Tangherlini: DHS project at St. Elizabeths needs new approach

General Services Administration Administrator Dan Tangherlini is planning a consolidation for the FBI headquarters, but he also inherited a big move that he says may now need reworking: the Department of Homeland Security consolidation at St. Elizabeths hospital.

The plan for DHS — drawn up before the financial collapse — calls for 4.5 million square feet at a price tag of $3.4 billion. But with budget cuts, the Coast Guard’s building is the only one nearly done, with completion expected in August of 2013.

“I think right now if we’re going to try to go about it the way we’ve traditionally gone about it, it’s going to take a long time,” Tangherlini said. “So I think St. Elizabeths is one of those projects that we really have to start thinking about new ways to approach, because I think that the idea behind St. Elizabeths is still a great one.”

Given the constrained financial picture, Tangherlini said the government needed to make sure that it fully used the investments it has already in the project without committing to spend money it doesn’t have. “We have to figure out a path forward that solves that,” he said.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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