Saturday, July 31, 2010

The wasteful Washington spending continues

By Rep. Bob Goodlatte
Republican - 6th Congressional District

As I travel throughout the 6th Congressional District, meeting with my constituents, I consistently hear concerns about the out-of-control government spending that is going on in Washington. The majority of my constituents rightly know that in these challenging economic times it is even more important for government to control spending. However, this is a principle that has been lost on the Majority in Congress. They have increased federal spending at an unsustainable pace, spending billions of dollars on wasteful projects in failed attempts to grow our economy.

One particularly egregious waste of taxpayer dollars is right here in southwestern Virginia. Just over a year ago, it was announced that nearly $51 million of the taxpayer’s money would be spent to increase the energy efficiencies of the Richard H. Poff Federal Building in downtown Roanoke. I have received numerous inquiries from constituents concerned about the excessive price tag for the project, the cost effectiveness of this project relative to alternative construction, and the inability of local businesses to bid on the initial stages of the project.

Recently the primary construction contract was issued to an out of the area company. Since that time I have aggressively sought answers from the GSA regarding the cost and scope of this wasteful and misguided project and called on General Services Administration (GSA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate this matter.

I am particularly concerned about the lack of a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the renovation and failure to include security improvements to the building in the project’s plans. Recently I learned that the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, one of the largest employers in the Poff Building, had requested that GSA examine alternatives to the renovation of the Poff Building for security and efficiency reasons and was refused. Our federal district courts have many controversial criminal and civil trials and security must be a top priority.

Additionally, I have strong concerns about the significant impact of the renovation on the tenants of the Poff Building. It has come to my attention that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Roanoke Regional Office will be moved to four different locations. Not only will this be difficult for the employees of the VA Roanoke Regional Office but it will cause an increase in already lengthy delays in processing veterans’ claims and place an unnecessary burden on our area veterans when they are seeking assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How can GSA spend nearly $51 million of the taxpayers’ money to renovate the Poff Federal Building and yet not address the needs of the building’s tenants? Recently Senators Warner and Webb, recognizing that this project is ill-conceived, wrote to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Administrator of GSA suggesting that the Poff building renovation be halted.

The path to our economic recovery starts with fiscal responsibility in Washington and that’s why I have strongly urged GSA to immediately halt the wasteful and misguided renovation of the Poff Federal Building. I will continue working to see that a thorough investigation into this matter is completed. We must ensure that any improvements made to the Poff Federal Building will be beneficial to the taxpayers, the federal government, and the Poff Building tenants.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at

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