- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
- In Colorado, a pot holiday tries to go mainstream
- Ukraine PM vows to find ‘bastards’ behind anti-Semitic fliers
- Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
- Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation in South Korea
- Militants kill 14 Algerian soldiers in ambush
- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
Report: Old courthouses need $760M in repairs
The cost to the federal government to build new courthouses could be much higher than originally thought, a new report has found, as estimates often leave off the costs of repairing and selling old structures the new construction will replace.
The General Services Administration has 40 old courthouses in its possession that will likely need $760 million in renovations before they can be used again, the report concluded, raising questions about what officials will do with the buildings.
But the amount needed for renovations hasn’t been included in budget estimates by the agency, which could represent the true cost of building a new structure to replace an old one, said the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog arm.
Estimates on how much it might cost to refurbish old buildings before selling them could “provide greater transparency to congressional decision-makers regarding the full costs of courthouse projects,” the GAO said.
An expansive building program has constructed 79 new courthouses during the last 20 years, federal data show.
“Because these buildings are usually located in city centers, there is often a high level of interest by the public, local governments and Congress regarding their future use,” the GAO said. “However, reusing or disposing of old courthouses can be difficult because many were built in the 1930s or earlier, do not meet current court security standards, and those that have been designated as historic are subject to historic preservation requirements.”
The GSA was able to get rid of 25 courthouses, but many others are still in use. With new digs often nearby, however, the amount the buildings are being used is dwindling. On average, about 14 percent of the space in an old courthouse isn’t being used, the federal watchdog said, compared to the average of just 4.8 percent unused space in other federal buildings.
The GSA said it would expand its reporting to include the costs of selling an old structure while building a new one.
Federal officials are trying to find uses for the buildings that are beneficial to all, the GSA said, and noted there have already been some success stories. For examples, the former courthouse in Hammond, Ind., is now the administrative center for a church; and the retired courthouse in Greeneville, Tenn. is now a bank office building.
But it can sometimes be difficult to find tenants for the building, especially because so many require repairs. After the Justice Department moved out, the courthouse in Sacramento, Calif., sat unused for 10 years, and the courthouse in Reno, Nev., went half vacant for 20 years.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Phillip Swarts is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covering fiscal waste, fraud and political ethics. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and previously worked as an investigative reporter for the Washington Guardian. Phillip can be reached at email@example.com.
- Golden Hammer: Easter candy bitter taste for taxpayers?
- GOLDEN HAMMER: Bad Easter candy? Government sugar subsidies cost taxpayers millions
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- EPA didn't track own air pollution program — report
- Naval cruiser planned for retirement now headed back to work
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- CHARLES: Holder's undermining of the law deserving of contempt
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Former Blue Angels commander relieved of duty for alleged misconduct
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.