Congressman Bob Goodlatte sent a follow-up letter to Brian Miller, the Inspector General of the General Services Administration (GSA). Congressman Goodlatte had previously written to Mr. Miller asking for an investigation into the $50.9 million planned renovation of the Richard H. Poff Federal Building in Roanoke. Recently the Inspector General responded to this request with an insufficient review of the Poff renovation project which simply leaves the same unanswered questions.
"While I appreciate the response from GSA, I still believe that GSA's review amounts to nothing more than a cursory examination of the mounting evidence that the Poff Federal Building project remains a boondoggle," said Congressman Goodlatte. "As more information is brought to light, I continue to hear from constituents who share my concerns and cannot conceive how the project remains on track."
In his most recent letter to GSA, Congressman Goodlatte detailed his concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the planned renovation of the Poff Federal Building. Congressman Goodlatte remains concerned that a well-developed cost-benefit analysis of the Poff Building renovation project was never performed. The analysis done after the stimulus funding was announced does not assess the qualitative difference between a renovated building and a new structure that could meet the needs of the building's tenants. Nor does it address the alternative of performing only necessary maintenance on the building, saving the taxpayers more than $51 million until such time when a proper plan can be formulated and funded.
There does not appear to have been a clear determination of the needs of the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO) prior to the decision to proceed with the renovation of the Poff Building. There was also no examination of the need to temporarily move the VA offices while the renovation project takes place, resulting in the agency being split among a number of locations in Roanoke while files remain in the Poff Building. This poses what could be a logistical nightmare for veterans' service representatives and veterans themselves.
The added cost of this three year relocation is $10-15 million and is not included in the original $51 million price tag.
Additionally, there has not been an analysis of whether the federal government will reap more than $51 million worth of benefits from the project or whether the project could have been done in a less expensive manner.
Finally, there did not appear to be significant plans to examine the security needs of the Poff Federal Building before, during or after the renovation, all at an additional cost to the taxpayers.
"I remain thoroughly unconvinced that the Poff Federal Building project was properly conceived from the beginning," said Congressman Goodlatte. "The GSA has failed to prove to me and the taxpayers that this project has been well thought-out. While contracts continue to be announced for each facet of the project, I firmly believe that the GSA should order a halt to the project to allow for a more thorough review of the need for the project and the level of expense that will be incurred."
Since the announcement over a year-and-a-half ago that the Poff Building would undergo $50.9 million worth of renovations, Congressman Goodlatte has received numerous inquiries from constituents concerned about the excessive price tag for the project, the cost effectiveness of this project relative to alternative construction, and the inability of local businesses to bid on the initial stages of the project. Since that time Congressman Goodlatte has aggressively sought answers from the GSA regarding the cost and scope of this wasteful and misguided project.