GSA regains stature under Tangherlini, who looks to trim its holdings, cut energy costs [2013 Giants 300 Report]

Over the past 15 months, Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini has done a creditable job of restoring the agency’s standing with Congress and the public.

Mortenson Construction (design-build) teamed up with Seattle Public Utilities’ S
Mortenson Construction (design-build) teamed up with Seattle Public Utilities’ Solid Waste Division to create a new solid waste transfer station. The 98,000-sf LEED Gold facility includes a drive-through tunnel for more efficient and safer loading, as well as a complete separation between commercial and self-haul traffic. Rainwater is recaptured for irrigation and truck wash-down. Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
July 18, 2013

The U.S. General Services Administration, “the nation’s landlord,” is the largest owner of civilian properties in the world, with 9,600 buildings and 354 million square feet of space. The agency has been nursing a black eye for the last year, ever since it was revealed that GSA staff had spent $823,000 on an over-the-top training party in Las Vegas. The scandal forced the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson.

Over the past 15 months, Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini has done a creditable job of restoring the agency’s standing with Congress and the public. President Obama has pledged to nominate him to the permanent post.

SEALING THE DEAL WITH THE DONALD

The GSA story that’s been getting all the headlines has to do with Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka winning the rights to the 114-year-old Old Post Office in the District of Columbia.

They plan to turn it into a 260-room grand hotel, with conference facilities, restaurants, and a spa. Work should get under way next year. About 370 federal employees will be relocated, but the public will still have access to the famous clock tower, which will be managed by the National Park Service.

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TOP GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE FIRMS

 
2012 Total Government Revenue ($)
1 Stantec $159,464,794
2 HOK $128,492,000
3 HDR Architecture $118,587,642
4 IBI Group $90,772,791
5 Heery International $83,833,166
6 SmithGroupJJR $66,316,000
7 Perkins+Will $56,535,643
8 EYP $50,800,000
9 HNTB Archtecture $46,172,039
10 PageSoutherlandPage $41,854,020

TOP GOVERNMENT ENGINEERING FIRMS

 
2012 Total Government Revenue ($)
1 Fluor $3,301,919,000
2 URS Corp. $693,536,105
3 AECOM Technology Corp. $522,390,000
4 Jacobs Engineering Group $422,670,000
5 STV $196,225,000
6 Michael Baker Jr. $109,360,000
7 Science Applications International Corp. $66,429,538
8 Parsons Brinckerhoff $56,438,739
9 Merrick & Co. $54,500,000
10 H&A Architects & Engineers $40,736,471

TOP GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

 
2012 Total Government Revenue ($)
1 Clark Group $2,490,446,190
2 Turner Corporation, The $2,263,528,000
3 PCL Construction Enterprises $1,990,709,582
4 Hensel Phelps $1,261,539,776
5 Balfour Beatty $1,253,718,331
6 Walsh Group, The $1,080,133,038
7 Gilbane $917,333,000
8 McCarthy Holdings $662,000,000
9 Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., The $559,879,593
10 JE Dunn Construction $543,694,613

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE FIRMS

 
2012 Federal Government Revenue ($)
1 HOK $63,235,000
2 SmithGroupJJR $40,600,000
3 PageSoutherlandPage $39,650,000
4 Heery International $36,256,354
5 IBI Group $31,575,728
6 EYP $29,000,000
7 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill $24,731,000
8 Stantec $22,500,211
9 Leo A Daly $18,500,439
10 Perkins+Will $15,589,734

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ENGINEERING FIRMS

 
2012 Federal Government Revenue ($)
1 Fluor $1,238,675,000
2 URS Corp. $243,003,486
3 AECOM Technology Corp. $109,000,000
4 Parsons Brinckerhoff $42,703,522
5 H&A Architects & Engineers $37,417,066
6 Merrick & Co. $30,000,000
7 Michael Baker Jr. $14,460,000
8 Affiliated Engineers $9,058,000
9 Bridgers & Paxton Consulting Engineers $5,494,458
10 Dewberry $5,377,009

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

 
2012 Federal Government Revenue ($)
1 Clark Group $399,007,396
2 PCL Construction Enterprises $298,606,437
3 Hensel Phelps $285,134,984
4 Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., The $233,168,558
5 Gilbane $188,656,000
6 Walsh Group, The $174,977,580
7 Balfour Beatty $163,198,909
8 Turner Corporation, The $162,590,000
9 Mortenson Construction $134,476,000
10 James G Davis Construction $130,000,000

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP STATE GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE FIRMS

 
2012 State Government Revenue ($)
1 Stantec $65,067,691
2 Perkins+Will $27,947,950
3 HNTB Archtecture $19,760,606
4 IBI Group $19,527,117
5 DLR Group $16,500,000
6 HDR Architecture $13,834,330
7 Reynolds, Smith and Hills $10,900,000
8 HOK $9,874,000
9 NBBJ $6,464,000
10 SmithGroupJJR $5,700,000

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP STATE GOVERNMENT ENGINEERING FIRMS

 
2012 State Government Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs Engineering Group $422,670,000
2 AECOM Technology Corp. $107,390,000
3 URS Corp. $39,573,323
4 Michael Baker Jr. $14,510,000
5 Simpson Gumpertz & Heger $8,900,000
6 Arup $8,586,368
7 Dewberry $7,169,346
8 STV $6,920,000
9 Coffman Engineers $3,966,000
10 Science Applications International Corp. $3,652,796

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP STATE GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

 
2012 State Government Revenue ($)
1 PCL Construction Enterprises $1,154,611,558
2 Clark Group $762,324,927
3 Turner Corporation, The $639,844,000
4 DPR Construction $277,866,261
5 Skanska USA $218,424,589
6 McCarthy Holdings $199,000,000
7 Gilbane $168,482,000
8 Hensel Phelps $154,763,793
9 Tutor Perini Corporation $114,117,662
10 Balfour Beatty $83,388,173

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP LOCAL GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE FIRMS

 
2012 Local Government Revenue ($)
1 Stantec $71,896,892
2 HOK $49,140,000
3 IBI Group $37,523,493
4 Heery International $23,648,201
5 PGAL $19,500,000
6 Perkins+Will $12,997,959
7 EYP $11,000,000
8 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill $10,903,000
9 Reynolds, Smith and Hills $10,900,000
10 ZGF Architects $10,014,686

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP LOCAL GOVERNMENT ENGINEERING FIRMS

 
2012 Local Government Revenue ($)
1 STV $170,285,000
2 URS Corp. $58,897,110
3 AECOM Technology Corp. $50,000,000
4 Arup $18,981,280
5 Smith Seckman Reid $16,715,381
6 Science Applications International Corp. $15,801,804
7 Dewberry $9,114,869
8 Simpson Gumpertz & Heger $8,400,000
9 Syska Hennessy Group $8,141,149
10 Walker Parking Consultants $7,700,000
2012 Local Government Revenue ($)
SEE FULL LIST

BY SUBSECTOR:
TOP LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

 
2012 Local Government Revenue ($)
1 Turner Corporation, The $1,226,581,000
2 Clark Group $548,902,070
3 PCL Construction Enterprises $517,584,491
4 Walsh Group, The $450,441,105
5 Manhattan Construction $243,963,000
6 Hunt Construction Group $196,000,000
7 Gilbane $191,794,000
8 McCarthy Holdings $176,000,000
9 Balfour Beatty $171,637,641
10 Skanska USA $157,244,000
2012 Local Government Revenue ($)
SEE FULL LIST

The Trumps will lease the 315,000-sf structure for 60 years, at $3 million a year. The deal has garnered mostly positive response from historic preservationists, who took a collective deep breath in relief that the venerable building would not be razed. It costs the GSA $6 million a year to maintain it, even though only 70% of the space is being used, so it looks like a win-win-win for the Trumps, the GSA, and taxpayers. 

But the Old Post Office is hardly the only “excess property” in the GSA’s portfolio of 1,500 owned buildings. In the past five years, the agency has disposed of more than 750 surplus units, including 114 in fiscal 2012. Last December, the GSA asked for ideas on how to redevelop another three million square feet of government office space in the Federal Triangle. Navy Yard Annex Building 213 near Nationals Park in Southeast Washington, once a top-secret CIA facility—its spies took the famous photographs verifying the presence of missiles on Russian ships steaming toward Cuba during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis—has been turned over to Forest City Enterprises. Next to be mothballed: the 2.4 million-sf J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in downtown Washington.

Tangherlini says he wants to downsize federal workspaces—the GSA per-employee average is 86 sf, much less than that for most other federal workers—while making them more technologically sophisticated, largely through cloud-based computing. He has noted that at GSA headquarters, 40% of desks are empty most days. (Tangherlini himself does not have a private office, preferring space in an open office setting in the newly renovated GSA headquarters at 1800 F Street, N.W.)

The agency, which holds 8,100 leases, continues to shift federal workers around to save on rent. Coming soon: The relocation of 2,100 staff and contractors of the National Science Foundation from Arlington, Va., 10 miles south to Alexandria, a move that the GSA says will save $100 million over 15 years.

The GSA has cut energy use in its buildings by almost 25% from the 2003 baseline set by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Along with the Environmental Protection Agency, it is on track to meet all seven sustainability goals tracked by the Office of Management and Budget.

The Obama Administration has asked for more than $2.1 billion in fiscal 2014 for non-Defense construction, including $1.3 billion for 28 large-scale renovation projects, $261 million for the $3.45 billion Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Southeast Washington, and $108 million for a new FBI records facility in Winchester, Va.

With sequestration in effect, however, it’s unlikely the GSA will get all that cash. In fact, the Government Accountability Office has recommended holding up 11 federal courthouse projects. The GAO says the projects, including those in Mobile, Ala., Nashville, Savannah, and Norfolk, Va., will total $3.2 billion, not the $1.1 billion the GSA says they will cost.

Welcome to business as usual inside the Beltway.

Mixed picture at the state and local level

State tax revenues were up 9.3% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government (reported at www.pewstates.org). Revenues were up in 39 of 47 measured states. North Dakota tallied 74.6% more year over year, and California pulled in a $4.5 billion windfall.

At the same time, however, many local governments have been hurting. Last March, the Pew Charitable Trusts reported that 30 of the nation’s most populous cities faced at least $192 billion in unpaid commitments for pensions and retiree healthcare benefits (www.pewstates.org/cities).

In sum, whether there will be money for civic building projects in your community will depend on three factors: location, location, location.

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