Today Congressman Bob Goodlatte called on the Inspector General of the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Comptroller General of the United States, who is the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to investigate the $50.9 million planned renovation of the Richard H. Poff Federal Building in Roanoke. Funds for the renovation were designated from appropriations made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "the stimulus bill," which was enacted in February 2009.
Congressman Goodlatte sent letters to GSA and GAO requesting the investigations into the wasteful renovation of the Poff Federal Building after being informed by GSA that they "have awarded a $39.9 million contract for Construction Phase Services". This contract, which was not awarded to a local business, comes without full disclosure of the supposed benefits of the planned renovation or the projected costs.
Three weeks ago Congressman Goodlatte wrote to GSA strongly urging that the Poff Federal Building renovation be halted in order to avoid taxpayer funds from being wasted and suggesting that more cost-effective alternatives be pursued. To date GSA has failed to answer any of the questions Congressman Goodlatte detailed in his letter. The only response from GSA has been to local media inquiries regarding Congressman Goodlatte's letter. GSA's response to these media reports was wholly insufficient and certainly did not address any of the points Congressman Goodlatte raised in his letter. This inadequate response only adds to Congressman Goodlatte's strong concerns for the handling of this project.
"Recently I called for the Poff Federal Building project to be halted due to what I believe to be a tremendous waste of taxpayer funds," said Congressman Goodlatte. "My reasons for calling for the project to be suspended are multifaceted -- lack of thorough proof of a cost-benefit analysis, the significant disruption to the processing of veterans' claims and benefits which will result from haphazardly moving the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Roanoke Regional Office out of the Poff Building to four different locations during the renovations, plans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the building's largest tenant) to relocate offices after the renovation is complete, and failure to include security improvements to the building in the project's plans. While Poff Federal Building tenants move out and construction nears, it is reprehensible for GSA to essentially dismiss these issues."
Not only will this be difficult for the employees of the VA Roanoke Regional Office but it will cause an increase in already lengthy delays in processing veterans' claims and place an unnecessary burden on our area veterans when they are seeking assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since the announcement, over a year 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.
Congressman Goodlatte continued, "The GSA's handling of this project is irresponsible. The seeming lack of transparency surrounding the planned renovation of the Poff Federal Building does not lead me to have any confidence whatsoever that it is proceeding in a manner that will be beneficial to the taxpayers, the federal government, or the Poff Building tenants."