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2WTK: Costly Courthouses And Wasted Space

6:54 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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Washington, D.C.  - The General Services Administration is getting the blame for overbuilding 32 federal courthouses across the country adding $835 million in unnecessary construction costs - and millions in other costs every month.

One of the federal courthouses audited for overbuilding, Bryant Annex, is located caddy-corner from the U.S. Capitol.

Auditors are upset the government is making more courthouse space than the entire U.S. judiciary is able to use.

"It's not just the cost of construction," said Washington Guardian reporter Phillip Swarts. "There is an additional $51 million each year in maintenance cost being wasted because you have to maintain those extra large rooms."

The Washington Guardian reports that the GSA overbuilt to the tune of $3.5 million unneeded square footage.

Click here to See Swart's Washington Guardian report.

Besides the Bryant Annex, the Government Accountability Office report issued to Congress focused on six other of the 33, including the following: Eagleton Courthouse, St. Louis, Mo., Limbaugh, Sr. Courthouse, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Coyle Courthouse, Fresno, Calif, D'Amato Courthouse, Central Islip, N.Y., DeConcini Courthouse, Tuscson, Ariz., and Ferguson Courthouse, Miami, Fla.

Officials released the report to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Click here to see the GAO report.

The GAO and U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) blame the GSA.

The report identifies unused space, atriums improperly measured and authorized, and unfinished courtrooms at the same time the historic Dyer Courthouse in Miami sits abandoned since 2008.

"For nearly six years, GSA has let this historic building deteriorate and ensure taxpayers are shortchanged while the country falls into financial ruin," Mica said in an e-mail to the Washington Guardian. "This waste and unacceptable inaction."

In Missouri, the Eagleton Federal Courthouse has 398,000 square feet of extra space which the report reveals cost you nearly $9 million in extra tax dollars.

The GAO recommended new controls reporting GSA overestimated the number of judges, and didn't have consistent measurement standards.

GSA did not respond to Washington Guardian's request for comment.

"GSA cited serious concerns with our methodology for determining the costs associated with the extra space," the GAO report to Congress stated. "GSA and the judiciary agreed to implement these recommendations."

The GAO report indicates if GSA was able to reallocate all that wasted space, the government could have built nine additional court houses at no cost.

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