Segment 2 Of 2 Previous Hearing Segment(1)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 STATUS OF COURTHOUSE CONSTRUCTION, REVIEW OF NEW CONSTRUCTION REQUEST FOR THE U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AND COMMENTS ON H.R. 2751, TO AMEND THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS ACT OF 1959 TO IMPROVE THE MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS OF THE U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
THURSDAY, JULY 16, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Development,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:00 a.m., in Room 2253, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Jay Kim (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. KIM. Good morning. The subcommittee will come to order. I'd like to welcome all of the members this morning. Today, we are meeting to receive testimony from the GSA Courthouse Construction Program, as well as testimony on GSA Fiscal Year 1999 construction proposal, the United States Mission of the United Nations in New York City. At this hearing, we intend to hear comments from both GSA and the judiciary on House of Resolution 2751, a bill for the improvement of real estate operations of General Services Administration.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
The prior two Fiscal Year budget proposals put forth by the administration did not provide any funding for courthouse construction. Last year, the administration suspended funding for new courthouse construction, as well as all new GSA construction, due to a shortfall in the Federal building fund. At that time, Congress agreed to the suspension based on assurances by the administration that this would only last 1 year.
However, the administration's Fiscal Year 1999 request contains no funding for new courthouse construction. The administration's justification this year involves the President's priorities to fund domestic programs and claim that courts have not fulfilled the utilization study requirements in the Fiscal Year 1997 appropriations act.
While the committee has differed with the judiciary on several aspects of the postponement, we believe that sufficient progress has been made in important areas of cost control to continue the construction program. This effort has been underway for the past 3 years, providing us with a priority list of projects with some reasonable assessments.
The judiciary has revised the design guide five times in the past 7 years, most recently in 1997. The latest changes addressed the compelling issue of courtroom sharing. The policy now calls for the sharing of facilities by senior and visiting judges whenever these judges do not have a caseload requiring a courtroom. The 1997 revision, combined with the 1995 revisions, have resulted in an eight percent reduction in construction costs. It is this ingenious first demand reforms on the part of the judiciary and then you can know their efforts.
Currently, we do have before us 13 unofficial prospectuses representing what would have been GSA Fiscal Year 1999 Courthouse Construction Program. However, we cannot act upon these prospectuses without some mission by GSA.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
For nine of these projects, we do have prospectuses from previously submitted requests involving site acquisition and design. We may act on these if supplied with updated fact sheets. These facts sheets provide updated financial information on the projects and could, in conjunction with the testimony we receive today, allow us to take action on these nine projects. However, the other four projects for which you have no official documentation and we are still pursuing an effective course of action to take.
Today's hearing will allow members an opportunity to discuss all of these projects and allow the administration to present details about the projects. We'll hear from the Commissioner of the Public Building Service of GSA and the Honorable Judge Stahl, speaking on the behalf of the Judicial Conference. In addition, we also have the Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. to testify on the construction project for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in New York.
I wish to thank all of the witnesses for their appearance this morning. At this time, I'd like to recognize Mr. Traficant for his opening remarks.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Mr. Chairman, before I begin, I have a letter here dated July 15, 1998, from Congressman Bob Filner, relative to the pressing Federal courthouse expansion needs in San Diego, which I support. And I want to ask unanimous consent that this letter be placed upon the record, and that attention be granted to it in an expeditious fashion.
Mr. KIM. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information follows:]
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. TRAFICANT. I would like to welcome all of the witnesses here today. I'm glad to see that the Honorable Judge Ann Williams is here, along with Judge Stahl, who has done a tremendous job. Also to see Bob Peck and his staff, and Peter Burleigh from the United Nations. Good to see you. Good friend of mine, Bill Richardson, who's going to over to Energy, and tell him not to forget his old buddy, the sheriff.
But in welcoming all of you, you know we know that Judge Stahl's been a witness before this subcommittee on numerous times and his insights and workings of the judicial committee on space and facilities, he's always been informative and has helped this subcommittee very much. So along with Judge Ann Williams, who served in that capacity for years, and advised the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on these matters, that will be a plus for our subcommittee.
But I think it reflects a growing cooperation between the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the General Services Administration. Bob Peck has been working very closely, and Jerry Thacker, and many other people, Judge Stahl, and the people here, to get this done.
So for over 5 years, through two administrators and two commissioners, the courts and GSA have worked to develop new standards for construction, new design guides, new policy regarding judicial space, and all these initiatives being grounded in a desirea genuine desireto be more efficient with scarce tax dollars. And we've seen a lot of that happen over the years, and I want to give credit to my colleague, Jimmy Duncan, from Tennessee, who's been a strong voice to ensure that these types of efficiencies have occurred.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
The two groups have made great progress in those regards, and have worked together, and they have examined such money saving ideas as collegial floors, energy efficient construction, donated sites, and space efficiencies through design excellence. And some of the designs have garnered architectural awards, as well as other plaudits.
Judge Stahl has been instrumental in keeping the process clear and concise, and for that, we thank him and all of the people at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. We also owe a debt of thanks to Bill Guerin of GSA's Court Management Group, who's also worked diligently with the courts to meet their needs, at the same time being responsive to our subcommittee and the demands that were evidently necessary over the years to make us more fiscally sound.
But this subcommittee needs to complete it's work on the authorization process for the court program and take the recommendations of Judge Stahl here today to heart, and make it happen. We need to review and analyze comments on H.R. 2751 and move to implement a strategy which allows GSA to maintain the Federal inventory in the most effective manner for the taxpayer.
Now there is a situation's that developed here that has me concerned, and there are four projectsI think it's Biloxi, Mississippi; Springfield, Massachusetts; Eugene, Oregon; and Wheeling, West Virginiawhere there is, after a period of time, still no 11(B) report. And I know that we will be addressing this matter and I'm recommending to the committee that 11(B) reports be affected on these four sitings as soon as possible, so the committee can do it's work.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
And from what I understand, there's been some tie up with the Office of Management and Budget. And again, without going back in to that whole matter, I think the Office of Management and Budget should leave that which is Peter's to Peter and that which is Paul's to Paul, and I think the subcommittee better carefully take care of the business of GSA and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and make sure that no one interferes with that process. So I'm hoping that in the next markup, those 11(B) reports can be handled satisfactorily.
So with that, I want to welcome all of the witnesses here today, and I want to thank them for working close together in making the process more efficient and streamlined.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Traficant. Are there any members who wish to make a statement? I see none.
I'd like to welcome our first witness on this morning, the Honorable Judge Norman Stahl, Judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and Chairman of the Security and Facilities Committee of the Judicial Conference; and, he's accompanied by Judge Ann Williams, of the Northern District of Illinois. Welcome to this proceedings. We appreciate your participation this morning. Go ahead, please.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JUDGE NORMAN STAHL, FIRST CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS AND CHAIRMAN, SECURITY AND FACILITIES COMMITTEE, JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES, ACCOMPANIED BY HON. JUDGE ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS, JUDGE, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, AND FORMER CHAIR, ADMINISTRATION AND CASE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Judge STAHL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. For the record, my name is Norman Stahl. I'm a judge on the First Circuit, and I chair the security and space committee. It's a pleasure to be here today again. With me is Judge Ann Williams, a United States District Judge in the Northern of Illinois. Judge Williams is going to discuss the courtroom sharing portion of our testimony this morning, as she is extraordinarily familiar with that subject.
As you know, the judiciary has tried to work very closely with this subcommittee, and I think we have done so successfully over the past years. We have been, and we always will be, committed to working with you to discuss our current issues and to resolve in a most mutually agreeable way, the concerns you or other committee members may have about this program.
Each time I've come before the subcommittee, I've talked about caseload growth. This is a very real problem for the Federal courts, and it's the caseload growth which drives our need for space and facility. Just a few statistics for you to contemplate.
In district courts, the average number of weighted filings per judge has increased nearly 50 percent, from 344 cases to 504 cases, between 1979 and 1997. And in some courts, the number is even greater. In the courts of appeals, something that I know a little bit about from personal experience, the filings have grown at an even greater rate. We've had a 100 percent increase from 1979, 460 to 940 filings per panel. That's an enormous increase in the workload of the courts of appeal. Our bankruptcy filings per judge have quadrupled since 1979, up 23 percent in 1997 from the 1996 level. The criminal caseload increased 5 percent in 1997 to 50,363, the highest level in over 60 years.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Between 1985 and 1995, our staffs have doubledjust about doubledto over 28,000 people. We've had 3 judgeship bills in the last 20 years, 1978, 1984, and 1990. So there's been no real increase in the judiciary for some years. All these statistics point out the need for modern facilities to handle the increased workload and to safely house the people who go to work there every day, and those who must come to our courthouses to have their business taken care of.
How we've gotten to where we are. In 1986 and 1987, the judiciary recognized that it needed a better approach to plan for court facilities. So we took several steps to examine the space acquisition process. In 1987, the judiciary commissioned the National Academy of Public Administration to study ways of improving space and facilities management for the judiciary. That study concluded that we were not doing a very good job of communicating of our long term and short term space needs through the GSA, who builds the buildings for us.
In 1987, the Judicial Conference Committee on Space and Facilities was created to address the facility needs of the courts to make policy recommendations on improvement. The Judicial Conference has taken major actions, most of which have been ignored by the Office of Management and Budgetthe things which we think we have done to address their concerns and concerns which have been expressed by others.
First of all, the design guide was initially published in 1991. We've revised it several times to incorporate suggestions from GSA, the public sector, and obviously, this committee and other committees of Congress. We've tried to work from experience. As we build buildings, we learn lessons, and those lessons are incorporated.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Prior to 1991, there was little guidance available to GSA, or the private sector, or frankly, to the courts, on how we should plan for a functional, secure, and workable facility. The Conference endorsed a nationwide long range planning process for the courts in 1988. The judiciary's one of the few Federal organizations doing any kind of long range facilities planning.
Our statistical methodology used to project space requirements has been endorsed by the GAO. Each judicial district throughout the United States has a long range facilities plan. These plans are routinely updated. The projects resulting from the long range planning process are prioritized and scored in our 5-year plan.
We've developed a policy on courtroom sharing for senior and visiting judges and utilization. As I said earlier, I'm going to ask Judge Williams to discuss that subject. Both Judge Williams and I are able to relate day-to-day experiences at the Federal court, and when we get to the question period, of course, if the committee has questions in that area, we're going to be pleased to answer.
I must say that I think that the actions of OMB for the last 2 years, in not putting the courthouse program into the executive budget, has been unfortunate. And their justifications, I think, are somewhat a post hoc rationalization.
I'd like to just refer to one project, the Brooklyn project. I am told that the delay in the Brooklyn project cost the taxpayers $475,000 a month. By my math, that comes to a pretty good piece of change at the end of a year. That's a project that, as everyone knows, is desperately needed and I hope that that project, along with rest, will get approved this year.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Just a few comments on H.R. 2751. One of the issues in H.R. 2751 that concerns us is putting into the statute the requirement for courtroom utilization and sharing data at new and existing locations. We really don't think that this has to be memorialized in legislation. We give you all of this data gladly; you're entitled to it; we are providing it; and we think it really isn't necessary to put it into the legislation.
The legislation also requires the GSA to transmit the comments to the design guide. The design guide is given to the committees; you have that information; I somehow don't think that that has to be, again, put into the legislation. We really try to foster, and I think we have, a very cooperative relationship with Congress, and we will continue to provide you with the information data that you desire.
At this point, I'm going to defer to Judge Williams for her comments. If you want to question me now, or at the conclusion, which I leave that to the committee to determine. Thank you.
Judge WILLIAMS. Chairman Kim, and members of the committee, I am Ann Williams, and I have served on the Northern District of Illinois since 1985. I was Chair of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management for 4 years, and served on that committee for a total of 7 years. And I'm grateful to have the opportunity to appear before you this morning.
My comments will basically cover three areas. One, the importance of a courtroom to a judge's work. Two, the steps we've taken to make sure we have the correct number of courtrooms needed to accomplish our work. And finally, our efforts to ensure that unnecessary courtrooms will not be built. You may remember, Chairman Kim, that I visited you last year to discuss this topic in the context of courtroom sharing, and it is good to see you again.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
I think we can all agree that the courtroom is the most important tool that any judge has at his or her disposal. The certainty of an available courtroom in order to ensure a firm trial date is what encourages settlement of cases, and 95 percent of our cases settle. Without that settlement rate, we would be buried with cases waiting for trial.
In addition to trying cases in the courtroom, we hold motion and status hearings, which are almost always held on the record in open court. Sometimes judges hold them five times a week; other judges may hold them as little at two times a week. But those courtrooms are necessary.
We have emergency matters like temporary restraining orders. We have no way of predicting or anticipating when those matters will be filed and need to be heard. But I can tell you from personal experience, that most of them need to be heard the very day they're filed.
Or hearing on bench or arrest warrants. For example, someone on supervised released disappears, a warrant issues, and that person is arrested by the marshals. Usually we need to hold the hearing the same day to determine if that person's going to be held in custody.
Or settlement conferences in large pretrial hearings. Often in complex cases, we have multiple parties and many lawyers, and our chambers are not big enough to hold meetings.
No one would really question here that judges need courtrooms. We are here because H.R. 2751 raises the issue of who really needs a courtroom, and how many courtrooms are necessary in any courthouse. Measuring courtroom utilization is a complex process, much more than counting the time or the hours that the lights are on in a courtroom.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Before the Judicial Conference adopted it's recent courtroom sharing policies, which Judge Stahl referred to, we asked the RAND Corporation to look at the literature on available courtroom sharing and to advise us on the feasibility of conducting a courtroom utilization study. RAND informed us that such a study would cost millions of dollars, would take at least 3 years, and that when all was said and done, RAND could not guarantee that it could or would arrive at a formula for the number of courtrooms needed that could be applied on a national basis. They're good reasons for that.
Courtrooms are not fungible; courthouses are not factories. What you need in Manhattan may be very different from what you need in New Mexico. In Manhattan, you may be able to walk down the hall and find an available courtroom; in New Mexico, you may have to go across the State to find an available courtroom.
Another reason is that our jurisdiction continues to expand. New laws are always being passed that create new Federal causes of action. When we build courthouses, we build them to last more than 50 years. And it makes sense to build courtroom space when a new building is built, rather than adding on later, which is always more expensive.
More importantly, the judicial docket is unpredictable. Unlike the Supreme Court, we can't determine the number of cases we will actually hear. Due to the speedy trial act, criminal cases must be tried within a short time after indictment. Civil cases that actually go to trial require months of preparation and are usually scheduled many months in advance. And these cases can't be schedule on short notice. Witnesses have to be subpoenaed, travel arrangements have to be made, lawyers' schedules have to be juggled, and sharing courtrooms substantially complicates this already difficult task. If judge A's trial takes longer than anticipated and that judge is sharing a courtroom with judge B, judge B can't start their trial on time.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Or what about this recent problem. Because of a construction project, 15 judges in 1 of our busiest courthouses have had to share 10 courtrooms. Recently, the chief judge was having great difficulty scheduling a three week civil try. Why? Well, voluminous files had to be stored in the courtroom and video and audio equipment had to be installed, equipment that's difficult to move from one courtroom to another.
Ad hoc solutions or just making due with an inadequate number of courtrooms depends on day-to-day flexibility, and it is not the way to run any efficient court system. Now what I've said about the importance of and having enough courtrooms does not mean that we shouldn't be cost conscience in building courthouses. We've very concerned with cost.
In fact, in March 1997, we adopted, as Chairman Kim alluded to, a policy of courtroom sharing that requires circuit councils to take a look at all the courtrooms in the district; to use courtrooms for more than one use; to provide a courtroom for each active judgewhich is the norm by the way in the State courtsand for each senior judge that carries a caseload requiring substantial use of a courtroom.
We thought it made more sense to adopt a policy that was geared to the need for the courtroom, rather than the status of the judge. Our senior judges often carry a substantial caseload for years. And indeed, the 1997 statistics show that senior judges carry 20 percentor tried 20 percentof all civil trials. In my district, we have five seniors in 1997. One carried a full criminal and civil caseload and four carried half calendars, which means they were equal to three full time active judges.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 For the year 1997, they disposed of 48 criminal cases, and the average district judge disposed of 20 per year. So that's the equivalent of 2 1/2 judges. The seniors also closed 1,282 civil cases, and that's the equivalent of 3 active judges.
In terms of courtrooms, only one of those judges has a full jury courtroom. The other four have courtrooms that are smaller, with smaller jury boxes. They only share full courtrooms with active judges when there are multiple parties. And that system has served us well. We have four vacancies and we could not function without our seniors. Just this month, two other judges went senior, and that brings our total to seven, and they will do the work of four judges. Their work is critical to the citizens of our district.
Our courtroom utilization policies which I referred to earlier are new, and each circuit council has now submitted a policy based on Judicial Conference policy. Planning assumptions that will assist the councils in determining the proper number of courtrooms in a new facility, and also in determining whether they need a new facility at all, are now in place.
And some of these factors are the average of new district judges, the average number of years it takes for a replacement judge to begin work, the number of years that a senior judge would require a courtroom dedicated to his or her use.
We're also asking each circuit council to determine whether they need to maintain courthouses that have no resident judges.
Given all the efforts the judiciary is taking, we ask that before requiring further expensive study and possibly non-productive study, that you give us the opportunity to see the effects of the Judicial Conference's space policies. We have put plans into effect that should ensure the adequate number of courtrooms to do our work, with a clear goal of keeping costs down.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
That concludes my formal remarks, and I would be happy to answer any questions of the committee.
Mr. KIM. Any questions from the members? Mr. Traficant is recognized.
Mr. TRAFICANT. After a period of years you begin to listen very carefully the testimony of witnesses. Jerry Thacker, Judy Russell, Bob Peck, Mr. Garren, Judge Williams, Judge Stahlall question several elements of H.R. 2751, which is without a doubt a reasonable and bona fide attempt by this subcommittee to promulgate and develop legislation to affect some of the shortcomings.
I think their concerns and their comments about both design guide and utilization of space as far as micro-managing is probably valid, justified, and should perhaps be addressed by this subcommittee and removed from H.R. 2751. Furthermore, I think they're other real outstanding features of the legislation that have been brought forward to make significant changes in the Federal Protective Services program. And it might be possible because of the matters of time, to combine remaining elements that deal with scoring and financing in H.R. 2751 with FPS legislation and bring them both together as a package. I think that would make sense.
I think that after listening to testimony and having worked with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, I think within reason, you not only have an understanding, but a pragmatic approach to the utilization of space and we should adhere to it. We should do it forthwith, and expeditiously provide them with an opportunity to maximize the utilization of their space in naturally, cost-effective manner.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
So with that, all I would like to just say is that I have a number of questions for this panel that I'm going to submit in writing. You need not take a lot of time with them; be brief and to the point; and submit them to the subcommittee to be spread upon the record.
But I would just like to say that in working with your staff for a number of years, I think your staff has come to advise us very well. And I think they have a pretty good grip on what's going on. We do not want to be in your way. And we do not want to micro-manage. The problem we have is that at times we're not sure who we're working withwhether we're working with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, GSA, Public Building Services, or if actually, we're dealing with OMB in absentia. So it makes us look towards clarifying, crystallizing policy because of those dynamics.
But I think on the unanimity of the concerns that they bring forward on utilization of space and design guide, that clearly that is probably a micro-managing position. So maybe there's some other matters in absentia we could look at as far as OMB. But those two have probably been brought forward enough, and I think they probably should be removed from the legislation.
I'll submit mine in writing. I thank you for your testimony. Nice to meet you, Judge Williams, and look forward to working with you.
Judge WILLIAMS. Same for you, sir.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. KIM. Any further questions from the members?
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. The Chair recognizes Mr. Duncan, the gentleman from Tennessee.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Chairman, let me, first of all, say that I want to commend you and Mr. Traficant for introducing H.R. 2751. I hope Mr. Traficant doesn't back up too much on the legislation, because I think it's a good bill as I've said before. For several years, this subcommittee in some ways was just a rubber stamp for all of these projects. And the reason that something like H.R. 2751 is needed is because we're still getting ridiculous costs on some of these projects.
We've got before us today, a request for a courthouse in Savannah, $253 a square foot; Brooklyn, $256 a square foot; Eugene, Oregon, $231 a square foot; Springfield, $224 a square foot; Denver, $217 a square foot. This is just too much. As has been pointed out many times on the national news, State governments are building beautiful courthouse facilities for $125 -$150 a square foot. These costs are excessive.
And in addition to that, we've got I'm told 94 Federal court districts. We've got 161 requests for new courthouses. And we've been buildingup until the last couple of yearswe've been building courthouses at a record rate. So what you're talking about is giving two or three new courthouses for each district. It's just too much. And there's a lot of lip service being paid to costs, but we're still getting ridiculous, excessive requests.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
I thank you.
Mr. KIM. Thank you. Are there any other members who wish to be recognized?
Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. KIM. I'm sorry, just one second please. Go ahead, please. I'm sorry.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. Mr. Lampson, from Texas.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you very much. Judge Williams, you made the comment that there were four vacancies in your district. How long have those vacancies been there?
Judge WILLIAMS. Two of the vacancies have been there for about 16 months. The other two, one for approximately 6 months, the other for about a year. As yet, we don't have a hearing for the oldest vacancy. I was advised that there's a possibility that she will have a hearing tomorrow. So it's created a real problem in our district.
We also, in addition to the work of our seniors, have a visiting judge program, where senior judges come in from other districts. But we can only accommodate one judge at a time, because we don't have the space to accommodate more visiting judges. But that's how we've been able to do the work of the courtthrough our seniors and with the visiting judges. But it's been quite some time.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. LAMPSON. What happens to the courtrooms of those vacancies during the time that those offices are vacant? Are they used by the visiting judges, and are they used fully, so that the caseload is really not diminishedexcuse me, not increasedon the part of the remaining judges?
Judge WILLIAMS. Yes, and what happens is, until the new judge comes, the senior judge just retains their original courtroom. So, when the new judge comes, the senior will move to a smaller facility. So the courtrooms are being utilized. All the courtrooms are being utilized, but the seniors are in those courtrooms, and they'll move.
Mr. LAMPSON. My premise was going to be whether or not there would beand my questionwhether or not there would be a savings. If there was any way that we could reduce the total number of needed courtrooms by being able to speed up the process of appointing the vacancies that exist in our various judgeships. Do you have thoughtseither of you have any thoughtsalong that line?
Judge STAHL. Really, no. The courtroom is theit's interestingit's really one of the smallest costs of the courthouse construction. We figure that the average courtroom costs $750,000 in a courthouse. Taking out a courtroom doesn't mean that you justthat space goes away. Because depending on how the courthouse is configured, it's somewhat difficult to remove the courtroom without a reconfiguration of the entire building.
The vacanciesparticularly where senior judges continuethe facility continues to be used. And as Judge Williams' said, all that happens is when a full time active judge is appointed, that senior will end up sharing with someone else, moving to a smaller courtroom, one which has maybe a smaller jury box, if it's available. And so that really doesn't make any appreciable difference.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
When I was a district judge, we ran with fewer courtrooms than judges, and so I have some personal experience with what happens when that does occur. It became very difficult to schedule our cases. It became quite inefficient. And today, in the new courthouse in Concord, the district judges tell me they don't have that problem, we've speeded up significantly the handling of cases, the backlog is down significantly, and I think that that is largely attributable to the fact that there is no problem over the assignment of courtrooms. And that's a courthouse where the courtrooms are not assigned to the judge; they're assigned to the case. I believe that has made a huge difference in productivity.
Mr. LAMPSON. Won't be any difference then when we catch up on the appointment of the judges. Is that making anythe slowness of the appointment of these positionsis not creating a work difficulty on the part of other judges?
Judge WILLIAMS. Oh, it's creating a real work difficulty. Just because we have the seniors that are helping out, doesn't mean it's creating a difficulty. Usually, the first 6 months, even 6I would say the first 6 monthswe don't suffer as much from a vacancy. You know, we get increased filingsour proportionate of increased filings. Let me give you a specific example.
We get an average of 35 civil cases a month. If we have a vacancy on our court, that may mean that I may get three or four new cases a month, during the period of that vacancy. After about 6 months, when discovery really begins to crank up, and motion practice cranks up, we can really feel the impact of having those vacancies. Now with our seniors taking the amount that they have, that reduces the extra number of cases I get. But I'm still getting more cases than I would if we had those positions filled.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
So it's really creating a real crisis, not only in our court, but in many courts throughout the country that have been waiting for long periods of time for those vacancies to be filled. So it does affect the workload.
Judge STAHL. I can speak to the court of appeals of my court. I've been a court of appeals judge for 6 years. During that period, we have been at full strength, I would say, maybe 2 1/2 yearsin other words, we've had senior status occur, and we've waitedJustice Breyer went to the Supreme Court, we had Judge Cyr take senior statushe took senior status almost 2 years ago. Our replacement for him comes on boardthe first session he will sit is September of this year. Now what that did was for each of us, we had to ramp up again.
And if it wasn't for the senior judges of our own court, who range in age up to 92, who continue to sit and continue to carry a caseload, we would not be able to operate efficiently. The cases would be filed and it would take much longer to disposition. That's what really happensis that there are so many hours in a daymy job is particularly reflective, and at a certain point, you just can't do any morethe hours just aren't there. And so if we didn't have both visiting and senior judges in the First Circuitit's a six judge active courtwe would be in very serious condition.
Judge WILLIAMS. And I might say thataddthat some of our seniors, I think, would opt to have a lesser load, if we were in an ideal situation, if we had all of our actives. But they feel obligated, and they recognize how difficult it would be for us, so they serve longer and carry a heavier load than they had anticipated when they looked forward to senior status. And I think that's a real credit to them, but they know the crisis that we're in.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. LAMPSON. Well, I can't help but think that there's got to be some effect with the facilities that are available. Certainly that is a problem, and it's a serious problem in my Congressional district, where there are vacancies that have not been filled for a very long period of time.
Thank you both very much, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. At this time, the Chair recognizes Ms. Norton, the gentlelady representing the District of Columbia.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to Judge Stahl that I did not get to hear his testimony. I heard part of Judge Williams' testimony. My concern on this committee initially, of course, has been about luxurious courtrooms. I guess we're done with courtrooms with high ceilings good for a palace, and now we're into whether there are enough courtrooms and whether there's enough space at all.
I recognize that there has been a backlog of need for courthouses. I recognize by statute the courts may not rent space, but of course, have to be government owned space. But I am not unsympathetic to the notion of trying to find out how much space is actually necessary, unless one adopts the position that one should build courthouses infinitum. I do not embrace that position, because as it is now, building courthouses is crowding out virtually all other construction. And I certainly do not embrace the notion that the only thingthe only construction that the Federal Government should engage inis courthouses.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Now, I'm not sure one needs a RAND studythe most expensive consultant in the countryI might like to give it to some business school students to try to sit with a computer and figure something out. I don't think one needs a kind of state-of-the-art mathematical studythe kind that too often we pay forto try to get a handle on whether or not we are in too odd infinitum, building courthouses, which I assure you means, in this budget climate, we are in odd infinitum to building nothing else.
So I do not acceptI do not sit on this committee only to build courthouses. And I see a backlog of other kinds of needs that I don't think we can continue, as long as we don't get some balance. So I'd like to ask some questions.
Judge Williams, you spoke about senior judges, and you yourself said that one of the reasons they are being used is because there are so many vacancies. Did I understand you to say that you thought senior judges ought to also each have a courtroom?
Judge WILLIAMS. Yes, senior judgesthe policy of the Conference is that senior judges that carry a substantial caseload that requires a courtroom, should have a full courtroom.
Ms. NORTON. Now, see, I understand that.
Judge WILLIAMS. So that doesn't mean that senior judges automatically get a courtroom. The senior judge has to make a commitment to have a substantial caseload in order to justify that. So that judge has to have a caseload, like in my district, half the judges who have those courtroomswe have one judge that has a full size courtroom, and he's carrying a full civil load. The other judges have smaller courtrooms, but they are jury courtrooms, and they're carrying a substantial load. And those senior judges need those courtrooms. They are trying jury trials, just like I'm trying.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Ms. NORTON. This really lays out my dilemma. At a time when there are an unusual number of vacancies, senior judges will be neededGod bless themand we'll carry large caseloads. In, in fact, the vacancies had been filled as I wish they had, it follows that senior judges might well not carry as much of a caseload. So, to build courthouses as if senior judges were, in the normal course of business, carrying full caseloads, does not seem to me to make sense.
Judge WILLIAMS. Well, let me just
Ms. NORTON. But one would have to determinelooking anecdotally at any moment in time, would tell me absolutely nothing about senior judges. I would have to look over some space of time over, frankly, a good number of years, perhaps even decades, to find outand by the way, this doesn't take a RAND studythere might be a clerk in the court that could do thisfind out how often senior judges were pressed into full time use, or what the utilization of senior judges are. I mean, there are calculations that can be made here.
And one of the things the courts have to do and have to understand they have to do, they have to be more analytic about the way they go at space. You'll have much more credibility if you come and say look, we do see a cut off point to this; and we are willing to say that, for example, with senior judges, we calculate that on the average, they will more often need no more than a certainthat you will have on the average, no more than a couple of senior judges who will carry full caseloads. So we really are not saying to you, Congress, get readyon your mark, get ready, you're going to build courthouses from now until eternity, unless you can yourselvesand this is what I want you to understandunless you can yourselves come forward with some way to increase the efficiency of the use, so that you are inviting, what I do not at the moment fully support, these notions of utilization studies, which by statute, put on you utilization constraints that may prove to be very unrealistic. So it's either going to be you with the constraints or they're going to be statutory constraints.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
That's the way in which this Congress is going to operate. They're not going to let you continue to build courthouses by coming up here saying you got some senior judges, and you've got some judges that need space, and the rest of it. They're going to say, what are you doing to increase the efficiency so that we will not have to continue to build courthouses, which are among the most expensive construction we engage in.
Judge STAHL. When we prepared our new assumptionthe basis of those assumptions was to try to determine exactly the issue which you are raising. What we tried to do is to take average age, average history, what the past has proven, what it is likely to mean for the futurethat's what the new
Ms. NORTON. That makes what senior judges are doing today irrelevant.
Judge STAHL. Well, in a sense that's true. But let me say this, and I think it's important to keep this in perspective. When you look at caseload over the years, and you look at vacancies, we always have had vacanciesRepublican and Democratic administrations.
Ms. NORTON. Precisely.
Judge STAHL. There are always vacancies. We're always behind the curve. There's one variable that we have no control over; Congress has the control over itthat is the expansion of Federal jurisdiction.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Much of what has driven the increase in the Federal courts has been the almost yearly expansion in the work that we are required to do. In the criminal area, we have cases which used to be considered quintessential State law cases. That's driven the numbers. In the mean time, the judges themselves have stayed, since 1990, static. We haven't had any increased judges. Many courts clearly need increased judges.
So, we've tried to factor all of these things in. How long does it take between a vacancy, when somebody gets appointed, when somebody starts to work. Now, it may not be perfect, but we are aware of exactly what you are saying. We know that there are limitations on the Federal budget. We know all of these problems, and yet we know that you also want us to get the work done. And the public wants us to get the work done, and they want us to get the work done expeditiously.
We don't want cases on the docket that are 10 years old and 8 years old; we don't want time between filing an appeal to disposition to the defendant who may win his case, has already served his sentence; we don't want those things. But that is a function of what we're dealing with.
And so, when we did these planning assumptions, it was exactly with what you had in mind. It is not a snapshot today. It tries to look at history and to project the future. Not perfect; we're working with it; and I think we've made a good faith effort.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Will the gentlewoman yield?
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Ms. NORTON. I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. TRAFICANT. You know, we have seen over a number of years imaginations of Presidential politics and philosophical bends of the courts play a major role in limiting the effectiveness of our court system. And without getting real historical here, I think it was Jefferson who said, ''beware the appointment of Federal judges for lifetime terms, for they could take the Constitution and mold it like clay in their handsGod bless juries.''
I think we're tied up with that. I think there are Republicans who like to hold back the appointments by Democrats. Vice versawe had Democrats holding back that by Republicans. I think it's very important, Mr. Chairman, there be a letter sent from this committee with strong supportive data to state first of all to Chairman Hyde and ranking member Conyers of the Judiciary Committee, that all efforts be made to fill outstanding appointments. And an accompanying letter also go to the Senate.
But you know, I see these agencies always in that trick bagas a street termwhere they don't get the numbers, they're robbing Peter to pay Paul, they are getting an expanded caseload.
And I would just like to say one thing about expensive courthouse construction. I do not want to see Federal courthouses look like State courthouses. I do not want to see Federal courthouses look like any other courthouse. I believe that there is a certain propriety to having a Federal courthouse make an impression to the public for which it standsthe important of that in our country, in it's services.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So, all of theseand I think the gentlewoman from D.C. has struck upon that fine balance. Again, Mr. Chairman, we have to rely upon those who provide this service, to advise us what they need, and then within the constraints of money, we have to make that decision. And I think it must be tempered with a good faith effort to make sure that they're adequately staffed, because we have expanded their caseload significantly, and because of politics, we hold back the number of providers that they are asked to do it with.
And I think it's incumbent upon us, in recognizing that, to make a statement to the respective committees, and to the Senate, and to the White House that they expeditiously move on with the appointment of needed Federal judges. So I'd ask unanimous consent that a joint letter be sent, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. Without objection, so ordered.
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry, yes, Judge Williams.
Judge WILLIAMS. I would just like to go back to your question. Because in terms of the current statistic I gave you, when we look over the long rangelet's say 10 years, because we are fully on the same wavelength in terms of getting that statistics. That is an easy statistic to get, as you said. And historically, if we look back 10 years, senior judges have handled 10 to 15 percent of the caseload of the judiciary, so that is a fixed number, and that helps us make predictions about how long senior judges will actually need a courtroom, and what the workload is. And that is why that is a critical component of the planning guides that we have told the circuits they have to take into account when deciding whether seniors can get courtrooms.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
But I want to get to that RAND point that you made. Because you said, why do we need such a sophisticated studywhy is that necessary. If it was just to measure the length of time seniors put in, and what kind of caseload they have, I agree with you, we wouldn't need RAND. All we'd need is a numbers cruncher for that.
But the reason that we looked at RAND is they just finished doing extensive work for us on the Civil Justice Reform Act, analyzing many thousands of civil cases throughout the country. So they have the knowledge and the wherewithal, in terms of the Federal caseload and how the caseload works. That's why we looked at RAND.
And even RAND, with all of their sophistication, could not measurecould not guarantee to usthat they would be able to measure all the factors that determine how courtroom space is utilized. For example, if we don't have a courtroom when we're getting ready to set a trial date, the lawyers know that, the lawyers can back away from settling cases, so the courtroom space is necessary so that we can give those firm trial dates. Those are factors that are very difficult to measure.
Ms. NORTON. Judge Williams, I was responding to your response that you thought every senior judge needed a courtroom. And my concern about a RAND studyand I do not believe that to be the caseI understand about the 15 percent of the caseload, and I certainly don't think a utilization study is a simple thing to do. But, very frankly, in terms of coming forward every year for courthouses, I am saying that I believe that the judges would have more credibility even if we had a quick an dirty study that would give us some sense that you get to a point that you're not going to be asking for more and more courthouses. Because, and let this be a warning, when that happens, then you see what you obviously do not want a utilization study.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
I don't want to press the point. I think I have made my point, which is that there are efficiencies here. I recognize that you're engaged in some of them. It is not satisfactory to say to the committee, I'm sorry, you need a RAND study, and even they can't do it. You've got to come forward with your own versions of how to limit the number of courtrooms, or you are inviting statutory response.
I have one more question, unless you have some more.
Judge WILLIAMS. Well, I would just say that's information that you will have. That is information that we will provide.
Ms. NORTON. But, then of course, you don't need a RAND study, and you have satisfied.
Judge WILLIAMS. That's our point. We agree with that.
Ms. NORTON. I mean, I don't think you need to puff the problem. You don't need a RAND study in order to give us
Judge WILLIAMS. Exactly.
Ms. NORTON. some sense that you are engaged in an efficiency study. And two, every single judge does not need a courtroom.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Judge WILLIAMS. We agree.
Judge STAHL. We agree about that. There isn't any argument about that.
Ms. NORTON. Alright, then let me go on to my next question.
Judge STAHL. That's what ourall of what we're doing is
Ms. NORTON. If we've come to a point of agreement
Judge WILLIAMS. We have.
Ms. NORTON. We ought to be happy with that.
Judge WILLIAMS. Alright, yes.
I have no further comments on that.
Ms. NORTON. That doesn't happen in this chamber very often. I'd like to ask about security. In the district of course, where you have the lion share of Federal office space, there has been great concern about security. And of course concern would be there would be particular concern about the courts. I wonder what you're evaluation of court impact of these concerns, especially since the Oklahoma City bombing, and what you think needs to be done that is not being done.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Judge STAHL. We havefrankly been, very concerned about security. Security is a constant theme. At every meeting that I run, Federal judges talk to me about securityraise security concerns. I think these concerns are legitimate. It is very, very difficult to say where the security problem is going to arise. It may be in Washington, D.C., it could be in Oklahoma, it could be in New Hampshire. I can tell you just briefly, when we had the very unfortunate shooting in the North country of New Hamsphire several months ago, the deranged man who did it, had presented himself at the Federal courthouse the day before, where he had two cases pending, had a briefcase with him, which he couldn't open and they wouldn't let him in now. So you never know where security concerns arise.
We have been beefing up security, and that has shown up in the budget. The GSA introduced many security-related measures after Oklahoma City. We have more cameras, we have better security rooms where we have CSO's looking at the TV screens, we have looked at 24-hour security for courthouses. We don't have 24-hour security for most of our courthouses in the United Statesthat may not be realized, but we do not.
And we've looked at all of these issues.
Ms. NORTON. What do you mean when you say they don't have 24-hour security? There's somebody there 24 hours?
Judge STAHL. No. Most of the courthouses in the United States, that's not true. We have securitytypically, for instance, when I leave my courthouse, and I often leave fairly late, I'm the last person sometimes leaving. And there's nobody there. We have a contract guard in another building, which is adjacent to our courthouse, but there's nobody in the courthouse. At 6:00 at night, we have somebody still in the control room. There's nobody at the front door. For instance, I had a visitor the other night at 6:00. I had to go downstairs to let him into the building, which is the only way you can get it, because there's nobody there.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Now one of the things you have to recognize that these security changes we have made has done more to drive to the cost of the courthouse than anything else. It's not the high ceiling, it's not the wood, it's that we have redundant, triple circulation. It is absolutely essential that we do this. The courthouse that we vacated in Concord had two elevators we sharedjudgesthe public shared them with people in chains. We had no way to separate jurors, public, lawyers, defendants. And so the new courthouse has all of those things. The working space is somewhat larger. Most of the increased space is in the circulation space in order to separate out all of these functions. And that has driven the cost.
A very real part of what we see going on is that security drives cost. For instanceand I think the GSA can answer this better than I canbut if you bomb proof a buildings to make them more secure from the type of accident that happened in Oklahoma City, you drive the cost way up, without changing the basic function of the building. That's something that I think the committee must recognize. The Congress must recognize we live in more perilous times than we used to, and I think that is something we all are concerned about.
Judge WILLIAMS. I might add that if you look at two of the prospective projectsin Springfield and in Savannahthe same situation that Judge Stahl described that he had before the new building, is true therewhere prisoners move through public corridors and public elevators. We areand I can use this as an example nowwe have a judges elevator in Chicago, but it's under renovation. And, as a result of that, sometimes I am going up the elevatorbecause there's been one elevator that's now been designated for judgesbut sometimes I can't wait for that elevator, and so I'm going up with prisonersnot prisoners, because we do have a prisoner elevatorbut we run into the families, we run into witnesses in trials. And what's happening in those two districts that are waiting for courthouses, they're seeing those people every day in the corridors, in the elevators, and that is a totally unsafe situation.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
In terms of 24-hour coverage, we have one contract guard in Chicago that is in our courthouse 24 hours a day. But no one mans any other part of the building. That's it.
Ms. NORTON. I'll wait until Mr. Peck comes. We may be coming to the point where the building's more secure if it's guarded by technology than it is guarded by people. So I'm not insisting that there be somebody, but rather that courts be secure 24 hours a day. I do think they would be in some cities the most vulnerable institution.
Thank you very much.
Mr. KIM. Thank you. Mr. Traficant is recognized for additional questions.
Mr. TRAFICANT. A couple points on the security. It is a fact in Oklahoma City at the three Federal buildings, there was only one full time officer that was on duty for all three buildings. This committee has brought forward and certainly doesn't deal with the courts themselves, but through the Marshall Service, but real briefly would, what's the status of the coordinated efforts between the FPS and the Marshall Service as it affects courtrooms? Because, I think Ms. Norton is right, and whether it's technology or people, but ultimately, there are a number of people who are seen and they are deterrents. What's the status, or have you found to be the relationship, and how are their coordinated efforts to enhance, since specifically, Oklahoma City, the security elements or the courtrooms?
Judge STAHL. Well, it's always difficult when you have bifurcated responsibility. And I think there have been efforts made to communicate the concern and to try to work out some of the problem. We've had ongoing discussion with the Marshall Service and with FPS about perimeter security, internal security, courtroom security. All of these issues are under discussion almost constantly, because it is a concern.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
FPS has reduced it's visibility across the country. It's a much smaller force than it was, as I understand it, long before I became a Federal judge. And so that, for instance, in Concord, we have Federal Protective officer who sort of roams around. But that's it. And we largely rely on our court security officers for our security. We happen to have a very good force there. It's relatively young force, and energetic, and I think that they do the very best they can. But that is an ongoing problem.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Would the AOUSC submit to the subcommittee your position or analysis on the strength, and the size, and the adequacy of manpower at the Marshall Service, and what shortcomings or recommendations you might make in that regard?
Judge STAHL. Well, I think we'd be glad to respond to your request. It will take us a bit of time, but we will do that.
Mr. TRAFICANT. No time element required. Second of all, when you talk about jurisdiction, based on the number of filings, there may be some district court systemsFederal district systemsin America that might have the accumulation of case filings dealing with this whole business of narcotics, and as you talk about, the additional expanded role. I would like your viewsyou could submit them also in writing, but I'd like some brief comment now, if you willon perhaps the creation of within certain districts where the numbers of filings on narcotics cases subject to Federal court action is necessary, whether or not special Federal drug courts could be established that would remove those dockets from the remaining district system, and if that would be an effective way maybe of doing it.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Judge STAHL. I think that the Federal judiciary believes that it should remain a court of general jurisdiction. What does happenfor instance, San Diego's a good examplewhat does happen in a court like San Diego, the court is largely dealing with immigration and drug related crime. And so that they have one of the heaviest caseloadsweighted caseloadsin the country. And that court does that. But, I think that if you ask the judges, that is still the best way. Specialized courts raise a very real concern, and I think that judges who tend to more thingsperhaps they're better judges because you have a more balanced view of what's really out there. If you do the same thing day in and day out, I think that it does have an effect on your perspective. And in my view, we would be better off not doing that. I think Judge Williams would probably agree with me.
Judge WILLIAMS. 100 percent. And some of the courts are trying to find creative ways to balance the criminal docket and the civil docket, and some courts hold weeks where they try civil cases versus criminal cases, so that there's some balance in the picture. So we're looking, and when we look at management of those cases at ways to try to make sure we get to those civil cases and to do them as efficiently as possible. But I agree. I think that it doesn't make sense to carve out drug cases. And I think it gives us a better perspective to see the whole gamut in terms of the criminal law.
Mr. TRAFICANT. The only other thing I'd like to say is that for example, in a system like San Diego, if for example there was a special courtroom that was built strictly for the drug cases, because of the numbers of them and your judges, the same judges on a revolving basis would handle them. I'd just like to see if there's some way to expedite, because these cases many times are complicated, they take a lot of time, and they back up civil dockets.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Judge STAHL. Well, what they do out there, for instance, the magistrate judges by consent try a lot of the civil cases. In busy courts of that nature, where there are judges available, the tendency is to settle civil cases. Most civil cases ultimately get settled. We have a high rate of settlement of civil cases. I think that criminal cases are very different. The guidelines affected what happens in criminal cases by the people. There are a whole host of ramifications.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Well, in any regard, not to belabor it, but maybe have the AOUSC submit something along those lines and let us look at it.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Traficant. I do have one simple question, but because of time constraint, if you don't mind I'd like to submit a questiona half dozen of themin writing.
Judge STAHL. No problem.
Mr. KIM. So you can respond back to us at a later time. One comment and question I have is this courtroom sharing program. Your initial reaction was not that exciting about that program, and you asked for $3 million for a 2-year study. So, you're going to get that. Well, my question to you is $3 million enough, or 2 years enough, and what do we expect? Second, can you give usyou don't need to be poeticcan you give us copies so we can sort of review it, working together, instead of independent.
Judge STAHL. Well, I don't know where we are on the question whether there's going to be a mandated study. My concern in the Federal Government, or in State government, from my experience, has been that when we mandate studies, that's an excuse for not doing anything. Because we wait around to see what the study will say. I think thatI would hope thatwhen all of this year shakes out, that we do not have a mandated study. I agree with Judge Williams that we're going to come to the conclusion when we're all through that we need courtrooms for judges if we are going to get the cases done. So the answer is I'm not very sanguine as to what a study would show other than what we already know.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Judge WILLIAMS. And, Mr. Chairman, I just want to say that having had the experience of RAND doing the Civil Justice Reform Act study, which studies thousands of cases, we as judges on the committeebecause I was on the committee when we got that mandate from Congressall knew that firm trial dates cause settlements. And the biggest finding that RAND made, after years of study and millions of dollars, was that firm trial dates settle cases. And so I am really skeptical because I feel that we know what the results would be, and it would be that you need to have courtrooms for judges.
Mr. KIM. But then your committee asked for this.
Judge WILLIAMS. No, we didn't ask for that.
Mr. KIM. Okay, then my apologies. Well, thank you very much for participating today. I appreciate it.
Judge STAHL. Thank you for having us.
Judge WILLIAMS. Thank you.
Mr. KIM. Next witness would be Mr. Robert Peck, Commission of Public Buildings Service of GSA. Mr. Peck, you can proceed.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT A. PECK, COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE, U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. PECK. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. I will just note that accompanying me today are Paul Chistolini, our Deputy Commissioner, and Mr. Bill Wren, who is the head of our Courthouse Management group. Bill is the guy who deals with this program everyday.
I want to thank you for inviting GSA to appear before you to discuss our courthouse program. I have a statement for the record, which I'd like to submit, and then I will just summarize.
I want to say we are proud of the courthouses we are producing and of the strong project management that is allowing us to bring in high quality buildings within the appropriated project budgets. The courthouse program, to put it in perspective, is the largest such public buildings program since the Depression era Program of Public Works.
And in partnership with the judiciary and the private design and construction industries, GSA is producing landmark Federal courthouses that are worthy of the American people and of their conviction that the pursuit of justice is one of the highest ideals of American Government. We are commissioning the best American architects, and our courthouses are winning praise, not just for their design, but from their users for their functionality. And that's a true test of a construction project.
I also want to report to you that we are as tough on our project budgets as we are about excellence in design. Courthouses are complex, and their requirements are exacting. We have established a sophisticated benchmark system to ensure that we maintain cost and quality parity among projects with varying requirements and very different sites and different locations around the country.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
We are confident that we can continue to bring our projects in on budget. I will just note, for example, in Fiscal Year 1998, we will complete seven courthouses within the aggregate budget provided for them. In the first month of Fiscal Year 1999, we will complete two more courthouses, on which we will come in $11 million under project budget. It's a rare occurrence in the Government to report that you've beaten your budget, and yet, we're starting to do it.
The courthouse program, as provided by the judgesand Judge Stahl and Judge Williams talked about itincluded a total of 160 proposed projects at an estimated cost of about $8 billion. To date, we have completed 14 of those projects and another 26 are under construction or soon to be, which I'll describe in somewhat more detail. We estimate the budget for those 120 projects yet to go to be about $5 billion. In other words, we have in the first 40 projects, if you work out the numbers, completed by size, most of the larger projects in the program. Although, I should note that there are some very, very potentially large ones, such as in Los Angeles, yet to go.
We design our courthouses based on the design guide produced by the Judicial Conference. They are complex buildings. They are expensive buildings. But we are holding them to the expense that we think is necessary to produce the project. Just to put these in perspective, we have found that we can produce buildings with, what in the real estate industry we refer to as efficiency, about 65 to 75 percent efficiency. In this case, meaning the ratio of occupied space to total gross square footage in the building. The remainder is circulation and service spaces in the buildings. By comparison, on most private sector office buildings, you're trying to get something close to 90 percent. But the spaces are much less complex. As Judge Stahl and Judge Williams noted, we provide three separate circulation systems in courthouses.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
We are insisting on achieving a minimum of 67 percent efficiency in each project, and as I review the designs, I'm happy to note to you that I haven't even been presented any that don't meet that number.
I also note that when we talk about courtroom sharing and all these other things, it is a complex subject. We have in a couple of cases, including in Judge Stahl's new courthouse, provided collegial floorscourthouses in which the chambers are on one floor and courtrooms on a separate floor. We did a study, and we have not found that that particular layout generated a space or cost savings. Although some of the judges tell us there is another benefit in that the judges being together, have an opportunity to confer with each other more often.
We do think there are potential cost savings that we have not yet achieved. The most significant determinate in the cost of a building is it's overall size. The amount of volume, the amount of square footage that you build, is basically what determines the cost. It far outweighs other factors that are more visible, such as the exterior cladding and the interior finishes.
We would welcome the opportunity to work with the judiciary to evaluate further how many courtrooms we need to accommodate a specific projected caseload in different locations. As I say, and as the judges said, it's not a totally simple issue, but we believe it is one that also is not quite a complicated as a Rubic's cube and one that we can attack and solve.
We are insisting on building designs of lasting quality and dignity. And our construction standards, I know, produce buildings that will last for more than a century and probably for more than two. The court facilities we are building are appropriate to the seriousness of judicial proceedings and because we talk about this, but don't ever see thingsI've provided with my testimony photographs of four courtroomsI hope you have themprojects that we have completed, to show you that the courtrooms themselves are functional, yet beautiful; inspiring, without being overwhelming; and grand, without being grandiose.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
If you can see in the color photographsit's hard to tell the materialsbut I would note most of the wood you see is wood veneer. That is, thin slices of wood pasted on either plywood or some other kind of backing material. You will note, for example, in the Boston Courthouseat the endwhat might look like an intricate pattern, but most of what you see is basically drywall with stenciled paintings on the wall. It's a New England tradition to have stencils in courtrooms, and we've continued that there. But it's not expensive, I can assure you.
One note I will make, I want to associate myself with Ms. Norton's remarks. I do have a concern that most of the construction that the Government is approving these days is for courthouses. There are various other important permanent Federal needs that seem not to be provided for any more through government-owned construction, and I think it's something that we have to address, and I know that this subcommittee and I have talked on any number of occasions of the importance of finding funding mechanisms to do that.
I want to brag a little more about our cost benchmarking process, just to note that a cost benchmark is a reference cost estimate. It is adjusted for things like labor conditions in different areas, the size of courtrooms, the ratios of courtrooms spaces to other spaces, and significant site conditions that may make a just rote application of a cost formula inappropriate. Since 1995, we estimate that our benchmarking analyses have resulted in approximately $31 million in avoided expenditures for new courthouse construction.
I want to note in the interest of candor, a factor which doesn't get discussed very much, which also influences the costs of our courthouses, and that sometimes makes us go beyond our benchmark. From time to time, members of Congress themselves, with interesting courthouse projects, feel that our benchmarks do not produce the quality of courthouse that they believe important to their communities. And in some cases, in legislative language, we have been directed to spend more money than even we had recommended on those courthouses. We would welcome the subcommittee's guidance on how such situations should be handled in the future.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
We are talking also about refining our cost benchmarking process, and we think that there are ways in which we might be able, with the experience we've had in the program, to come up with more precise estimates of what the costs are to be.
In response to what Mr. Duncan said, I should noteand again Mr. Traficant expressed quite eloquentlythe distinction in quality that has been around for quite some time nowat least several decadesbetween Federal and State courthousesare a little bit of more enduring quality.
I'll also note that with the changes in jurisdiction in Federal courthouses, I think the security concerns, I can't say there's any less of a security concern in local or State courthouses are of concern to us. The drug jurisdiction in itself is quite a concern for security. We estimate that security add 5 to 10 percent to the cost of a Federal courthouse, at least since the design changes we have made after Oklahoma City.
We're also trying in talking about security to try to do things that are more subtle, and less visible, so that our courthouses do not look like they are closed off to the public. They have to be open to the public. There are ways in which we can use landscaping, street furniture, trees, to keep vehicles away from the building, for example. And there are clever ways that we can design lobbies to make sure that we screen those who get into the working part of the courthouse, without making the public feel like they are excluded.
We have institutedin my testimony, and I'll just note ita number of innovative techniques to manage our program. We have established a project management center of expertise to make sure that we have the best project managers on our courthouses and make sure that we may even move courthouse managers around the country, as they complete a project, to work on new ones. That's not something that we've done very much before. We are training our project managers systematically.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
And we are proposing the use of computerized photography to take photographs of our completed buildings, so that in designing new ones, we have access to a ready information database to show judges and designers the options they have, and things that we've learned that have worked, and that have not worked. I will note, because my testimony doesn't, that this sounds quite complicatedthe entire budget so far for taking photographs of our completed buildings and getting this system going, is only $70,000and we think could save us quite a bit of travel and other money.
We have a strong partnership with the Administrative Office. We meet with them periodically. I note that this year we'll have our second partnering between the Marshall Service and the Federal Protective Service devoted to security.
Finally, as I've noted, we have $5 billion remaining to be funded for the other 120 courthouses in the program. We and the courts have agreed for some time that we would propose projects at a rate of about $500 million per year. Most years we havein fact, for the last 3 yearsmet that program, except of course for Fiscal Year 1998, when we got no funding.
I'm just noting as I always do that our projections of income to the Federal Buildings Fund through the rents that we charge Federal tenants is sufficient to fund operations, to fund our security in Federal buildings, to fund the Capital repairs and modernizations necessary to keep our inventory functional and productive. It does not provide enough income to sustain a program the size of the courthouse program. And in years when we have had active new construction starts, we have done it because Congress has provided additional appropriations to the program, and I believe that that is the way it will have to be done in the future.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Given the cost of the judiciary construction, the administration believes that we must re-double our efforts to ensure that these new public buildings are designed and built as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. Only by examining ways to reduce the overall number of courtrooms and the amount of ancillary space we need to build, by refining our benchmarks, and by holding firm to project budgets once they are set, can we assure the taxpayers that these needed buildings have taken advantage of every realistic opportunity to save costs.
As you probably know, GSA's Fiscal Year 1999 appropriations billsin the Senate now just the other day, as well as in the House, at least as reported out by committeeinclude funding for approximately $500 million in courthouse construction, which would provide funding for site design or construction of about 15 projects. If these amounts should be finally approved by the full Congress and signed by the President, we would look forward to continuing this construction program with the quality and care that we have taken to date.
And I will be happy, of course, to answer any questions you have.
Mr. KIM. Thank you for that smooth presentation.
Any questions? Mr. Traficant?
Mr. TRAFICANT. Yes, I always look forward to the testimony of Mr. Peck. He's interesting and he gets right to the point. You know you said that you agree with Ms. Norton, and we all do. We believe she's under-employed, and she'd probably be on the Supreme Court herself.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Could you really see her there? We'd straighten things out. But you said, yes, everything's for court construction. Where are the prospectuses for anything else coming from Mr. Peck and his staff?
Mr. PECK. Mr. Traficant, my responseI will have to be briefI said that was my personal opinion. Obviously, there are others who, within the administration, who don't quite agree.
Mr. TRAFICANT. So, OMB is holding back anything and everything other than, so you've been restrained and constrained, to submit that which you can, and that was courthouse construction, to this committeesubcommittee.
Mr. PECK. Although, to be fairand I'm always trying to be fair to OMB, in the hope that they'll fair to me, we have recommended a U.S. Mission to the U.N. building, border stations, and of courseinappropriately, in my opinionalthough there are other problems surrounding ita construction of a new DOT headquarters. So there is that.
But let me just tell you what I'm talking about. We find that we are building regional FBI offices in various locations around the country in which we can't seem to get funding for direct construction; we wind up doing a lease construction project. And I'm not sure that, given the security concerns and all that, that that's altogether appropriate.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. TRAFICANT. I think those are valid issues and subcommittee should take them to heart. I have a couple of questions here. You said that there are additional cost factors placed on by what you alluded to as political interference and politicians making requirements on buildings that may go over and beyond what GSA and PBS rationale might support. I'm not going to ask for anything specific at this point, but I'd like for you to detail for me with social security numbers and license plates, any examples.
And your best interpretation of how to do that, without a big fiasco here, of maybe some of the things that happened and how maybe this subcommittee could allay those types of things. And certainly, there's always the GSA, and PBS, and AOUSC that, on occasion, wants to take care of certain political figures. And you allow, and you embellish, certain prospectuses as well. So, it's a two-edge sword, Mr. Peck.
Mr. PECK. I'm shocked.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Let's see if we can get to that. A couple of other things. Let me say this. Go ahead.
Mr. PECK. Mr. Traficant, I just want to be clear. There have been a number of situations that I was alluding to in which there's a fairthese are notI'm not talking about outrageously inflated requests. There are instances in which, for example, we have suggested that there be some stone on the outside of the building and the rest of it be precast concrete, a cheaper material, but one which will nonetheless endure. And in some cases, members have said, in this particular part of this particular community, it ought to be all stone.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
In one case, we're doing an annex to a Federal building. When it was built 60 some years ago, it was all stone. There's a strong sense in the community that the new one should be all stone too. It's a couple million dollars, however.
Mr. TRAFICANT. It's understandable. Sometimes you have the precast, sometimes you have the stone.
Mr. Peck, the bottom line is we have to fund these projects, not to make light of it. But I wanted to talk to you about something else. Because basically, it is time to tell it like it is. The sheriff has submitted legislation to reorganize, to reform, to enhance, and stabilize the Federal Protective Services. From what I understand, through my many informants, that you basically, in concept, support it, all except for the one provision that would take your deputy administrator responsible for the FPS, and take that away from PBS, and have that specific director then report directly to GSA, and naturally on a horizontal basis, work with PBS.
Is there anything else in that bill, at this point, you oppose?
Mr. PECK. There's nothing that I oppose. There are a couple of things that we think we might improve.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I didn't ask you that.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. PECK. I don't have it in front of me, but I believe the answer is, no. There's nothing else that I oppose in there.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Fine. Then, on the issue of separation, stratification, and direct linkage, and because of the significance of the Protective Service and security aspects, can there be a meeting of the minds, Mr. Peck, with PBS?
Mr. PECK. I'd like to meet with you talk about it. I think there areI understand your concern. Let me say one thing. I have a concern somewhat parallel to yours, but I come to a different conclusion. I believe that the Federal Protective Service has in fact, to a large extent, not been strongly managed by the Public Building Service in the past. And I think, quite honestly, it needs to be, because the integration of how you operate a building and security functions and how you think about doing security functions is really important. And the funding, of course, comes out of the PBS budget.
So I would like to have an opportunity to tell you why I think it makes more sense to strengthen the ties within PBS.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Well, I'd be glad to meet with you, but I'd just like to say this. Whenever security can be compromised by other dynamics that exist within budgetary accounts, then the safety of our citizens is also being compromised by those same circumstances.
And I haveand let me say thisI think Mr. Peck has done a good job. He inherited some problems, there was a shortfall in the amount of money that the leases were to produce, and quite frankly, we don't see too many articles about this. He has brought around in an accelerated fashion some stability to those economic and dollar accounts. And quite frankly, though Bobsee, administrators come and administrators go, directors come and directors gomaybe, and I have no doubt, that you would probably make it much better. You see, we can't just simply rely upon that dimension.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
What is important to me is the insure that there be no compromises on security.
Mr. PECK. Well, we have the same goal there. I can assure you.
Mr. TRAFICANT. I'd be glad to meet with you. I want to have one more question. There's several 11 (B) reports that are being requested, and we'd like them to come directly to this subcommittee. I mean, if you have to give political massages to anybody else, fine, but we want them directly to this subcommittee.
Mr. PECK. I know we are in a dilemma, and I would like to work with you to solve it as well. I'd like to point out one other thing about security.
Just to show that these hearingsactually, we learn things at these hearings. Ms. Norton, at the last hearing, asked if we had talk to the FAA about risk analysis. We've done so since the hearing, andit turns out they do have a risk assessment methodology for airport security that we think may be applicable to our buildings. We are going to combine that with the work we already had underway. And it was a great idea. I don't know why we hadn't done it before. Thank you.
Mr. TRAFICANT. One last thing before I close. You alluded to the need for specific FBI facilities and because of all of the laws that exist at this particular point, you're not able to go on in what you think the most effective way to provide security for those facilities. Submit us in writing your recommendations on how to resolve that, and what it would take to do that.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. PECK. Okay.
Mr. TRAFICANT. With that, I thank you.
Mr. KIM. Ms. Norton, do you have any questions?
Ms. NORTON. I just have a couple of questions, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Peck, I note that in your testimony, you say that you completed 14 of 160 courthouses. Well, I don't think anyone in Congress will live long enough to see these courthouses begun, much less completed. And obviously, more will be added to it.
Is it your testimony that all 160 of those courthouses are absolutely necessary? I take it this means new courthouses?
Mr. PECK. Neweither new or annexes.
Ms. NORTON. How many are new and how many annexes?
Mr. PECK. I canwe'll provide that for the record. But I have to tell you, the distinction is sometimes one of it doesn't matter much. It's basically a new building tacked on to an old one. There are significant new buildings. The short answer to your question, quite honestly, is that we have taken the judiciary statement of need for the buildings at face value. That's not to say that we don'twe have lots of back and forth about how much space we need to provide in each facilitybut the question of where caseloads require new courthouses is something that we do leave to the judiciary.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
I will note some of it is space, some of it is security. There are courthouses in which you really doCleveland, for exampleyou do see prisoners coming up in the same elevators with judges, and it's an unacceptable situation. But it is basically a judiciary determination on the need for courthouses.
Ms. NORTON. ThatI must say to you that that concerns me. I would be interested at some later date in how you evaluate their ''need for a new courthouse.'' You know, Mommy, I need a new house, too. And if I knew that somebody would build it for me, if I just came forward and said so, and I told them that there after all, I'm crowding out of this and whatever, then I'd come forward too. I'm not sure that coming forward to indicate a growing caseload and the rest is, or should be, enough. Now I can understand that thereit seems to me there ought to be certain criteria that are clearbursting out of the courthouse. I'd also like to know what's going to happen to the old courthouse.
Mr. PECK. Okay, that's always an issue. We do always have plans. In most cases we continue to use the old courthouses sometimes for bankruptcy. There are only a few instances that I'm aware of so far in projects I've seen, in which, we are going to abandon the old courthouse.
But one thing I would suggest, and I don't mean to punt entirelyI mean, we do take a look as these projects come up at what facilities we have availableand the prospectuses do a pretty good job, although not an exhaustive job, of telling you why we think there's a need for the new courthousenew judges, or caseload, or the condition of the old facility, or whatever.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Ms. NORTON. Well, again, it's a number that's going to grow. And therefore, it really does seem kind of hopeless to sit here where we're talking about 14 of 160. I mean, by the time we get to the 159th, they will need yet a new courthouse from the new one they already asked for. That's why I'm reallythis is Congress is pumping money real fast into courthouses, as you indicated, but it's not going to pump it that fast.
So I'm really concerned about this is burgeoning, and I accept what the ranking member said. He's actually right. We put more jurisdictionI know that, for sure. We aren't putting more judges, and I'm not sure how more jurisdiction plays into more space. It doesn't tell me about jury trials, it doesn't tell me about how jurisdictionnew lawsdo not ergo equal need for new courthouses. It's just not how jurisdiction works.
And as you say in your testimony, this is all very complicated. And I'm not trying to make any more complicated than it is. It's just that the complications get to me when I see a figure like this, because I don't think that's anythingthat's a figure we are going to be able to meet any time soon.
I'd like to ask you about thisyou also say if everybody holdsif the parties hold to their fiscal disciplineif all parties hold to the fiscal discipline that the court benchmarking system encourages, we are confident that we can bring projects in on budget. Now you have been bringing projects in on budget, but I don't understand this if. Are there controls in place so that in fact these benchmarks are met, they're monitored, they are met? Were you hedging your bets here?
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. PECK. There are lotswe monitor the benchmarks pretty exhaustively. I think our project managers are pretty much considered a pain in the neck, as they should be, to other people in the process. But there are pressures that you almost cannot predict in advance, and I'm just saying, if we hold to them when the pressures come, we can hold to the project budgets.
Ms. NORTON. And you've been doing that? You've not have cost overruns and the like?
Mr. PECK. We have had cost overruns. I mean, we have hadlet me just note, there are cost overruns for various factors. Let me just give you the most important at the moment, something that we can't really control. And notice I'm taking responsibility from lots that I think we can control if we hold the budgets.
Inflation is pretty low at the moment, but when you look at the real estate business, there is a lot of construction going on. We are finding in a lot of locations that when we go out for bids on construction contracts for buildings, the contractors tell us, you know, I've already got all of my resources committed. I'll bid on your building, but you're going to have to pay a premium for me to take your project over some other projects.
Or, as it's been the case ina couple of times we've opened a bid, found that it's over our budget, so we go back and we work with the judges. It's not easy on either of our parts to try to figure out how much money we can squeeze out of the budget, go back out 2 months later, and find that the escalation of costs in the construction industry has gone up so much, that taking out several million dollars worth of costs in the buildingwe think sometimes to the detriment of the programwe go back out and they tell usbids come back sometimes even more than the $2 million we took out. That's tough. Those are pressures we can't avoid.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Other pressures include things near and dear to my heart, like historic preservation pressures where we thought that we had a design that made a reasonable accommodation to old buildings. Sometimes we get protests from the community that we're not doing enough, and then we all try to work out whether we can find some extra money to save more of an old building. Those things happen from time to time.
What we're trying to look at now is the aggregate in the program. There are also instances in which, as I noted, we can save money beyond our budget.
Ms. NORTON. GSA apparently has gotten the credit for advising the District of Columbia on a new convention center, where we just had a hearing yesterday to build it on a maximum price basis. If you are advising the District to do that for a convention center, why are you not doing that for courthouses?
Mr. PECK. We do that.
Ms. NORTON. Cost overruns and all the rest of it wouldn't matter, because you've negotiated a maximum price.
Mr. PECK. Well actually, there are two things we did on the convention center, which are similar to what we do on courthouse projects. One is we thought that the wayand I think our person testified yesterday in which you couch the solicitation for bids you can find out through various sources that only one bidder is coming in and there are things you can do to make sure you get more than one. And we did that on the convention center.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
The other is to ask for the construction manager to come in with a guaranteed maximum price, and we are using that on a number of our construction projects. We're testing out various forms of management to make sure that we get guarantees and that if there are cost overruns that are controlledthat are controllablethat the private sector person who came in bears that risk.
Ms. NORTON. This is very important. I guess it's an innovation. I hadn't heard about it before. But it's very important. It's an incentive for the contractor, on quality and on time, and of course he takes the risk of the maximum price if he goes over the maximum price. And I don't know whether this is proven out yet. But it certainly has appeared to work for the District. Is it widely used on courthouses?
Mr. PECK. It's
Ms. NORTON. Is it just that it's newis this why?
Mr. PECK. Construction managers have been around for awhile, and this method it's called a construction manager at riskis something that the private industry has been doing for 10 years in some cases. There are down-sides to it too. We have been talking to the judges about doing this. I will tell you this. It also provides a counter-pressure back on us not to change our minds about design very far into the construction process.
Ms. NORTON. Why in the world would you do that?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. PECK. Well.
Ms. NORTON. Change your mind aboutwhat is thisshort order house? I mean, once you've got it there, why in the world would something as big as a courthouse, you'd ''change your mind''?
Mr. PECK. Well, actually a house is a good example. I mean, you know there are lots of people who, as a house starts getting build, see something that they didn't see when they looked at the plans. Here's why I think this happens more often than notsometimes design a projectand then the design sits on the shelf for awhile while we're waiting for the budget to get approved, one way or another. When that happens, judgeships get moved, or the kind of caseload changes, or something else happens and you're into changing design.
One of the things that our project managers are very tough on is there comes a point where we call a halt. We say, you know, the change is just not worth making at this point in the process.
Ms. NORTON. Final question. You heard the testimony of the judges on security, and I know you've been working very hard on security here and elsewhere. They talked about a person not being available. That doesn't move me right off the top of my head, because one person can't be available very many places in the building anyway.
I'd like to know whether you thinkand I don't think we should go around hiring a whole bunch of new guards to sit in one place in a building, while somebody else breaks in the other sideI wonder whether you think that security by technology, or virtual security, is likely to be the way you go, or after Oklahoma City, what kind of security do you think is most likely to be both efficient, effectiveor is likely to be efficient, effective, and economical?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. PECK. Security is a very site-specific thing, and you clearly need a combination of people and technology. But you are right that there is a lot of technology available now that can, particularly in after working hours, substitute for people. Some of the sophisticated technologies, for example, and I don't think it's any secret, we are using.
Note, for example, if a vehicle is stopped for a certain determined period of time in a location where we don't want to see a vehicle stopped, we can get an alarm and bring that to somebody's attention. Because some of the problems with technology of course, you have somebody in front of a screen with 20 TV screens, it's hard for them to monitor them all. You can determine which one they look at.
There are a lot of opportunities during working hours. There's clearly the case, however, that where you open the door, you have to have somebody there to screen people coming through. We have some substitutes for that, like with card key systems, and x-rays, and all that, but you still need some people. It's not as simple as saying if there's somebody there, there's security. If there isn't somebody there isn't. That's not the case.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Peck.
Our final witness this morning is from the Department of State, Ambassador A. Peter Burleigh, Deputy Representative to the U.N. Thank you for your participation this morning. Mr. Burleigh, you can go ahead and proceed.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
TESTIMONY OF AMBASSADOR A. PETER BURLEIGH, U.S. DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE, TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ACCOMPANIED BY FRANCIS A. KIRCHOFF, GENERAL SERVICES OFFICER, U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AND VINCE CHEVORINI, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ADMINISTRATION
Mr. BURLEIGH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm happy to be here this morning. And I'd like to first of all introduce two of my colleagues who are here with me. First, Mr. Vince Chevorini, who is our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Administration, based here in Washington; and, my colleague from New York, Mr. Frank Kirchoff, who is our Acting Administrative Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Again, thank you for the opportunity to be here. I bring greetings from my boss, Bill Richardson, to all the subcommittee members and staff.
The Department of State is actively committed to the efforts of the United Nations to grapple with complex international concerns inherent in the post Cold War era. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. is a vital and visible part of this effort.
The Mission Building, which is the subject of today's hearing was built on land which was a gift from John D. Rockefeller, Junior, and it constitutes the platform we use for U.S. Government activities and is located in a prime location directly across the street from the main United Nations building, at 799 United Nations Plaza in Manhattan.
The existing U.S. Mission Building was constructed on 1/3 of an acre site in 1959. So, it is almost 40 years old. The present structure limits the net occupiable floor space. Its 39-year-old mechanical and electrical systems are in need of replacement to avoid potentially hazardous conditions. The age, the cost to maintain and repair these systems, and the lack of energy efficiency would necessitate costly replacement of the equipment in a building that no longer really serves the U.S. Government needs.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
In an effort to determine the best solution to the problem we face, the General Services Administration studied the building and our program needs. GSA determined that there was no acceptable means of renovating the structure, or adding to it, that would meet our current and future requirements.
In June 1997, GSA proposed that the existing building be demolished, and a new building be constructed on the same site, with the U.S. Mission staff temporarily relocated to nearby leased space. The new building will maximize use of the site and allowable setbacks to provide additional space, while improving the net to gross occupiable square footage by almost 30 percent.
The new Mission Building will provide increased space, an anticipated yield of 107,000 occupiable square feet, compared to the current 46,000. And that will give us desperately needed staff offices and special purpose support space for meetings, conferences, for the U.N. General Assembly, and other diplomatic functions, including visits by the President, the Vice President, the Secretaries of State, and other senior U.S. Government officials.
Due to the lack of space in the existing building, much of the existing special purpose space has been converted to office use over the years. And this has resulted in staff being displaced for meetings, and events, and for use by visiting dignitaries. In addition to meeting the U.S. Mission staff needs, the proposed building would allow us to provide consolidated office space for staff of the United States Information Agency and for the Department of State's Office of Foreign Missions, both of whom now have separate offices in Manhattan. The resulting rent savings will offset some of the increased annual charges for the new building.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
As stewards of this asset, GSA recommended the demolition of the existing building and construction of a new larger building, as I mentioned. Our desire to remain at this site is a sign of the U.S. commitment to the United Nations and a valuable symbol of our leadership in that organization.
The Department of State approved GSA's proposal and seeks your support and funding of this essential project. GSA stands ready to proceed with the A&E design of the new building in Fiscal Year 1999. We are exploring options to lease temporary space for the U.S. Mission in mid-1999, with planned occupancy in January 2000. If all funding is provided and the schedules are not changed, we would take occupancy of the new building in late 2003, or very early 2004.
We are acutely aware of the financial constraints in this budget environment, and we continually strive to be good stewards of public funds. We believe this is an appropriate time to undertake this project, and request your support of the GSA budget of approximately $55 million. The Department of State will have additional costs for this project related to construction security, above standards construction, telecommunications, and other associated modifications. Funding for these items will be requested through the State Department's normal appropriations process.
Let me close by stressing that, with the end of the Cold War, U.S. multilateral diplomacy has become more critical and more demanding than ever before, as we strive to ensure global peace. A state-of-the-art facility that provides enhanced security and telecommunications technology, as well as additional space, to accomplish our mission, is key to continued U.S. leadership in the United Nations.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to appear before the subcommittee. A closing invitation from my boss, Bill Richardson, who will be with us in New York for another couple of months, to you, Mr. Chairman, and any other members of the subcommittee, if you'd like to come to New Yorkor, if you do come to New Yorkwe invite you to come to the Mission Building for a personal tour, so we can show you why we think this project makes sense and needs to be done now.
Thank you very much.
Mr. KIM. Thank you very much for the fine presentation.
Mr. Traficant, do you have any questions?
Mr. TRAFICANT. Yes, you know it's highly unusual that we get someone here speaking on a specific proposal like this. By the nature of the building, we could understand that. But from what I understand, the State Department is for it, the President is for it, GSA is for it, PBS is for it, everybody wants it; the question I have, is it needed? And Bob Peck, I guess, reviewed this matter, and he strongly supports the project on it's merits and needs to demolish the old and build the new, which would happen, from what I understand, one sort of apartment in it for the ambassador who might be stranded over there on some problem, so him not having to go to a hotel. Is that correct? Is that about itthe one apartment?
Mr. BURLEIGH. One apartment, at the top of the building, as it's currently planned. It would either be for my successorone of our permanent ambassadorial staff would be there.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. TRAFICANT. On top of the building?
Mr. BURLEIGH. Yes. Not for me. Not during my tenure, I hasten to add.
Mr. TRAFICANT. You know, there's something about basements.
I never heard of anybody committing suicide by jumping out of a basement window.
But you know, in all seriousness here, I think in looking at it, I think you have 47,000 square feet now, and they're asking for 117,000 square feet, and GSA is very strong behind the project, and the merits are immediate. Thank you.
Mr. KIM. Thank you. I do have some questions, perhaps some concerns. This building I think is an excellent ideato demolish it and build a new one. It costs about $4 million to demolish, and then $49 million to build it, and $9 million to leaseinterim leasealtogether costs about $63 million. That's fine. I support. But I understand the ambassador himself also leased a space from another apartment. How much is thatleasing that?
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. BURLEIGH. Our ambassador, our chief ambassador, called the permanent representative, who is Bill Richardson now, has an apartment now, as has been the case with his predecessors for many years in the Waldorf Astoria Towers.
Mr. KIM. Waldorf Astoria Towershow much are you paying for that?
Mr. BURLEIGH. That, I believe, is $330,000 a year rent for that apartment.
Mr. KIM. For $338,000 a year rent. I understand you plan to expand itdoubling it?
Mr. BURLEIGH. There has been a recommendation by the State Department Inspector General Office that the space needs to be increased for representational purposes. That the current square footage, which is about 2,400excuse me, about 4,000 square feetis inadequate for the large receptions that our permanent representatives sometimes holdsactually, frequently holdsespecially in the fall. Their original suggestion was for a substantially increased square footage that would be available for that residence for our permanent representative.
Mr. KIM. But, I agree, I think we need a bigger space. But we are paying $340,000 a year just renting this Astoria apartment, eventually doubling it, which means almost $700,000 a year just renting it. My idea is are there any ways you can expand this buildingperhaps construct a penthouseusing that a resident for the ambassador, instead of spending $74 million and then adding another $700,000 a year just for renting an adjacent apartment. Makes no sense to me. Are there any ways you build a penthouse8,000 square foot penthousewe can add in more spaces, instead of continue renting?
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. BURLEIGH. We looked into that in the preparations for these current plans and maybe I can ask one of my colleagues if we have a specific question.
Mr. KIM. Sure.
Mr. BURLEIGH. There is an apartment program for the top of this building now, which would be for my successor, the number two of our staff.
Mr. KIM. I understand that. You're going to be occupying one floor, but my question is, can they add in one more penthouse for the ambassador himselfthe chief ambassador?
Mr. KIRCHOFF. We've had a lot of talk about that. Our whole housing program is in excess of $1 million per annum. There are 18 foreign service officers who are eligible for the housing, plus the ambassador. There's always been controversyabout us buying real estate in Manhattan. There have been some proposals passed that a building donated to the United States Government for use of housing for some individuals.
I'm particularly involved with the running of the Waldorf Astoria houseapartment. What we get for that $300,000, in addition to the obvious 4,000 square feet, we get maid service, we get typical hotel services, many of our representational events are put on at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel are very much enhanced by the extremely high level of support that we get from the hotel itself. They provide maid service, they provide all of the renovations.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I would have towe even looked at a building that was going to be donated to the Government that was worth approximately $30 million, but it had been completely renovated, all new systems, the person even had a 1,500-gallon water supply. It's tough to accept a situation like that. For us to do those kind of real estate services would be a tremendous increase in cost to the Government. We'd have to contract for electricians, carpenters, plumbers, what-not.
Recently, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, as they had a renovation of the roofit's been the whole building of coursethat was an expense that we did not have to incur. They also provide many of the furnishings. Although it does sound highwhen I first came to the Mission and I thought $300,000 was quite excessive. After I was there for awhile, I realized all the benefits we accrued from that, not to mention the diplomatic locationa very good central location, many foreign dignitaries stay at the Waldorf, as well, as the President, and Secretary of State.
Mr. KIM. I think my point is that spending $340,000 a year just for renting, yet we spend $74 million to build a brand new building. Now you're going to expand this renting, doubling it, end up $700,000 a year renting continually, while we're having this brand new building. I'm not saying we should allocate one floor to the ambassador. What I'm saying is, can you add one more floor on the top of the building, as a real nice looking penthouse, and dedicate it to the ambassador, so we can eliminate this additional $600,000 -$700,000 a year renting.
I don't know how much it costs to maintain and all these janitorial services, I think it's built in anyway just adding a little more cost, you can have just as conservative as any other apartment. It just doesn't make any sense to me why we'd do that. Why do we expand in one area, rentingdoubling ityet, we're spending another $70 million to build a brand new building. Why can't you add one more? Have you looked at that?
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. BURLEIGH. We have, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. Is it physically impossible, or what is it?
Mr. BURLEIGH. If it's agreeable with you, I'd like to send you a letter which lists what we've done in the past, demonstrates and documents what we've done in terms of looking at pros and cons on this very question. Because it's been looked at for several years by different entities of the Federal Government. And I'd like to share that information with you.
Mr. KIM. Sure.
Mr. BURLEIGH. And maybe we can continue this.
Mr. KIM. Is it physically impossible to add one more penthouse for the ambassador himself, or is thatjust cannot be done?
Mr. TRAFICANT. Will the chairman yield?
Mr. KIM. More than happy to, Mr. Traficant.
Mr. TRAFICANT. You know, I concur at this point with the chairman's line of questioning. Now unless we're putting on a particular, demonstrable type of show of America's ambassador in hosting in such an elegant facility in all of this, there seems to me that at some pointknock on wood, perhapsthere's not been a security problem in an unrelated facility, which is what, about 4,000 square feet? Now we are going to be building a brand new facility, and I think the choice of terms that the chairman used as penthouse are appropriate. You know, I think it's a reasonable question. Is there some rationale because of protocol, and propriety, and the expression of grandiose receptions to dignitaries, that would negate some practical application of dollars to the matter?
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
And I think this committee should require on paper some analysis from the ambassador and all of those other dynamics we discussed, and from GSA , and PBS, relative to how that could be all accomplished. Because, certainly there could be Taj Mahal built there, while we're exposed to $700,000 a year.
Mr. KIM. If you look at this renderingit's a bunch of, what, 13 floorsthe surrounding building has what60, 70 story buildingthis is a very low profile building. Adding one more floor, a penthouse, I think enhanced the entire neighboring area even. This is an awfully short building, compared to other buildings surrounding it. So what's wrong adding one more penthouse for the ambassador himself, instead of continuing paying $700,000 in renting an Astoria apartment? Would you look at that and get back to me.
Mr. BURLEIGH. Yes, I'm happy to, Mr. Chairman. And we'll give you cost analyses of these various options and any other considerations of protocol and other things that are important to us.
Mr. KIM. Are there any other further questions? Mr. Traficant.
Mr. TRAFICANT. Here is the statement. That's a lot of money in a high-rent area of New York, and I believe some justification should be made for it. If there's a matter of international reception of dignitaries, etcetera, etcetera, but I'm concerned at some point, even though we've never dealt with it, for security as well. I think it would be easier to secure the one facility. And from what I understand the ambassador's not there every night, and only when he's in town, would have it. I think that Mr. Kim's suggestions make some sense.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. KIM. I understand he's there maybe 3 months a year, and paying this kind of rent for such a luxury apartment just doesn't make any sense to me. We can have a real fancy penthouse with an absolute security system set up. We can entertain as many guests you want. And I think it makes sense just adding another million, than paying $700,000 a year forever on another apartment.
Mr. BURLEIGH. We'll get back to you on that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KIM. Yes, I appreciate that.
Mr. BURLEIGH. But I do want to make the point that Ambassador Richardson and our ambassadors are there 12 months a year. We all live there, including Ambassador Richardson. So it's an around the year occupancy.
Mr. KIM. But the information I have is that he's normally not thereat maximum 3 months a year. Even though he's there full time every day, still, since you're building a brand new building, why not do that. Anyway, thank you very much for your fine presentation.
If there are no further questions, the subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:06 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 [Insert here.]