The controversial but ongoing effort to consolidate Homeland Security Department headquarters staff on the campus of St. Elizabeths got a boost in the $1.1 trillion fiscal 2016 spending bill enacted last week.
The new law allocates $10.2 billion for the General Services Administration’s Federal Buildings Fund, which means “fully funding” the St. Elizabeths project. Faced with criticism from some in Congress for cost overruns, GSA recently simplified the design plan and dispensed with some planned amenities.
GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth said, “The agreement gives us the opportunity to build on the progress we have made in recent years.” She added that the money will allow her agency to “make investments in our nation’s infrastructure and harness our ability to serve as an economic catalyst for growth in local communities.”
The omnibus package also funds new land ports of entry border protection projects in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. and Columbus, N.M., and it funds courthouse improvements.
Continuing appropriations of $240 million for GSA include $58 million for efficiency projects at the agency’s Office of Governmentwide Policy and $56 million for technology projects at the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies and the 18F interagency digital team.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also welcomed the St. Elizabeths funding, saying it will help the Homeland Security Department “build a sense of cohesion across its many offices, build employee morale and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.”