After Congress drove the General Services Administration's new- construction account down to just $50 million in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the agency's building program is rebounding.
GSA construction appropriations leaped to $506 million this year. President Obama's 2015 budget plan would boost that program 47%, to $745 million, and hike GSA's renovations account 13%, to about $1.3 billion. On March 4, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini told reporters, "There are still vital investments that need to be made."
But 2015's total non-defense discretionary cap is barely above 2014's, and competition for those dollars will be fierce. That may mean Congress won't give GSA all it is seeking.
That happened this year, as appropriators sliced GSA construction funds 38% below the agency's proposal. Lawmakers cut more than $100 million from requests for a San Diego border station and a Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters complex in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Goldberg, American Institute of Architects managing director of government relations, says there's a push to have GSA trim its real estate holdings. But he adds, "Clearly, nobody can dispute the fact that there is a great backlog of work that needs to be done on federal buildings. And one thing we have continually said to policymakers ... is that the longer you delay, the more expensive it gets."