Fed buildings to get much-needed upgrades thanks to budget boost

Tuesday - 1/21/2014, 1:00pm EST

The General Services Administration says it will finally be able to begin digging out of a backlog of deferred maintenance of federal buildings thanks to a boost in funding from the recently passed bipartisan spending bill.

The spending bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week, authorizes GSA to spend about $9.3 billion from the Federal Buildings Fund.

The fund is made up of rent payments other agencies pay to GSA for the use of federal facilities, but Congress authorizes the amount GSA is permitted to draw upon in its annual budget. All told, the spending bill provides a total GSA budget of $9.6 billion. That's less than the $9.9 billion proposed by the agency in its 2014 budget request, but $1.3 billion more than what Congress appropriated last year, according to a House summary of the bill.

Because of declining budgets over the past few years, the agency has had to forego major repairs and maintenance across its more than 9,000-building inventory of federally owned properties. The spending bill sets aside $1 billion for repairs and maintenance, according to a Jan. 21 GSA release.

GSA's efforts to help agencies consolidate space in existing federal buildings also got a boost. The bill provides $70 million to GSA's space-consolidation program, which aims to reduce the amount of space leased to agencies by the private sector.

The bill also includes additional funding for several new construction projects, including $155 million for the the Homeland Security Department's headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths in Southwest Washington, D.C. and $295 million to complete border crossing stations in San Ysidro, Calif.; Laredo, Texas; and a few other locations.

"By investing in our public buildings, a smaller federal footprint and improved border crossing stations, GSA will not only create savings for the American people, but also assist in providing them with the most efficient and effective government possible," said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini in a statement "These infrastructure projects will ensure that federal agencies can support economic and job growth in communities across this country."

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