House Republicans championing a smaller footprint for federal buildings have declared victory in a lease renewal agreement for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s suburban Maryland offices that both fulfills a long-term government commitment and reduces NRC’s workspace.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Dec. 4 approved a new lease prepared by the NRC and General Services Administration that the committee says will save the government $150 million. The approval came months after the panel’s economic development subcommittee held a hearing blasting the NRC for having committed -- on the assumption of a staff expansion -- to a $350 million new building called White Flint 3, signing an additional lease nearby and then abandoning the new facility.
After the committee rejected the plan for going over what the committee saw as NRC’s allotted $38 million, GSA and the NRC “signed a five-year interim lease at Two White Flint North in Bethesda, Md.,” according to GSA spokesman Dan Cruz. “This interim lease will house NRC while GSA conducts a full and open and competition for office space that will meet the NRC’s long-term housing needs in this region. Additionally, components of the Food and Drug Administration with near-term lease expirations will move into Three White Flint North as NRC consolidates its overall footprint in this region.”
Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., chairman of the Economic Development subcommittee, praised the development. “We’re saving taxpayers $200 million dollars on the NRC deal and the others we’re agreeing to -- on top of the $500 million we’ve already saved in this committee by making smarter use of federal properties,” he said. “I commend the agencies involved for working with members of this committee from both parties to get a better deal for taxpayers.”
Added committee chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., “Americans across the country continue to face an economy that requires them to tighten their belts and make the best use of limited financial resources. Federal agencies must do the same -- in fact they need to set the example.”
The proposal authorized by the committee renews the White Flint 2 lease, under the condition the FDA “backfills about 60 percent of the new White Flint 3,” the committee said. “This will consolidate FDA employees from four locations with expiring leases, and improves the agency’s utilization rate to 170 square feet/person.”
GSA said the expiring FDA leases will be identified in the near future, noting that FDA’s White Oak campus is unaffected.