IRS headquarters to remain shut for months

The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that repairs to its Washington headquarters, damaged by flooding late last month, may not be complete until January.

Some of the 2,400 employees who work in the building, located at 1111 Constitution Ave. N.W. in downtown Washington, may be able to return in the fall. But the preliminary findings of a damage review by the General Services Administration indicate fixes to the building's infrastructure will take until the end of the year, the IRS said.

"I appreciate the efforts of all our employees during this period and ask them to bear with us as we bring them back online and restore the building to a safe and usable condition," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said.

Heavy rains in the Washington area during the last week of June submerged the headquarters sub-basement under more than 20 feet of water, damaging electrical equipment and air conditioning and heating systems. The basement was flooded with five feet of water, harming a fitness center, food service facilities, offices, furniture, computer equipment and vehicles in the building's garage. Restoration is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, though estimates are not yet complete.

Cleaning and decontamination was finished last week, the IRS announced. But rebuilding cannot begin for about a month, until the infrastructure is thoroughly dry. A timeline for when employees can start returning will be available in August.

Meanwhile, the agency has implemented a plan to continue its work despite the disruption. Displaced headquarters employees have been reporting to 12 alternate IRS buildings in the Washington area and other temporary office space, and some are telecommuting. GSA has offered free use of its regional telework centers to affected employees.

The IRS also is looking ahead at ways to prevent similar damage from occurring in future storms and expects to release findings next month.

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