The battle between the International Trade Commission and the General Services Administration took a new turn yesterday when ITC's chairman called "totally unacceptable" GSA plans to move his agency a block from its dilapidated but historic building.
"The ITC has had unfortunate experiences" with the Bicentennial Building, which the GSA has chosen for ITC's new offices, Chairman Alfred E. Eckes Jr. said in a prepared statement that indicated he plans to bring the heavy guns of the House and Senate to bear on the GSA.
"We are eager to work with GSA and our congressional oversight committees to find a mutually acceptable solution," Eckes said. Members of the Senate Finance Committee have indicated support for Eckes' position and are scheduled to meet at the ITC building in April.
When Eckes first complained to Congress about the sad state of the ITC building at 701 E St. NW, GSA responded by closing the commission's parking lot. The day an article about the ITC's problems with leaky roofs and large rats appeared in The Washington Post, GSA responded again--with an announcement that it plans to move the commission to 600 E St., where it has some computer facilities. ITC officials said they have not received official word of the GSA's relocation strategy.
GSA plans to sell the ITC's present headquarters, built on the site where Congress met after the Capitol was burned by the British during the War of 1812, to the Smithsonian Institution.
GSA Director Gerald Carmen, however, wrote Eckes last month that "transferring the building to the Smithsonian would occur only if the GSA could relocate the ITC to a mutually acceptable location already in our space inventory."
Furthermore, ITC officials said the only sites they have been offered officially have been in Germantown and Hyattsville--both of which are outside the Beltway and unacceptable to Eckes, who said the commission must remain downtown, near Congress, the White House and the trade bar that practices before it.