GAO: Long-term Viability of DHS Consolidation in Question

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have not updated or revised a plan to ensure that the $4.7 billion DHS consolidation project at St. Elizabeths makes operational and fiscal sense, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes. The St. Elizabeths campus is the location in Southeastern DC where DHS has planned to construct a consolidated headquarters.  It currently houses the U.S. Coast Guard.

Identifying the challenge of funding realities and changing workplace standards, the GAO report raises questions about the long-term viability of the project. Pending the development of reliable cost and schedule estimates, the project risks further potential cost overruns, missed deadlines, and performance shortfalls.

“Taxpayers have invested more than $1.5 billion in the DHS headquarters consolidation project at St. Elizabeths. It is disappointing that we don’t yet have a detailed and viable plan for the consolidation. DHS needs to present us with a realistic plan for consolidating its operations while also saving tax dollars by closing some of its leased facilities across the region,” said Dr. Tom Coburn, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The report raises questions about the long-term viability of the project, and GAO recommends that Congress consider making future funding for the project contingent upon DHS and GSA developing a clear plan and schedule for its completion. 

“I strongly support GAO’s recommendations,” commented Dr. Coburn. “Any new funding for the headquarters consolidation should be halted until DHS develops a revised plan for the further development and occupation of the campus.