Federal Courthouse Construction

More Disciplined Approach Would Reduce Costs and Provide for Better Decisionmaking Gao ID: T-GGD-96-19 November 8, 1995

The General Services Administration (GSA), in response to the growing space needs of the federal judiciary, has begun a major courthouse construction initiative that could cost $10 billion during the next 10 to 15 years. Concerns have been raised in Congress about the huge sums of money involved and that new courthouses may not be needed or are too expensive. This testimony focuses on three areas: (1) the approach for meeting federal courthouse needs, (2) the controls and oversight over courthouse construction design and costs, and (3) the current efforts to improve this multibillion-dollar initiative. GAO found that GSA and the federal judiciary had wide latitude in making choices that significantly affect costs. These choices were made under circumstances in which budgets or designs were often committed to before requirements were established, design guidance was flexible, and systemic oversight was limited. Some courthouses have ended up with more expensive materials or costly design configurations, while others had, or are to have, more economical features. These differences had a major impact on the cost for courthouse construction.


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