WASHINGTON, D.C. - The General Services Administration is getting the blame for overbuilding federal courthouses across the country, adding $835 million in unnecessary construction costs and millions in monthly maintenance costs.
One of the federal courthouses audited for overbuilding, Bryant Annex, is located caddy-corner from the U.S. Capitol. It's not the building's Indiana limestone and granite and bluestone insets that have auditors upset.
Their concern is the federal government built 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 federal courthouses by 3.5 million square feet.
That's based on an analysis of a Government Accountability Office report submitted in March to the Republican chairman of a congressional oversight subcommittee. The GAO report said between 2000 and 2010, the federal government built 33 U.S. courthouses.
Twenty-seven of those courthouses exceeded the size authorized by Congress. The Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse, built in Denver in 2002, was one of six federal courthouses that did not exceed its authorized size.
Read the GAO report about costly courthouses here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652897.pdf In a response to this story, the GSA issued a statement. "All of the courthouses identified in the report were completed prior to the Obama Administration and its efforts to further improve utilization of buildings, dispose of unneeded assets, and freeze the federal footprint," said a GSA spokesman.
"GSA continues to work with the Judiciary and Executive branch agencies to improve the utilization of space within our federal courthouses and work to address the issues raised by GAO."