A review of investigations into whether any wrongdoing occurred during the long-delayed renovation of the Union Station/National Visitor Center was ordered yesterday as a condition of congressional action on legislation that would authorize another $39 million to complete the project.
Rep. Elliott H. Levitas (D-Ga.) said he wants another look taken at investigations conducted by the General Accounting Office and the Department of Interior. This, he said, is because of "recurring rumors from several sources" of alleged corruption during the 10-year-long conversion of the old train station to a multiple-use facility for visitors, train and subway depot and parking garage. Levitas did not offer any further details.
Work was halted three years ago because of mounting costs overruns after $44 million already had been spent.
Levitas, chairman of the House Public Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee, said "a lot of questions" had been raised about the project, and he hoped a new inquiry would determine "whether there had been wrongdoing, fraud or waste."
Robert L. Herbst, assistant secretary of the Interior for fish, wildlife and parks, told Levitas at a hearing yesterday on the new legislation that the earlier studies resulted in "no finding of fraud, but mismanagement, apparently."
Levitas asked Herbst to see that the review be conducted by Interior's new inspector general, June G. Brown. Levitas said he had "a couple of specifics" he wanted checked.
Levitas said the new legislation, which was approved by his subcommittee yesterday, would go forward, "whether or not there was a finding" of wrongdoing during the previous work at the complex.
But Levitas said he would not allow the full committee to consider the legislation today, as scheduled, unless he got assurance that Brown had been instructed to review the investigations.
Robert H. Mendelsohn, assistant to Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus, said last night that Brown would begin the review immiediately.
The new legislation is the result of a compromise between the Carter administration, which wanted the emphasis of the complex to be on transportation, operated by the Department of Transportation, and the House Public Works Committe, and its chairman, Rep. Harold T. (Bizz) Johnson (D-Calif.), which wanted the facility to emphasize a visitor center, under the control of Interior.
Interior Secretary Andrus and DOT Secretary Brock Adams agreed to joint operation of the building in exchange for returning the train depot to the concourse or rear half of the main building. For their part, Johnson and his colleagues agreed to allow DOT to operate the train part of the complex.