $693,886
SECURITY AND SPACE ISSUES
The completion of the annex project will resolve significant
security and space problems currently with the Dillon Courthouse.
Security is a major concern for the court in Buffalo. There is no
secure parking area for judges; they must park either on the street or
in an unsecured public parking ramp across the street from the
courthouse. There is no secure circulation in the courthouse; the
public, judges, staff, jurors, and prisoners all use the same corridors
throughout the courthouse. There are no secure elevators for the
movement of judges or prisoners. There is no sallyport for the movement
of prisoners; therefore, the U.S. Marshals must bring prisoners into
the courthouse from the street and escort them through the public lobby
and onto the public elevators for transport to courtrooms located on
five different floors of the Dillon Courthouse. The U.S. Marshals
Service, in a recent survey of prisoner handling facilities nationwide,
gave the Dillon Courthouse a score that is sigruficantly below the
minimally acceptable security and safety standards.
Due to these security problems, judges frequently have been
approached by criminal defendants and their families and friends on the
way to court appearances. These contacts are inappropriate and create a
serious risk to the judges involved. Juror movement within the building
is another concern. Although courtrooms are located on five of the
seven floors, the jury deliberation rooms are all located on the fifth
floor. Jurors, therefore, must use the public elevators when moving
from the courtroom to the jury deliberation rooms. In addition to
creating a risk for mistrial, this situation leaves the jurors
vulnerable to contact by criminal defendants and their associates, the
public and the media. On several occasions, jurors themselves have
expressed concern regarding such exposure. These security threats for
jurors as well as the threat to the integrity of the judicial process
occur almost daily; however, the current housing situation precludes
virtually all mitigating measures.
The current facility also has functional problems that have a
negative effect on court operations. For example, some of the
courtrooms have visual obstructions such as structural columns that
interfere with the jurors' ability to view litigants, attorneys or
physical evidence introduced throughout a trial. Due to the age of the
Dillon Courthouse, much work has been done on a piecemeal basis to
maintain the building systems, including improvements to the heating
and air-conditioning systems, installation of modern aluminum windows,
and other necessary modifications. Also, a significant amount of
asbestos abatement work has been required to ensure the building's
safety. The building does not have the infrastructure necessary to
support the introduction of new technologies; costly building upgrades
would be needed to support the required technologies used by courts
The Buffalo Division serves as the headquarters location for the
Western District of New York. The latest available statistics
demonstrate the significance of the pending civil and criminal caseload
in the Western District of New York and the growth of filings overall.
The District has the 3rd highest rate of civil filings per judgeship of
the entire 2nd Circuit. The District ranks 1st in the Circuit and 26th
nationally with regard to the rate of criminal filings per judgeship.
The pending caseload (both civil and criminal) renders the District 6th
per judgeship out of the 94 district courts nationwide. A significant
portion of the criminal caseload growth may be attributed to the
ongoing drug enforcement initiatives by the U.S. Attorney's Office. In
order to manage this growth, the court routinely assigns almost all
felony and pretrial matters to the Magistrate judges. In addition, the
Magistrate judges are responsible for a significant number of felony
preliminary proceedings, civil pretrial matters and settlement
The following chart illustrates the civil, criminal and bankruptcy
case filings for the Buffalo Division from 1995 to 1999. As shown in
the chart, bankruptcy filings have grown remarkably from 4,292 in 1995
to 7,492 in 1999. This reflects a growth of nearly 74 percent. After
experiencing a slight decrease between 1995 and 1996, civil filings
grew substantially from 955 in 1996 to 1,022 in 1999. The court expects
this steady rise in filings to continue. Total criminal and civil
filings in the district increased 15 percent from 1998 to 1999.
The court's housing situation in Buffalo has become critical due to
security concerns and operational difficulties arising from the split
facilities and the age of the building. In addition, there is no room
within the existing courthouse facility to accommodate the projected
growth of the court. Due to these factors, construction of an annex to
the existing Dillon Courthouse has become essential. Completion of the
annex project will centralize all of the court functions in one
efficiently organized court structure eliminating many of the current
security and space concerns in the Buffalo Division.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT E. COYLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE, EASTERN
DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
I appreciate the opportunity to submit to the Subcommittee the
following statement regarding the need for a new courthouse in Fresno,
California and ask that it be included in the hearing record.
1. STATUS OF CURRENT COURTHOUSE
The present courthouse was originally constructed as an office
building, with the courts occupying two courtrooms and a small amount
of support space. Since that time, the court-related agencies have
expanded to occupy 95 percent of the 137,000 sq. ft. building. The
court-related agencies are literally scattered throughout the building,
with portions of the Clerk's Office located on four separate floors and
the basement. There is no further expansion space for either the court
or the agencies presently located in the building.
The court currently occupies three full-sized courtrooms and five
under-sized courtrooms built from what originally was office space. The
five small courtrooms have low ceilings, obstructing columns,
inadequate sightlines, security and acoustical problems. In the
magistrates' courtrooms, prisoners must be taken down public hallways
to get to two of their three courtrooms.
There are presently two active district judges, two senior judges,
three magistrate judges, two bankruptcy judges and a visiting
magistrate judge from Yosemite who assists us with the caseload in
Fresno every other week. Current caseload statistics show that two
additional judges should be authorized for the District, both destined
for the Fresno Division. The Judicial Conference of the United States
has approved these two judgeships and they are currently before
Congress. However, there is no room for the two additional judges in
our current location nor is there any space for additional magistrate
and bankruptcy judges that are anticipated in the near future. We are
also finding that the growth of the Fresno Division's weighted caseload
is growing far beyond the projections or expectations in our long-range
Listed below are the ten top districts in the United States for
weighted caseload per judge for the calendar year 1999:
1. CA (S) 1,018
2. TX (W) 911
3. NM 764
4. NC (W) 686
5. AZ 655
6. CA (E) 619
7. FL (S) 609
8. TX (S) 603
9. NY (E) 597
10. VA (E) 590
You will note that the Eastern District of California is sixth on
the list at 619. The weighted caseload per judge in the Fresno Division
of the Eastern District of California is 862 and continues to increase
dramatically each year. There is nothing to indicate that the rapid
increase in caseload and filings will abate. During the first 2 months
of the year 2000, we were 151 civil cases and 53 criminal cases ahead
of the filings for the same period of time in 1999.
The physical design of the current building creates security
concerns as well as the inability for expansion. The building does not
meet minimum security requirements as the building was designed
primarily to house office space and not function as a courthouse. The
circulation paths of the public, judges and prisoners are not only in
violation of the Marshal's security procedures and the judiciary's
design requirements, but are also in violation of all the rules of
In order for members of the court to reach their courtrooms each
day, the judges enter and park in their own sallyport, but then must
pass through the prisoner sallyport in order to enter the building at
the basement level. They must then travel the same route used to
transport prisoners, past the maintenance office and storage area, the
maintenance shops, down a long hall and ultimately into what is
commonly called the freight elevator. This elevator is also used by the
prisoners, construction workers, and the GSA maintenance and janitorial
staff and is therefore not available much of the day. This means the
judges often ride with the public and the prisoners must be transported
in the public elevators. When exiting the building, the judges leave
their chambers, pass through the public hallways and the public waiting
area for the courtrooms in order to enter the freight elevator and then
pass through the same circuitous route to reach the basement level
exit. Attached to my statement are pictures of the prisoner sallyport
area, first showing the prisoners going through in shackles and then
our clerk walking through the same area on the way to her car. Also
attached is a picture of prisoners being jammed into the freight
elevator for transport to the fourth floor to the Marshal's main
As a matter of interest, recently Judge Sandra Snyder exited the
prisoner elevator in the basement to go to her car and promptly ran
into a string of shackled prisoners being brought into the building for
court appearances. The Marshals quickly lined the prisoners up against
and facing the wall while she passed through the area. I have
personally found myself, while entering or exiting the elevator and
while in the sallyport, staring into the face of hardened criminals
whom I have either just sentenced or had appeared before me.
The present prisoner population of the Fresno Division of the
Eastern District is 495. Many times there are 30 to 80 prisoners
delivered at a time to the courthouse, depending upon the size of the
bus and the institution from which the prisoners are being transported.
They must be brought into the building in groups and then placed in the
main holding cells. The Marshals have no way of bringing them from the
main holding cells on the fourth floor up to the fifth floor courtrooms
except by going up a narrow, steep stairway from the Marshal's office.
The prisoners are shackled while in the stairwell as if it were, in
essence, a holding cell which creates a danger and a disturbance at the
same time. At times as many as a dozen prisoners will have to be moved
at a time to the temporary holding cells adjacent to the courtrooms.
These holding cells were built to hold only two prisoners. Sometimes
the prisoners intentionally provoke each other or are just noisy,
causing disruption of the proceedings in the courtrooms on either side
of the holding cells. On a law and motion day, there can be over 200
prisoners to be delivered for various motions, trials, etc. Many times
the holding cells are so full that the Marshals have to place prisoners
in the jury box in the courtroom, mixing male and female prisoners, who
are supposed to be separated.
B. Condition of the Building
A seismic evaluation was performed on the building and a
determination was made that the building was seismically unsound and
that retrofit was necessary. It was determined that the cost of seismic
retrofit would result in expenditures greater than the value of the
building and the court would have to be located elsewhere during such
retrofit. In addition, the court spaces are not up to code in fire
safety. On the exterior of the building, the windows are actually
covered by metal grates and therefore not accessible for ingress or
egress in the case of fire or other disaster.
2. THE PROPOSED NEW FRESNO COURT PROJECT
As a result of the need for additional space and adequate security,
GSA conducted a feasibility study which determined the necessity of a
new courthouse and developed a prospectus which has been accepted by
GSA with the approval of the Central Office and OMB. The city of Fresno
demonstrated its strong support for the new courthouse by donating
four-plus acres of land for the site on which the courthouse will be
constructed. The city of Fresno has also agreed to build a 500-car
parking structure for the new courthouse, as well as building a
``people park'' on one square block within walking distance of the new
courthouse. Attached to my statement is an editorial which appeared in
yesterday's Fresno Bee, describing the widespread local support for the
project. An Environmental Impact Study has been completed and accepted.
The architect, Moore Ruble Yudell, has completed Final Concepts which
were presented to the General Services Administration on December 10,
with approval given to proceed with final design and construction
documents. Groundbreaking is anticipated in mid to late Fall of 2000.
3. BUSINESS OF THE COURT
Of the 94 districts, the Eastern District of California, Fresno
Division, stands as follows in those statistics that are important
A. Weighted filings--862 weighted filings per judgeship in the
Fresno Division. This would be the third highest in the United States
and twice the national average.
B. The district-wide filings have increased an average of 18
percent per year, considerably higher in the Fresno Division. The
district is the third fastest growing district in the Ninth Circuit and
the eighth fastest growing district in the United States. Population
statistics show that the San Joaquin Valley is the fastest growing area
in the State with the assumption that one-fifth of California's
population will be located in the Valley in a short period of time.
District Wide ---------------------------
Filings per judge: 717...................... 3 2
Weighted filings: 619*...................... 6 3
Pending per judge: 770...................... 4 1
*Weighted filings per judge for Fresno is 862. Compared to other
districts nationally, the Fresno Division ranks third in weighted
filings per judge.
C. Number of pending cases--4th.
D. Total filings--3rd.
Unfortunately, the Fresno area is known as ``the meth capital of
the world'' because of the many isolated locations in the area
available to those persons who wish to manufacture methamphetamine. The
Eastern District has the eleventh worst crime rate of the 94 districts,
worse even than the Central and Northern Districts of California as set
forth in the FBI Crime Rates by Districts, 1994.
As you can see, there is an urgent need for a new facility for the
Fresno court. I urge the Subcommittee to authorize $112 million for the
construction of the Fresno courthouse. The $112 million will permit GSA
to build the project as planned and designed. Thank you for your
consideration of this important construction project.
STATEMENT OF BERNARD H. BERNE, MD., PH.D.
I am a resident of Arlington, Virginia. I serve the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) as a Medical Officer and as a reviewer medical
device approval applications. I am submitting this statement as a
private individual and not as a representative of FDA or of any other
I ask you to reject a proposal in the Fiscal Year 2001 Capital
Investment Program for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
that would make a total of $544,640,000 available to GSA's Federal
Buildings Fund for an FDA consolidation. GSA proposes to receive these
funds through four appropriations in the Treasury and General
Government Appropriations Act, 2001. GSA would use these funds to award
contracts to design and construct an FDA consolidation at the former
White Oak Naval Surface Warfare Center in suburban Montgomery County,
No legislation authorizes the requested appropriations. GSA has
never transmitted a prospectus to Congress that describes this project.
Your Committee has never approved any such prospectus.
The Capital Investment Program proposes that, of the above total,
$101,239,000 would be made available to GSA in Fiscal Year 2001. The
remainder would become available to GSA in Fiscal Years 2002, 2003, and
2004. The Capital Investment Program does not provide the estimated
maximum cost of this costly and unjustified project.
In 1999, Congress appropriated $35,000,000 to GSA in the Treasury
and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000 (Pub. L. 106-58, Sept.
29, 1999) for an FDA consolidation in Montgomery County, Maryland. GSA
is now illegally using these funds to construct this wasteful and
environmentally unsound project at White Oak.
Pub. L. 106-58 contains a provision that specifically restricts
GSA's use of any of the appropriated funds to the ``development of a
proposed prospectus'' for any construction project that had lacked an
approved prospectus when Pub. L. 106-58 became law. Despite this
provision and the fact that GSA has never even transmitted a prospectus
to Congress, GSA is now using these funds to enter into contracts for
the design and construction of the White Oak facility.
White Oak is a very poor location for the FDA consolidation. Your
Committee should not permit FDA to consolidate at that site.
The following points summarize the reasons to oppose the White Oak
FDA consolidation. They also provide the reasons for your Committee to
give immediate and intensive oversight to GSA's activities relating to
the FDA's consolidation:
Congress has not approved a prospectus for any part of the FDA
consolidation. GSA is using the funds appropriated in Pub. L. 106-58
for construction purposes without ever submitting a prospectus to
GSA's actions are violating a provision in Pub. L. 106-58 that
prohibits the use of these funds for construction purposes in the
absence of an approved prospectus. These actions are illegal and
constitute a misuse of Federal funds.
FDA does not need to consolidate its facilities.
The FDA consolidated facility at White Oak will be a white
elephant that will cost at least $600,000,000. It will be a country
club that will have a golf course adjacent to FDA's offices.
The FDA consolidation is nothing more than a pork barrel
project for Maryland.
Nearly all current FDA buildings are in good condition.
Few are unsatisfactory. GSA often misleads readers by describing these
buildings as being unsatisfactory. It does this by selectively quoting
parts of sentences in various documents without providing the entire
FDA offices that work together are already close to each
other. Few FDA employees need to travel long distances between work
sites. There is now no clear need to expend Federal funds to
Many FDA employees work at home part of the time. Few
travel between work sites. An FDA consolidation will not increase FDA's
ability to approve new drugs and medical devices in a timely manner.
The Government does not save money by building a new
Federal facility rather than by leasing. The Federal Government gains
income tax revenues from owners of leased buildings. It receives
nothing from federally owned buildings.
An FDA consolidation at White Oak is environmentally unsound.
White Oak is outside of the Beltway and is three miles
from the nearest Metrorail station.
Many FDA buildings, including the largest ones, are now
near Metro stations. Metro will lose riders if FDA consolidates at
Public transportation to White Oak is and will be
inadequate. Few FDA workers will take buses to White Oak. For economic
reasons, buses will be infrequent.
Roads and highways near White Oak are already heavily
congested. They don't need more traffic and air pollution. Nearly all
FDA workers would drive to work at White Oak.
Many FDA workers would drive to White Oak on the congested
Capital Beltway during rush hour.
An FDA consolidation at White Oak would replace over 125
acres of open space with a sprawling campus filled with buildings and
large paved parking lots.
An FDA consolidation at White Oak will accelerate urban
sprawl. If FDA consolidates at White Oak, other Federal agencies will
follow. This will eventually fill a 750-acre Federal property.
GSA's White Oak property is heavily forested. An FDA
consolidation at White Oak would begin the destruction of this
woodland, which could otherwise be a national, regional, or local park.
There are a number of federally owned sites near Metro
stations that are available for the FDA consolidation. These include
the Southeast Federal Center and the west campus of St. Elizabeth's
Hospital in D.C. and the Suitland Federal Center in Prince George's
County, Maryland. GSA has refused to evaluate any of these.
GSA is planning to construct some of FDA's buildings at
White Oak on top of a former Navy dump site. This site is contaminated
with PCBs, which cause cancer, and with mercury, which causes birth
defects. Navy contractors have stated that the site is too contaminated
for residential use. There is no assurance that GSA or the Navy can
decontaminate the site sufficiently to protect the health of FDA
An FDA consolidation at White Oak would hurt the District of
The Council of the District of Columbia has approved a
resolution that objects to GSA's selection of the White Oak site and
that asks GSA to work with D.C. officials to identify a suitable site
in D.C., consistent with Federal laws and executive orders.
The White Oak facility is one of two FDA facilities that
would consolidate in Maryland. The two facilities would together remove
over 900 Federal jobs from D.C.
D.C. has lost many Federal jobs in recent years. This
project will accelerate such losses. Further, it will encourage other
Federal agencies to locate outside of D.C.
Many FDA workers now live in D.C. and take Metro to work.
These will leave D.C. if FDA consolidates at White Oak.
GSA violated Federal laws and policies when it selected the White
President Carter's Executive Order 12072, which President
Clinton has reaffirmed in Executive Order 13006, requires Federal
agencies to locate their facilities in cities (with preference to large
central cities) when locating their facilities in urban areas, such as
the Washington Metropolitan Area. Federal courts have found that
Executive Order 12072 has the full force and effect of law. White Oak
is not in or near any city.
GSA refused to evaluate any potential sites in any city.
GSA has refused to consult with District of Columbia
officials regarding the availability of suitable sites within the
District. This violated Executive Order 12072 and the Federal Buildings
Cooperative Use Act, which require such consultation with local city
Washington, D.C. has a number of suitable vacant federally
owned sites, such as the Southeast Federal Center and the campus of St.
Elizabeth's Hospital. Unlike White Oak, these sites are near Metro
stations. GSA has refused to evaluate any of these sites.
GSA informed D.C. officials that the Southeast Federal
Center can not accommodate the FDA consolidation. This is untrue. GSA's
plans for The Southeast Federal Center anticipate the construction of
nearly twice the amount of occupiable space than FDA needs.
GSA incorrectly informed the D.C. officials and the public
that Congress had mandated FDA to consolidate in Montgomery County.
This was a misrepresentation of fact. There is no such mandate.
Federal laws promote development in economically
distressed areas, such as Southeast D.C. However, White Oak is an
affluent residential suburb in one of the richest Counties in the
Nation. White Oak does not need or deserve Federal assistance to help
The Environmental Protection Agency has formally informed
GSA that GSA did not adequately evaluate alternative sites on public
and private lands when it prepared its Environmental Impact Statement
for FDA consolidation. GSA violated the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) when it selected the White Oak site.
GSA did not attempt to acquire properties in D.C. by
donation. The FDA Revitalization Act (Pub. L. 101-635) requires such
attempts, since it is more cost-
effective for the government to acquire properties by donation than by
using existing Federal property.
EXPLANATION OF POINTS
Suburban White Oak is a very poor site for this massive
``consolidated'' Federal administrative and laboratory facility.
Metrorail is three miles away.
White Oak is located a mile outside of the Capital Beltway. Nearby
highways and roads, including the Beltway, are already heavily
An FDA facility at White Oak would increase the Washington
Metropolitan Area's traffic congestion, air pollution and urban sprawl.
Further, the new construction would require Congress to appropriate
additional funds to ``improve'' the highways and roads that serve the
White Oak area.
GSA is planning to construct some FDA's buildings on top of a
contaminated Navy dump site. Toxic wastes on the FDA site include PCBs,
which cause cancer, and mercury, which causes birth defects. GSA and
Navy contractors have found the FDA site to be unfit for residential
The FDA Revitalization Act (P.L. 101-635; 21 U.S.C. 379(b)), (see
Exhibit 1) which amended Chapter VII of Federal Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act by adding a new Section 710 (21 U.S.C. 379(b)), only
authorizes appropriations that the Secretary of Health and Human
Services (HHS) can use to enter into contracts to design, construct,
and operate a consolidated FDA laboratory and administrative facility.
P.L. 101-635 does not authorize any appropriations that GSA can use
to enter into any contracts of any kind. P.L. 101-635 clearly and
specifically restricts the role of GSA in the FDA consolidation to
``consultation'' with the Secretary of HHS.
Specifically, Section 101(d) of P.L. 101-635 authorizes
appropriations only to ``carry out this section''. ``This section''
(Section 710 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) states ``(a)
Authority.--The Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator of
the General Services Administration, shall enter into contracts for the
design, construction, and operation of a consolidated Food and Drug
Administration administrative and laboratory facility.'' ``This
section'' does not authorize GSA to take any actions.
Congress cannot presently appropriate any funds to GSA under the
authorization of appropriations specified in P.L. 101-635.
Further, the FDA Revitalization Act authorizes appropriations for
only one FDA consolidated facility. Despite this, GSA has used funds
appropriated for an ``FDA Consolidation'' to design and construct three
separate FDA administrative and laboratory facilities in Beltsville,
College Park, and White Oak, Maryland.
GSA's actions have contradicted the intent and language of the FDA
Revitalization Act. GSA will not use the proposed appropriation to
consolidate all FDA headquarters facilities in a single location.
Therefore, the FDA Revitalization Act is irrelevant to the proposed
GSA has claimed in reports to Congress that the FDA Revitalization
Act authorizes appropriations to both the Secretary of HHS and to the
Administrator of GSA to design and construct the FDA consolidation.
This self-serving claim is incorrect.
I am not aware of any law that authorizes two separate government
officials (such as the Secretary of HHS and the Administrator of GSA)
to perform the same activities and to receive appropriations for such
identical activities. Any such law could produce duplications of
efforts and the endless shifting of blame for irresponsible actions.
For this reason, when it wrote P.L. 101-635, Congress assured that the
FDA Revitalization Act would only authorize appropriations to HHS and
would not authorize any appropriations to GSA.
According to Section 7(a) of the Public Buildings Act of 1959 (see
Exhibit 2), as amended, Congress can only legally appropriate funds to
GSA to construct any public building whose cost exceeds $1.5 million if
the GSA Administrator transmits a prospectus to Congress and if the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of
Representatives and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of
the Senate (GSA's Senate authorizing committee) both pass resolutions
that approve this prospectus.
On March 7, 2000, GSA submitted a report on the FDA consolidation
to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House
of Representatives in response to a resolution that the House Committee
had approved more than 3 years ago in accordance with Section 11(b) of
the Public Buildings Act of 1959, as amended. GSA's 11(b) report
contains a substantial amount of misinformation. Your own Committee may
have received a copy of this report.
Rule 7(c)(2) of your Committee's Rules of Procedure prohibits your
Committee from considering an 11(b) report as being a prospectus
subject to approval by committee resolution in accordance with section
7(a) of the Public Buildings Act. Your Committee should not therefore
consider GSA's 11(b) report to be a prospectus.
Your Committee needs to assure that Congress does not appropriate
any funds for this or any other GSA construction project until your
Committee approves a prospectus that describes the particular project.
If GSA repeats its past practices, GSA will misuse the funds from any
appropriation for the FDA consolidation that Congress may provide to
GSA without an approved prospectus.
GSA has illegally used $55,000,000 appropriated in the Treasury,
Postal Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 1996 (P.L.
104-52, 109 Stat. 482), to award contracts to construct a so-called FDA
``consolidation'' in College Park, Prince George's County, Maryland.
GSA is further now illegally using $35,000,000 appropriated in the
Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L. 106-58,
113 Stat. 450) (See Exhibit 3) to award contracts to design and
construct another so-called ``FDA consolidation'' at White Oak in
Montgomery County, Maryland.
Provisions in both appropriations acts (P.L. 104-52 and P.L. 106-
58) specifically prohibited GSA from expending any funds appropriated
therein for the design and construction of any project for which a
prospectus, if required by the Public Buildings Act, had not been
approved. The Public Buildings Act requires the approval of a
prospectus because, (1) the FDA ``consolidations'' will cost more than
$1.5 million, and, (2) the FDA Revitalization Act does not authorize
any appropriations that GSA can use to award design or construction
GSA is therefore clearly misusing appropriated funds. Congress has
never enacted any legislation that has authorized GSA to construct the
College Park and White Oak FDA facilities.
President Carter's Executive Order 12072 (see Exhibit 4), requires
all Federal facilities and Federal use of space in urban areas to
``serve to strengthen the Nation's cities and to make them attractive
places to live and work'', and to ``encourage the development and
redevelopment of cities''. When he issued this Order, President Carter
stated that the Order was intended ``to strengthen the backbone of our
major cities and to buildup jobs and further investments there.''
(Public Papers of the Presidents: Jimmy Carter, 1978, Book II, p.
Present Carter promulgated Executive Order 12072 pursuant to the
authority granted to the President in the Federal Property and
Administrative Services Act of 1949 (40 U.S.C. Sec. 486(a)). Federal
courts have found that this Executive Order has the full force and
effect of law.
White Oak is not in or adjacent to any city. An FDA consolidation
at White Oak would draw jobs and investments out of Washington, D.C.
The requested appropriation serves to further weaken this economically
troubled major city. Any appropriation to support an FDA consolidation
at White Oak would violate Executive Order 12072 and 13006.
In Executive Order 13006 (See Exhibit 5), President Clinton
reaffirmed Executive Order 12072 and made it a policy of his
Administration. His own Administration is now proposing this
appropriation in violation of the President's own policies and
Section 12(c) of the Public Buildings Act states: ``The (GSA)
Administrator in carrying out his duties under this Act shall provide
for the construction and acquisition of public buildings equitably
throughout the United States with due regard to the comparative urgency
of the need for each particular building.''
Despite this requirement, GSA is requesting an appropriation to
construct a major Federal facility in affluent Montgomery County,
Maryland. Unlike Maryland in general and Montgomery County in
particular, the District of Columbia is economically depressed.
The National Capital Planning Commission has recommended that
Federal agencies increase the percentage of the National Capital
Region's Federal employees that work in D.C. from 52 percent to 60
percent, to restore the historic percentage of Federal jobs in the
District. It is thus clear that the District of Columbia has a far
greater ``comparative urgency of need'' for the FDA consolidation than
does Montgomery County, Maryland.
Thus, GSA is violating Executive Orders 12072 and 13006, as well as
Section 12(c) of the Public Buildings Act, by proposing this
appropriation. Your Committee should not endorse these violations by
appropriating further funds for this project.
It is important for your Committee to recognize that no law directs
or requires GSA to consolidate FDA in Montgomery County. In 1992,
Congress appropriated funds to begin constructing an FDA consolidation
in Montgomery County, Maryland. However, in 1995, P.L. 104-19 rescinded
all of these construction funds (See Exhibit 6). P.L. 104-19 removed
any Congressional directive or requirement for FDA to consolidate in
The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L.
106-58) appropriated $35 million for an FDA consolidation in Montgomery
County. However, as noted above, P.L. 106-58 contains a provision that
states (113 Stat. 451): ``Provided further, That funds available to the
General Services Administration shall not be available for expenses in
connection with any construction, repair, alteration, or acquisition
project for which a prospectus, if required by the Public Buildings Act
of 1959, as amended, has not been approved, except that necessary funds
may be expended for each project for required expenses in connection
with the development of a proposed prospectus.'' (See Exhibit 3).
No prospectus has ever been approved for this project. Since the
Public Buildings Act requires prospectus approval for all GSA
construction projects costing more than $1.5 million, GSA cannot
legally use the $35 million to construct anything at White Oak.
Therefore, the FDA consolidation can still occur in the District of
Columbia rather than in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Rule 7(a) of your Committee's Rules of Procedure State that no
project or legislation may be approved or otherwise acted upon unless
the committee has received the written comments of the EPA
Administrator, in accordance with section 309 of the Clean Air Act. You
may therefore wish to consider the following EPA letter as representing
the most recent comment from the EPA Administrator on this matter.
In a letter dated January 5, 1999, Mr. William Hoffman, NEPA/404
Program Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region
III, informed GSA that GSA's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for
the White Oak project did not comply with the regulations of the
Council on Environmental Quality (See Exhibit 7). The EPA letter states
that GSA had not adequately compared an FDA consolidation at White Oak
with a consolidation at alternative locations on public and private
The letter formally encouraged GSA to perform the required
comparison in a future proposed EIS. However, GSA has not prepared any
new EIS since receiving the EPA letter.
The federally owned Southeast Federal Center and St. Elizabeth
Hospital sites in D.C., can accommodate the FDA consolidation. The
federally owned Suitland Metro Station in Prince George's County,
Maryland, may also be able to accommodate FDA. All of these sites are
near Metro stations.
Your Committee needs to assure that Congress does not appropriate
any funds for the FDA consolidation until GSA evaluates these
alternatives and until both the House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
approve a prospectus for the project and certify the project's need.
On December 15, 1998, the Council of the District of Columbia
approved a resolution (See Exhibit 8) that asked The President, GSA and
Congress to give preference to D.C. sites, consistent with Executive
Orders 12072 and 13006. The Council found that the FDA consolidations
would remove 800 FDA employees from the District.
The President and GSA disregarded the D.C. Council's request. GSA
has refused to consult with D.C. officials (as required by Executive
Order 12072) regarding this project.
FDA does not need to consolidate at White Oak. The Capital
Investment Program violates laws, Executive Orders, and EPA
LIST OF EXHIBITS
1. The Food And Drug Administration Revitalization Act (P.L. 101-
635, Nov. 28, 1990): The authorizing legislation for that authorized
the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enter into contracts to
design, construct and operate a single consolidated FDA administrative
and laboratory facility. The GSA Administrator was only authorized to
consult with the Secretary of HHS.
2. Public Buildings Act of 1959 (P.L. 85-249, Sept. 9, 1959): The
Public Buildings Act requires the GSA Administrator to transmit a
prospectus for large building projects to Congress. Sec. 7 states that
approval of the prospectus is required ``in order to insure the
equitable distribution of public buildings throughout the United States
with due regard for the comparative urgency of need for such
3. Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L.
106-58, Sept. 29, 1999): The Fiscal Year 2000 Act that appropriated
$35,000,000 to GSA's Federal Buildings Fund for an FDA consolidation in
Montgomery County, Maryland. A provision in the Act restricts
expenditures of these funds to the development of a proposed prospectus
for the project in accordance with Public Buildings Act of 1959.
4. Executive Order 12072: Federal Space Management (President Jimmy
Carter, Aug. 16, 1978; 43 F.R. 36869; 40 U.S.C. Sec. 490; 3 CFR, 1979
Comp., p. 213): Executive Order stating that the process for meeting
Federal space needs in urban areas shall serve to strengthen the
Nation's cities, shall give first consideration to a centralized
community business area and adjacent areas of similar character, and
that the heads of Executive agencies shall economize on their use of
5. Executive Order 13006: Locating Federal Facilities on Historic
Properties in Our Nation's Cities (President William J. Clinton, May
21, 1996; Federal Register, Vol. 61, No. 102, May 24, 1996, pp. 26071-
26072): Executive Order reaffirming the Administration's commitment to
Executive Order 120072 and encouraging the location of Federal
facilities in historic buildings in central cities.
6. P.L. 104-19 (Rescissions Act, 1995). The 1995 Act that rescinded
$228,000,000 of the funds previously appropriated for the Montgomery
County, Maryland, FDA consolidation. The Act rescinded all construction
funds for the facility.
7. Letter from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Mr. Jag
Bhargava, General Services Administration, January 5, 1999. Letter
informs GSA.--Letter from EPA that formally encourages GSA to compare
alternative sites on public as well as non-public lands in the proposed
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the FDA Consolidation. The
letter states that EPA had already informed GSA that a previous FDA
consolidation EIS had not adequately compared the White Oak alternative
to alternatives on non-public lands, thus making a comparison of
environmental impacts difficult with anything other than the no action
8. Council of the District of Columbia, Resolution No. R12-834,
(Location of Federal Facilities in the District of Columbia Sense of
the Council Resolution of 1998; December 15, 1998. D.C. Council
Resolution that requests the President, the Vice-President, the GSA
Administrator, the GSA Regional Administrator, the FDA Commissioner,
the OMB Director, the heads of all other Federal executive agencies,
other Federal officials, and Members of Congress, to identify and give
preference to District of Columbia sites when meeting Federal space
needs in the Washington Metropolitan Area, consistent with Executive
Orders 12072 and 13006.
Exhibit No. 1.--The Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act
104 Stat. 4583-4585 (21 U.S.C. 379b)
November 28, 1990
An authorizing statute for the FDA consolidation. P.L. 101-635
authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enter into
contracts to design, construct and operate a single consolidated FDA
administrative and laboratory facility. P.L. 101-635 authorizes the
Administrator of General Services to consult with the Secretary of HHS,
but does not authorize the GSA Administrator to enter into any
contracts for the facility.
P.L. 101-635 authorizes appropriations ``to carry out this
section''. The Secretary of HHS can thus expend any funds appropriated
pursuant to this law to enter into contracts for the consolidated
facility. The GSA Administrator does not have this authority. P.L. 101-
635 does not authorize any appropriations to GSA.
Other statutes, including the Public Buildings Act of 1959,
authorize the Administrator of General Services to enter into contracts
to acquire property for and to construct Federal facilities, in
accordance with provisions (such as prospectus submission requirements)
that such legislation contains. It is important to recognize, however,
that P.L. 101-635 does not provide the GSA Administrator with any such
P.L. 101-635 authorizes only one consolidated FDA administrative
and laboratory facility. GSA is currently planning to ``consolidate''
FDA's facilities in three separate locations (Beltsville, College Park,
and White Oak, Maryland). P.L. 101-635 does not authorize this type of
P.L. 101-635 does not specify any location or political
jurisdiction for the consolidated facility.
Exhibit No. 2.--Public Buildings Act of 1959
September 9, 1959
The Public Buildings Act authorizes the GSA Administrator to
construct public buildings in accordance with the provisions of the
Act. Sec. 7(a) requires the Administrator to transmit a prospectus for
any large building project to Congress. Sec. 7(a) states that approval
of the prospectus is required ``in order to insure the equitable
distribution of public buildings throughout the United States with due
regard for the comparative urgency of need for such buildings.''
Sec. 12(c) requires the Administrator to ``provide for the
construction and acquisition of public buildings equitably throughout
the United States with due regard to the comparative urgency of need
for each particular building''.
Note: In recent years, GSA has transferred thousands of Federal
employees from the District of Columbia to Virginia and Maryland. GSA
has accomplished this by constructing and leasing buildings for a
number of Federal agencies in suburban areas that are outside of the
District, without constructing and leasing a comparable number of
buildings within the District.
The District's current financial status is currently less favorable
than the statuses of suburban Maryland and Virginia. There is thus a
greater comparative urgency of need for public buildings in the
District than in its Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Despite the requirement in Sec. 12(c), GSA has not relocated many
Federal agencies from Maryland and Virginia into the District. It is
continuing to delineate areas for Federal leasing and construction in
the National Capital Region to exclude the properties located within
As an example, GSA is planning to construct new facilities for FDA
in College Park and White Oak, Maryland. This would move approximately
900 Federal employees from the District. It would further increase the
inequitable distribution of Federal facilities that is present in the
National Capital Region.
The National Capital Planning Commission currently defines an
``equitable distribution'' as distributing 60 percent of the Region's
Federal employees within the District of Columbia and 40 percent in
Virginia and Maryland. The District presently contains only 52 percent
of such employees.
Exhibit No. 3.--Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act,
P.L. 106-58 (113 Stat. 430)
September 29, 1999
The Fiscal Year 2000 Act that appropriated $35,000,000 to GSA's
Federal Buildings Fund for an FDA consolidation in Montgomery County,
Maryland. A provision in the Act restricts expenditures of these funds
to the development of a proposed prospectus for the project in
accordance with Public Buildings Act of 1959.
Note: GSA has allocated these funds for the design and construction
of FDA's proposed White Oak facility. However, the $35,000,000
appropriated in P.L. 106-58 can only be used for the ``development of a
proposed prospectus'' because no prospectus for the project had been
approved prior to September 29, 1999, when P.L. 106-58 became law.
A provision in the P.L. 106-58 states that the funds available to
GSA shall not be available for expenses in connection with any
construction or acquisition project for which a prospectus, if required
by the Public Buildings Act, has not been approved, except that
necessary funds may be expended for required expenses in connection
with the development of a proposed prospectus. GSA therefore cannot use
these funds to award contracts to develop construction plans or to
construct any buildings at White Oak or anywhere else.
Any Congressional committee approval of a prospectus for the White
Oak facility after September 29, 1999, can only allow future
appropriations acts to make new funds available to GSA to construct the
facility. Because of the language in the restrictive provision,
Congressional committee approval of a project prospectus after
September 29, 1999, cannot give GSA the authority to use the funds
appropriated in P.L. 106-58 for expenses related to construction and
The National Capital Planning Commission currently defines an
``equitable distribution'' as distributing 60 percent of the Region's
Federal employees within the District of Columbia and 40 percent in
Virginia and Maryland. The District presently contains only 52 percent
of such employees.
Exhibit No. 4.--Executive Order 12072: Federal Space Management
President Jimmy Carter, Aug. 16, 1978
43 F.R. 36869; 40 U.S.C. Sec. 490; 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p. 213
Executive Order stating that the process for meeting Federal space
needs in urban areas shall serve to strengthen the Nation's cities,
shall give first consideration to a centralized community business area
and adjacent areas of similar character, and that the heads of
Executive agencies shall economize on their use of space.
Exhibit No. 5.--Executive Order 13006: Locating Federal Facilities on
Historic Properties in Our Nation's Cities
President William J. Clinton, May 21, 1996
Federal Register Vol. 61, No. 102, May 24, 1996, pp. 26071-72
Executive Order reaffirming the Administration's commitment to
Executive Order 12072, defining the improvement of ``central cities''
as the purpose of Executive Order 12072, and encouraging the location
of Federal facilities in historic buildings in central cities.
Exhibit No. 6.--Rescissions Act, 1995
P.L. 104-19 (109 Stat. 194)
July 27, 1995
1995 Act that rescinded $228,000,000 of the funds previously
appropriated for the Montgomery County, Maryland, FDA consolidation.
The rescission removed all construction funds for any FDA consolidation
in Montgomery County.
Exhibit No. 7.--Letter From U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
To Mr. Jag Bhargava, General Services Administration--National
January 5, 1999.--Letter from EPA that formally encourages GSA to
compare alternative sites on public as well as non-public lands in the
proposed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the FDA
Consolidation. GSA has not responded to this letter.
The letter states that EPA had already informed GSA that a previous
FDA consolidation EIS had not adequately compared the White Oak
alternative to alternatives on non-public lands, thus making a
comparison of environmental impacts difficult with anything other than
the no action alternative.
The letter states that a comparative analysis is the heart of an
EIS and that the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations
require that the details of each alternative be presented in a
comparative form. The letter cites CEQ's regulations in
Sec. 1502.14(a), which states that agencies shall ``Rigorously explore
and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives, and for
alternatives which were eliminated from detailed study, briefly discuss
the reasons for their having been eliminated''.
Exhibit No. 8.--Council of the District of Columbia
Resolution No. R12-834
Location of Federal Facilities in the District of Columbia Sense of the
Council Resolution of 1998
December 15, 1998
D.C. Council resolution that requests the Mayor, the Financial
Recovery and Management Assistance Authority, the District's Delegate
to Congress, and the National Capital Planning Commission to take all
appropriate actions to assure that the GSA Administrator and the heads
of all other Federal executive agencies will comply with Executive
Orders 12072 and 13006 and give preference to locations within the
District when meeting their needs to house their facilities and to
utilize leased and federally owned space in the Washington Metropolitan
The resolution also requests the D.C. Corporation Counsel to
investigate immediately any enforceable actions and recognize any
causes for action that may be necessary to direct the GSA
Administrator, the HHS Secretary, and the FDA Commissioner to consult
with appropriate local officials to identify a site within the District
of Columbia that is suitable for the proposed FDA consolidated
headquarters facility and to prevent the relocation from the District
of any Federal employees associated with the FDA.
The resolution further requests the President, the Vice-President,
the GSA Administrator, the GSA Regional Administrator, the HHS
Secretary, the FDA Commissioner, the OMB Director, the heads of all
other Federal executive agencies, other Federal officials, and Members
of Congress, to identify and give preference to District of Columbia
sites when meeting Federal space needs in the Washington Metropolitan
Area, consistent with Executive Orders 12072 and 13006.