The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 54
analysis determined that renovation of the existing
facility with Recovery Act funding was the most costeffective option."
"They made it all about greening the building when
they didn't have any kind of study telling them they could
accomplish that," Goodlatte says. "They talked about a
new roof, new windows, new HVAC. That's generally
a good thing, but the cost of project relative to energy
savings doesn't ever work out. The cost of this pays back
in energy savings over 218 years...The life expectancy of
the building and HVAC system is only 30 years."
When the GSA released its request for proposals to
potential bidders, it included the guaranteed maximum
price - the most it would pay for construction work
- which violated the Competition in Contracting Act.
Not surprisingly, all 10 bids came in with identical construction costs - $39 million, the guaranteed maximum.
Since all the bids came in with identical construction
costs, the GSA awarded the contract to multinational
construction contractor Balfour Beatty based on design
costs, which totaled less than 1 percent of the contract's
"In short, a contractor need only be competitively
priced on a $225,000 option to win a contract in excess
of $40 million," wrote Nicholas Goco, who authored the
inspector general's report.
Goodlatte: "The GSA is out
IN TESTIMONY TO a congressional subcommittee in
April of 2011, Inspector General Brian Miller tried to
answer the title of the hearing: "Richard H. Poff Federal Building Renovation: Is It Costing the Taxpayer
"The answer is we cannot tell, and we cannot tell
because of how GSA awarded the contract," Miller responded. "GSA set the price for construction, instead
of using competition. Without competition, we cannot
gauge whether the prices are fair and reasonable."
Ehrenwerth argued that releasing the maximum price
allowed for earlier collaboration between the agency and
contractor, but he also admitted the practice was "not
Screw-ups renovating the Poff Building, however,
were far from complete. The $51 million budget left out
costs to relocate the federal offices during construction,
which cost an additional $11.5 million.
The renovation itself was marked by a general lack of
communication between the GSA, the contractor and
the tenants who actually use the building. The tenants
were shut out of pre-project planning, meaning they
had no input on features that would make the building
Then, while work was underway, with only a couple
of exceptions, "it was as if a wall of silence had been established between the court on one side, and the project
contractor and GSA on the other," said Judge Conrad.
The GSA management team from Philadelphia visited
only monthly and went through three project managers in three years, according to congressional testimony
from Jennifer Smith, who represented the U.S. district
court in meetings with the GSA and contractor.
That lack of presence meant the GSA also provided
poor oversight of the contractor. Smith cited numerous
code violations, flooding issues, frequent unnecessary
fire alarms, unsafe working conditions and security
breaches, including workers spying on staff to obtain
certain security codes.
The apparently unexpected discovery of collapsing
brick facades and major water issues in the 2-story employee parking deck created a new round of problems
and an additional $15 million in work. Smith claimed in
her testimony that the GSA knew about those problems
but left them out of the budget in favor of "lower priority
POFF FEDERAL BUILDING: 40-YEAR TIMELINE
Obama signs it into law.
Goodlatte sends his first
New federal building con-
About $109 million goes
letter to the GSA express-
GSA posts the Request for
GSA awards a design and
structed in downtown Roa-
to projects in Roanoke.
ing his concerns about the
Proposals to FedBizOpps,
construction contract to
renovation project. A series
including the guaranteed
Balfour Beatty Corpora-
of sporadic correspondence
maximum price within the
tion. The total $42.5 mil-
U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and
follows, with Goodlatte
lion contract includes $11.3
Federal building officially
Mark Warner announce the
growing increasingly con-
GSA will receive more than
million for Balfour Beatty,
as well as $13 million for
GSA awards a $6.5 million
$66.3 million to renovate
Southern Air, Inc., $10 mil-
and modernize five fed-
design contract to TranSys-
lion to American Door and
Congress passes the $787
eral buildings in Virginia,
GSA, posts a notice to so-
tems Corporation of Kan-
Glass and smaller amounts
billion American Recovery
including an allocation of
licit proposals for design
sas City, Missouri.
to other subcontractors.
and Reinvestment Act of
$50.9 million for the Poff
services on the project.
2009, and President Barack
building. Congressman Bob
54 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014