The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)...
is building a $4.5 billion headquarters at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a former mental asylum.
It’s the largest construction project in DC since the Pentagon was completed in 1943 and won’t be completed until 2026 - a decade behind schedule and $1 billion over budget (with no guarantee that the next stage of the project will be fully funded).
St. Elizabeth's was the oldest federally funded psychiatric hospital in the country and irony of ironies for the endless sprawl of agencies that has become the DHS, the hospital's most infamous resident was John Hinckley, Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Today, DHS has 240,000 employees and a yearly budget of $60 billion and St. Elizabeths' first new tenants - the Coast Guard - will move in this August. But, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, the future of the rest of the project remains uncertain...
and "[It's] increasingly apparent that DHS’s scheme to build its headquarters on the grounds of a former mental hospital is inherently flawed," he writes. "Some would say it’s crazy."
“I said anyone who thinks you can combine 22 agencies and 200,000 people and it’s going to be more efficient and economical needs to have their head examined.”
“They started planning this thing in 2005, and now it’s projected to be completed in 2026,” he says.
“That’s 21 years. The estimated cost is now $4.5 billion. That’s $1 billion more than their original estimate.”
DHS’s senior leadership heartily endorsed the concept. Michael Chertoff, the secretary at the time, couldn’t wait to get everybody together at St. Elizabeths. “Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal,” he says, “but the reality is, if people come to a single building and they see a lot of mingling together in the cafeteria and mingling in the gym and people coming in and out of each other’s offices, it reinforces the idea of a single department.”
...and “The D.C. traffic was awful.”
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek