Segment 2 Of 2     Previous Hearing Segment(1)

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Thursday, March 23, 2000
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, Hazardous Materials and Pipeline Transportation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.,

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a.m., in Room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bob Franks [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

    Mr. FRANKS. Good morning. The subcommittee will come to order. I wish to welcome the members of the subcommittee to the hearing this morning on GSA's FY 2001 Capital Investment Program.
    I would like to note we will not be hearing from the administration this morning. I am hopeful that we can work out a date in April for a second day of hearings in order that GSA, OMB, and GAO will be able to offer their testimony.
    GSA is requesting $779 million in new authority to acquire sites, design or to construct 19 Federal buildings, United States Courthouses and border stations nationwide. $488 million is for new courthouse construction projects. We will hear from several members as well as judges who have an interest in these projects. The administration is also requesting $721 million for the repair and alteration program, of which $30 million is for the National Glass Fragmentation Program.
    We are departing from our usual protocol today by having as our first witness Ms. Aren Almon-Kok. Ms. Almon-Kok is the mother of a one-year-old who was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Aren's daughter Baylee was an innocent victim of this senseless act of domestic terrorism. Aren is here today and will be presenting testimony on the hazards of flying glass and the need for greater national awareness of such hazards.
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    My colleagues from the House will also provide testimony on the need for GSA's capital investment program to include funding for courthouses on the Judicial Conference's 5-year priority list. There are currently 19 courthouse projects that were slated to receive funding in the FY 2001 budget, and only six received funding requests. Projects in Erie, Buffalo and Fresno, to name a few, were not included in the administration's budget request.
    Judge Roth, head of the Judicial Conference on Facilities, will present testimony on the need for full funding for the projects included in the FY 2001 request, consistent with the United States Courts Design Guide and the importance of funding the full courthouse construction program, not just six of 19 projects.
    Judge Roth is accompanied by Judge Hatter from Los Angeles, Judge Davis from Miami, Judge Conway from New Mexico and Judge Edwards from the District of Columbia. Judge Skretny from Buffalo is also with us today, and he will be appearing with Congressmen Quinn and LaFalce. Our final witness today will be Richard Rockwell. He will be providing testimony on the intricacies and difficulties of dealing with GSA contract security guard placement protecting our Federal buildings.
    Before we begin, I would like to recognize Mr. Shows for a statement.
    Mr. SHOWS. Thank you, Chairman Franks.
    I have just a brief statement regarding the General Services Administrative capital improvement program for FY 2001. As has been the practice in the past, the subcommittee will review the administration's request for courthouse funding and will consider authorizing funds for many needed projects. The FY 2001 request for several projects is below what was originally budgeted, and therefore, many of our colleagues are with us this morning to urge consideration for the full project request.
    The agenda at today's hearings includes many of our colleagues who are concerned about the level of funding for certain projects. In addition, several judges have come to this hearing to voice their concerns about the OMB formula regarding sharing of courtrooms. The application of this formula has had an impact on funding for several projects. As you are all aware, the idea of courtroom sharing is one in which this committee has taken a special interest for almost 10 years.
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    We have made some progress by working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to develop a policy that addresses sharing courtrooms among senior judges. It is my understanding that OMB, on its own initiative, has taken a notion of sharing one step further and devised a formula to institute sharing among all judges. I look forward to the hearing from the judges and welcome all witnesses there this morning.
    Thank you, Mr. Franks.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you, Mr. Shows.
    I am now delighted to welcome our first witness to the hearing, Aren Almon-Kok. Aren has had to live through a parent's worst nightmare, but she has turned that tragedy into a personal crusade to help protect all of America's children. I was with Aren yesterday at a ceremony at a child care center in Northeast Washington. I want to tell you that in getting to know her, I know you will all be interested in what she has to say and proud of the commitment that she is making.
    Aren, I am delighted you are with us today, and I thank you on behalf of all members of the committee for bringing this important matter to our attention and providing such leadership to help us resolve this issue. Welcome.

    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Thank you. I want to start off by thanking you for allowing me to be here today on behalf of the Protecting People First Foundation and the citizens of this great nation. Since yesterday at our foundation kickoff, we have had several different people call into our Website and say that they wanted to help, and it has been great, and I think that the people of this nation are going to be very proud of what I am trying to accomplish and that the Protecting People First Foundation stands for.
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    I want to start off by thanking Congressman Franks for letting all the help that you have given us and everything that we stand for, that you believe in us, and I want to thank you for that and thank your staff. I also want to thank Congressman Bud Shuster and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. She has been a great deal of help. We have both had terrible losses in our lives, and we are both trying to make a difference, so we have a great bond.
    I also want to thank some of the foundation supporters: Richard Eannarino and Bill Gilbane of Guardian Bastill; Calvin Hill of International Window Film Association; Bob Conley of Madico; Greg Wilson of Solutia; Bill Britcher; he is a board member of the Protecting People First Foundation. Also, Southwest Airlines is one of our big contributors. They have donated the way for us to be able to come up here and speak our mind and go all over the world to be able to spread the awareness to the effects of flying glass.
    When my daughter, Baylee, she died the day after her first birthday in one of the worst acts of terrorism on American soil, so I am here on behalf of her and 167 other victims who lost their lives and thousands of people who have been cut severely by flying glass, not just in the Oklahoma City bombing but also in natural disasters all over the world: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and I just want to make a difference for all of them. All of our children, our children's children, that is what the Protecting People First Foundation is all about.
    I want to make the image of Chris, Firefighter Chris Fields and my daughter a symbol of safety, not of tragedy. I have lived with that picture for the last 5 years, and it has been very painful for me, and I am hoping that this committee and Congress can help make a difference and help people when they see that symbol, think of safety instead of tragedy.
    Through my involvement in the Protecting People First Foundation, I have come to realize that there are safety measures that can be taken on windows, and flying glass is such a dangerous thing. We use glass every day in our windows, and everywhere we go, there is something glass, and it is our friend, but it is also very deadly, and we can make it more user-friendly by just taking extra safety precautions, and that is what we are here today to talk about.
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    On the day of the bombing, almost 5 years ago, I went down in search of my daughter in the day care center, and one of my most vivid memories is being there with glass everywhere. I remember feeling as if I were in a war zone. There was glass blanketing the streets; people walking around with blood pouring from the top of their heads. It was a horrible memory that I cannot seem to forget. And when I came on with the Protecting People First Foundation, I realized that there are measures that we can take that would have saved a lot of those people from being maimed for the rest of their lives, and I believe it was senseless that this window film or protective coating or laminated glass was not in place, and I believe that we need to work as hard as we can to try to push the awareness of flying glass and also that when the money is appropriated for things like this, that it needs to be spent on that.
    I know sometimes things come up, but our lives and our children's lives and their children's lives and the lives of people who go in and out of Federal buildings every day, not because they want to but because they have to, their lives should be worth the safety that we should provide for them.
    Last year, GSA requested $30 million from Congress to continue efforts to improve window safety. Regrettably, they received less than a third of that amount, and I want to change that today. This is the first step in many steps, I hope, to bring the awareness so effective that people, patrons who go in and out of buildings, I want them to kind of take notice of the windows, to see if they are protected. The awareness that we want to bring to the American public is so vital to the safety of our children, and not even my children but my daughter's children.
    I am doing this on behalf of everybody that ever goes in a Federal building, and that is everybody at least once in their life. And it is very important that we get the message out there that this is definitely one of the deadly things about living in the world at all, because everywhere we go, there are windows, and everywhere we go, we need to be aware of our surroundings.
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    And as I said, not just—I do not want to bring this awareness just to the effects of flying glass just for bombings. Hopefully, that will never happen again, hopefully, but we need to be aware—I live in Oklahoma City. We have horrible tornadoes. We had an F5 tornado come through May 3 last year, and it did a lot of destruction. And in California, they have a lot of earthquakes. Florida, they have a lot of hurricanes. We need to bring this awareness to people that they think that they are safe because one thing, this will never happen to them. I said that, too.
    And also, the fact that they think, well, they are not going to have a bombing. We thought that in Oklahoma City would be one of the last places to ever have a bombing, so it was of such a magnitude that it killed so many people and ruined so many lives. Everyone in Oklahoma was devastated by the bombing, even if they did not know someone, but it seemed like everybody knew somebody in there, so that is what we want to do is be able to bring this awareness that glass kills people. It is our friend, and we do use it all the time, but it can kill you, and that is what—the awareness that we want to bring.
    The Protecting People First Foundation is wanting—we have an award that we want to give to people that take this extra step, and that is one of our steps in the process. We want to make sure that people are taking that extra step, and if they do, we want to give them an award and recognize them for being so conscious of their patrons and of their employees that they want to take that extra step, and that is what we want to do is be able to give the awards to them, to thank them for being so good and so nice to the people who come in and out of their buildings every day.
    Usually, when you go into a building, you have business in there. So it is usually not something that you want to do; it is something that you have to do. And in Federal buildings, that is usually the case. People go in there for Social Security cards; they go in there—my daughter was in the day care center. There are day care centers in every Federal building, just about, 110 day care centers in facilities in Federal buildings. We need to make sure those children are safe. They are innocent. Everyone in the Oklahoma City bombing was an innocent victim. Everyone was somebody's child. Everyone was loved by somebody. And that is why I want to stand up for all of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and victims of the people who were cut, not only in Oklahoma City but anytime that it could have been prevented, and this is something that could be prevented, and that is what I am hoping to do here today is urge you to please put yourself in my shoes.
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    I lost my daughter. People lose people all the time, and if it is something that can be helped, I think it is something that we should do to make a difference.
    Mr. FRANKS. Aren, thank you very much.
    Let me ask, if I might, prior to the bombing 5 years ago, when you considered where to put Baylee into a day care facility, what concerns did you have about her safety in that it was a Federal building? Did it have any suggestion that it would be more safe? Less safe? Did you see anything when you went to visit it that brought up any impression in your mind?
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. I started looking for a day care center when I was still pregnant with Baylee, and I had her on the list for the Federal Building since I was 6 months pregnant with her. It was a hard day care to get your children into, because it was a good day care. And I thought, being in a Federal building, she would be in the safest possible place. Schools have bomb threats. Buildings have bomb threats all the time. That was not one of my main issues. I thought she would be safe from any act that would follow a bomb threat. I knew that being in a building with officials like that that she would be safe.
    Mr. FRANKS. Were you told what other tenants were in the building with the day care center before you enrolled?
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. No, we were not told; I know the ATF now. I know the ATF was in there; the FBI. We were not told that, and we were also not told that there were bomb threats in the months before. They did not want the attendance in the day care center to drop, and I thought that should have been my decision. And also, they should have posted on the door that that was a high-risk Federal building and that you could be in danger. But that was not the case. They had one security guard, and he was not in front of the building that morning, but there was one security guard who covered three buildings in Oklahoma City, and he was not there that morning. He was in front of another building. He was doing his job, but we needed more, more security.
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    We could pull up in front of that building on any given day and leave our cars sitting there and running and drop our children off at the day care center anytime. Underneath the building in the parking garage or in front of the building on the street, it was not something that—of course, they said not to, but they never enforced it, and that is why I was not surprised when he was able to park there, walk off and leave that car sitting there.
    Mr. FRANKS. Tell us about some of the early activities that the foundation has been involved in and how you are establishing it to carry out some of the programs that you have mentioned today.
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Over the last year, the foundation has been busy trying to get contacts and get with people to try to get some support for the foundation and for our message. Over the last months, when I tell people about the foundation and what we are trying to do, nobody even realizes that glass is so deadly. Of course, you break your window, and you get cut, and you think oh, but you never stop to think that shattered, then, it would kill me; it would blind me, my eyes. And so, that is what the foundation has been doing is trying to get the awareness out there.
    And we have been—we went, retrofitted a day care center with safety precautions, a day care center that probably would not have been able to afford to have these safety precautions done. We did that yesterday and did the kickoff of our foundation, as you know; you were there. But we have been working real hard to try to push safety measures for children and not just laminate glass or the coating on the glass; it was bolting the bookshelves to the wall, things like that that you do not always think of, but children are not supposed to climb on bookshelves, but they still will anyway.
    So we wanted a safer environment, and we gave our first award to them yesterday, because they took that extra step to make sure their children were safe.
    Mr. FRANKS. Did you ask any Government officials about their responsibility advising parents about potential threats to those buildings?
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    Ms. ALMON-KOK. We were told they did not have to tell us because—in fact, the way we found out that there were even bomb threats that we were not told about was after the bombing. A gentleman, his wife was killed, as well as their son in that day care center, told us that he—that they had had bomb threats, and then, once we kind of confronted them with it, he kind of took the offensive, of course, because he thought that we were blaming his wife. But we were told that we did not—they did not have to tell us, because they did not want the attendance in the day care center to drop.
    And we asked about that, and they said that there were bomb threats all the time but something that would not be taken serious, and I do not know how they make the difference between something that they would take serious and something that they would not, but that should have been the decision of the people going into that building, whether they wanted to take their lives into their own hands, and come to find out April 19 is a big day for militias, and we were not told that either, and the FBI did know that this was a big day. Apparently, Waco was this day.
    There were several things that fall on April 19. It is a big day for anti-Government groups, and we did not find this out until afterwards, either, and if I had known that, my daughter would not have been there that day, because that is a high risk day, and I had no idea, and I certainly would not have taken her to a day care center in a Federal building no matter where that Federal building would have stood.
    Mr. FRANKS. Have you had any conversations with GSA that would suggest that they are interested in working with you and with the foundation to help improve safety and security at child care facilities in Federal buildings?
    Mr. COTE. Congressman, if I can help Aren in answering that question, we have been in touch with the General Services Administration, and in our conversations with them, we have asked for updates on the status of the retrofit of child care centers in Federal buildings, and we were advised recently that at the present time, approximately 25 percent of the child care centers in Federal buildings have had window safety retrofits since the bombing.
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    It is our understanding that after the bombing, President Clinton ordered safety film on the windows of high risk Federal buildings based on the Department of Justice classification for security risks and that at the time, the General Services Administration took that a step further and launched an effort to install window safety measures in the child care centers, and again, as of recently, we were advised that only 25 percent of those child care centers have received that safety enhancement.
    Mr. FRANKS. Aren, I want to tell you that after our very first visit, it prompted me to take an interest in the House of Representatives' child care center, the one over which we have more immediate jurisdiction, which is made available, as you know, not just for members but for staff and everyone who works in this institution, and I will tell you that I was pleased to discover, and there were some folks from Protecting People First touring that facility with us, that is the safety standard that I hope every child care center in America can meet.
    It is nice that it is available to the folks who can place their children in the House of Representatives child care center, but we need to make that very same level of security available to children throughout America who are temporarily housed within these child care placement centers in Federal buildings.
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Sure.
    Mr. FRANKS. And we are already beginning, as a subcommittee, to take a look at these issues, and again, you are largely responsible for that. I can presume that—Dr. Cooksey, do you have any questions for Aren?
    Mr. COOKSEY. Just a brief comment. We do appreciate your being here today, and it is—again, you suffered a great tragedy, and all of our hearts go out to you for this tragedy that occurred. The glass is a problem. I am an eye surgeon and do not consider myself a real politician. I used to work in Kenya, in East Africa, in a church hospital back several years ago. But when they had the bombing there at the embassy, there was an initial small bomb that went off. And the people there in Nairobi ran to the window to see what it was, and when the big explosion went off, they had glass injuries, and a lot of people who were not fatally injured had eye injuries, because that is the most vulnerable part of the human body to injuries. Unfortunately, in Kenya, a lot of those people, thought that they would get better, but they did not, and when they did show up and seek out eye care a couple of days later, they already had infections, and they ended up blind.
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    So there were a lot of people who were blinded in Nairobi, in Kenya from this very cause that you are here about today, it is a real problem; it is a real cause; it is the greatest threat in a bombing situation.
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Sure.
    Mr. COOKSEY. Unfortunately, in a country that has as much freedom as we have and democracy, there is still freedom to be a sociopath, to be a psychopath, to be crazy, to be paranoid, and I wish I could tell you that we could put all those people away and lock them up before they do something dumb and crazy, but there are going to continue to be psychopaths and sociopaths and paranoids, and in the meantime, the only thing I can pledge is that we will do everything to make every public building safe, and I think that your foundation, your message, is a very important message, and hopefully, we will do everything we can to make every private building safe, and of course, one of the ways to do that is to identify these crazy people and take them off the street, and I think that is a very viable option.
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Sure; and we live in the United States of America, and we are allowed free speech, which allows me to be here today, but they are, too, and that is why we just need to protect ourselves against them and try to get them put away, like you said, as soon as possible but also protect ourselves in the process. There is always going to be somebody, and whether it be man-made or natural disaster, we definitely need to protect ourselves. We cannot protect against ourselves against Mother Nature, so that is what we need to do is protect ourselves against glass.
    Mr. COOKSEY. Absolutely; it is a good cause, and we thank you for being here today.
    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Thank you very much.
    Mr. FRANKS. Aren, again, on behalf of all of the members of the subcommittee, indeed, the members of the Congress itself, I want to thank you for providing the leadership that you have to create this foundation, to increase public awareness and, most importantly, to take the kinds of common sense steps that are necessary to better protect America's most precious resource, and I thank you very much for joining us.
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    Ms. ALMON-KOK. Thank you for having me.
    Mr. FRANKS. We have a vote on the floor right now, and I think that we will recess for 10 minutes while we scurry over to cast our votes, and we will then reconvene.
    Mr. FRANKS. The meeting will please come to order.
    I would now like to recognize several Members of Congress who would like to offer up testimony concerning the GSA's FY 2001 capital investment program. I am delighted to be able to welcome a number of my colleagues. I will do that in the order in which they have appeared at the witness table. Let me first introduce, from Pennsylvania's 21st Congressional District our friend and colleague the Honorable Phil English.

    Mr. ENGLISH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to testify with regard to a project that is of enormous importance not only to my district but also to the administration of justice throughout northwestern Pennsylvania. I appreciate the opportunity to ask for your support to include authorization of the Erie Federal Courthouse construction project as part of your efforts.
    The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has included the construction of the Erie Federal Complex in its request for FY 2001. The latest estimate I have received from the GSA states that construction of this project will cost $27 million, not a large project by these standards. After verification of this figure, I respectfully request that authorization be granted for this amount.
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    This project is longstanding. It has appeared on GSA's priority lists since the plans were first unveiled in 1993. The site and design phase of the project, including property acquisition, has already been accomplished with $3.3 million allocated in 1996. This project is ready to contract bids for construction, and without revisiting the history of this project, which I will leave to the testimony that I will submit here, let me make three points that are critical:
    First, this project has a huge impact on the downtown of the city of Erie. This is the anchor of future development in Erie's downtown. It is also a major historic preservation initiative in the downtown. Mayor Joyce Savocchio, who has testified before Congress in the past on this point, has made this her top Federal priority.
    Second of all, because of the extremely poor security situation in the existing Federal courthouse complex, we have seen a scattering of Federal offices throughout the district. As a result, the Federal Government pays large rental expenses which could be recaptured, by consolidation within the Federal Courthouse. The cost of this project going forward is less substantial than the cost of continuing to have a dispersion of Federal offices in Erie's downtown.
    And third, to reemphasize the point, unlike many of the other projects you have heard about, we are good go to on this. We are ready to go, and we are ready to break ground as soon as the money is available.
    Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to make our case before you. We think that this is a project which should be prioritized even beyond the level of prioritization it has already received from the Federal system, and let me submit the rest of my testimony for the record and encourage you to consider this project as probably one of the best investments that your subcommittee could make this time.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. English, thank you very much for your testimony. We will certainly take it into account, and you make a compelling presentation on behalf of this particular project.
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    Let me ask if all of the members who are appearing today, I will be directing staff to submit to them a questionnaire containing only about six questions, and to help us beef up our record, I would appreciate it if the Members would respond to those questions in a timely fashion.
    Mr. English, thank you very much for coming forward today and offering your testimony.
    Mr. ENGLISH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I am now delighted to welcome the Hon. Bob Clement from the Fifth District in Tennessee.
    Mr. Clement?
    Mr. CLEMENT. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity always to testify before my committee that I have served on ever since I have been a Member of Congress, and this is the committee I wanted to serve on. I have had other opportunities to go elsewhere, but I have not.
    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify so I can discuss the critical needs for a new courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee. Although not included in the President's fiscal year 2001 budget submission to Congress, Nashville has been identified in the judiciary's 5-year courthouse plan for site acquisition and design for a new courthouse. The judiciary branch has identified the Nashville courthouse as one of its nationwide priorities. This committee and Congress must do all possible to assist neglected courtrooms across the country.
    In a moment, I will detail some of the specific structural and functional problems facing the Nashville courthouse. Built in 1952, the Estes Kefauver Federal Building is truly showing its age. I know this for a fact. My Nashville Congressional District office is located in this building. I spend a good amount of my time in the Federal Building, and I have a staff that works in the Kefauver Building serving the people of Tennessee's Fifth Congressional District and those throughout the State of Tennessee.
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    Indeed, it is a building that serves a tremendous purpose in Nashville. In addition to the courts, many of the Federal agencies are housed in this building. The current funding need for site and design for the Nashville courthouse is $13.7 million. The new building would include the new U.S. District Court, the circuit library, the U.S. Probation Office, U.S. Marshal's Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
    Following the construction of the facility, the Bankruptcy Court will relocate from leased space to the existing courthouse facility, and I might say to you we have leased space all over the area, and it really is a cost to the taxpayers, and that is one of the reasons why this building is so vitally important to this country and to Tennessee.
    Timing is of the essence, and I am very concerned that with too much delay, this project could be seriously jeopardized. Due to the continuing development in the area surrounding the courthouses, the location of a suitable site will become increasingly difficult and costly as long and the longer we delay this project. Simply put, it is going to get very hard to find available, affordable property for site location and acquisition. For example, Senator Bill Frist, his family, has put up a substantial amount of money for the Frist Arts Center, which is located next to the Kefauver Building at present, and it is going to be a first-class arts center.
    Also, the regional mass transit terminal that I worked so diligently for for so many years is located in this Railroad Gulch area as well, so this area, which has been a real bad spot in the area, is not anymore. It is changing rapidly. We as taxpayers and those of us who serve on this committee know that you have got to move when the opportunity presents itself, and the opportunity is now.
    Mr. Chairman, I certainly recognize the budgetary constraints we face, but as a nation of laws, we must ensure that our courts have the Federal funding they need to effectively carry out their responsibilities and to execute the law. Right now, in Nashville, the courts are operating in substandard conditions. I hope through the wisdom of this subcommittee, we can rectify the shortcomings of the administration's budget and forward a proposal that adequately addresses the critical needs for our nation's courthouses.
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    In closing, I ask for your support for Federal funds and authorization for a new Federal courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, that some of us call Country Music, U.S.A.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you very much for coming forward today and stating an effective case.
    Let me now recognize our colleague from California's 19th Congress District, the Honorable George Radanovich.
    Mr. RADANOVICH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, likewise, it is a pleasure to be here before the committee today with, surprisingly, a request for courthouse funding.
    I am here to urge that the funding be authorized for the construction of the new Federal courthouse in Fresno, California. This courthouse, which serves the Eastern District of California and is in my Congressional District has the support of all interested parties. It is on the Federal judiciary's FY 2001 list of priority projects. Its design has garnered strong approval from the General Services Administration, and the City of Fresno has contracted to donate the site for the new facility.
    Fresno has also agreed to build a 500-car parking structure and a park near the site. In appropriating funds for FY 1997, Congress allocated $5 million for the site and design of the Fresno courthouse. There has been, unfortunately, a lag in funding since. This year was the first time since FY 1997 that the President requested money for the courthouses. During the three-year absence of administration requests, there was only one year that Congress provided such funding. This lag has put the judiciary behind schedule and consequently placed the timely construction of the Fresno courthouse in jeopardy.
    Delays in this project would be harmful, as the current courthouse is not a suitable facility. The structure was designed as an office building and does not foster the operations of a Federal courthouse. Citizens and Federal judges are forced to share public areas with prisoners. Holding cells that were built for two prisoners sometimes hold up to a dozen. Court-related agencies are scattered throughout the building with, for example, the clerk's office occupying a space on four floors and a basement.
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    Five of the courtrooms were converted from office space and have visual and acoustical problems. The building has failed all seismic evaluation, and a seismic retrofit would cost more than the building is worth. In addition, the courthouse is not up to code in fire safety. The Eastern District is expected to be home to roughly 20 percent of California's population within the next decade. It is the eighth-fastest growing district in the United States in caseloads; is among the highest in the United States in weighted filings, with about 800 per judgeship, and has the 11th worst crime rate among 94 districts.
    The current courthouse simply cannot satisfy the needs of a region with this much activity, making any delay in the construction of the new courthouse a true detriment to the administration of justice in my State of California.
    Mr. Chairman, as the fifth-largest city in the State of California, Fresno has a great deal of potential. It struggles economically, however, because commerce in Fresno is based mostly on agriculture. This, combined with the lack of beautification of the downtown area, has kept development and job creation nearly stagnant and made for an unstable and nondiversified labor market. The result is an unemployment rate in the Fresno Metropolitan Area often ranging up to 17 percent.
    I have seen the design of the new courthouse, and I can tell you that this building will be a cornerstone of renewal in a depressed downtown Fresno. It has been thoughtfully designed in anticipation of economic expansion and commercial development and, unlike the current courthouse, will be a Federal presence worthy of the administration. Such a landmark is sure to attract new business and improve the job market.
    Mr. Chairman, there is too much at stake for us not to fund this crucial project. I therefore respectfully urge that you authorize $112 million for FY 2001 for the construction of a new Federal courthouse in Fresno, California.
    Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for this hearing.
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    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Radanovich, thank you very much for coming forward to state your case as well. We appreciate the effort that is gone into you folks making a priority of attending on behalf of advocating these important facilities for the administration of justice.
    I have no questions of these—there are none from the members. I again appreciate the fact that all of you took time this morning to come by and state your case with us. Thank you.
    Members are obviously struggling to get here. What I would like to do is begin to hear some testimony from the judges who have joined us who have been patiently sitting like would-be jurors waiting to take their seats at the witness table. I know that Members are going to be coming in over the course of the next 30 to 40 minutes, but I would like to come in with hearing some testimony from the judges.
    But before I do that, I see our first member has just walked in the door. I am delighted to see our colleague, the Honorable Richard Neal from the Second Congressional District in Massachusetts.
    Mr. Neal, welcome to the committee. Thank you for making the effort to attend this morning.
    Mr. NEAL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Should I proceed?
    I thank you for the promptness with which you welcomed me. This is unusual. You walk in, and you sit down, and you get to testify on a virtuous project.
    Mr. Chairman, thank you for providing me the opportunity to testify before the subcommittee today. The project that I am seeking authorization for is the Springfield Federal Courthouse, located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The total cost of this courthouse, as estimated by the General Services Administration, is approximately $47 million. There are many reasons why the GSA has listed the construction of the Springfield Federal Courthouse on the courts' 5-year plan as one of its priority projects nationally.
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    The current facility in which the Springfield Federal courts reside today has been deemed by GSA to be too small to meet the demands of the Federal legal system. The GSA has determined that there is no possibility of expansion at the present site. Aside from the size issue, however, there are safety concerns that exist at the present facility that make the need for this new Federal courthouse even more real.
    Prisoners are brought to the Springfield courthouse today, and once they arrive, they share hallways and elevators with the general public. Cases heard in the Springfield Federal courts often involve gang-related activity, and many of its prisoners who are brought into the building are again potentially quite dangerous. Rival gang members, family members of victims and alleged criminals currently all use the same, shared passageways.
    To compound this safety problem, the general public flows regularly through the doors of the current Springfield Federal Building. The facility is also home to a Social Security office, a Department of Veterans Affairs office, my Congressional District office and a recruiting office for the military. Regional officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are also housed within the building. And finally, there is the issue of the location of the judges' chambers, which should be some of the most secure office space in the entire building.
    These offices are currently housed in a location that is level and very near a public parking garage. There has been an instance when gunshots were fired into the windows of the judges' chambers. For all of these reasons, it is clear that the need for the new courthouse in Springfield is more than legitimate.
    Now, let me update you briefly on the status of this project to date. In fiscal year 1999, $5.6 million was appropriated for the site acquisition and design of the Springfield Federal Courthouse. An environmental impact statement for the preferred site is in progress, and site acquisition is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of fiscal year 2001. The phases to next be completed in this project are construction, management and inspection, with a total estimated cost of phases equalling about $40 million.
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    I am working closely with the GSA and the appropriators to keep everyone abreast of the timetable of this phase of the project. It is my hope that the subcommittee will give full authorization for the project cost of $47 million for the Springfield Federal Courthouse. It has been quite well received by its neighbors. It is in a historic setting, and I must say that I think when the Federal Government offers a Federal courthouse size, it is indeed a statement of the respect that we hold for the Federal judiciary, the result of which is that these buildings, I think, should be tastefully constructed, and in this instance, I intend to ensure, based upon the conversations that we have had with the architect and GSA, that we are all of the same mind, and I must tell you that the work of the GSA to this date has been exemplary, and we have a strong relationship. The architect was there a couple of weeks ago. We walked the site and adjacent properties, and it is indeed, when completed, to be a most handsome project.
    I hope that we will continue to work closely on this project, and I will provide you with any additional information that you deem necessary. As always, thank you.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Neal, thank you, and as I indicated to the last panel of members, I will be submitting a series of six relatively brief questions to every member who is appearing this morning concerning some further updated information that we would like to have concerning the project. We look forward to your timely response to that.
    I want to thank you for coming forward this morning, making a very articulate case on behalf of your project.
    Mr. NEAL. Thank you. You are always most courteous.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you.
    We are now delighted to welcome the Honorable Silvestre Reyes, from the 16th Congressional District of Texas. Mr. Reyes, thank you for joining us this morning.
    Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be here today to solicit your support for a project that is important to the people of El Paso, which I represent.
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    For your information, El Paso is the fourth-largest city in Texas and ranks 17th among cities of the United States. It is adjacent to Juarez, Mexico, forming the largest international border community in the world, with over 2.5 million inhabitants in this region. We are a center of trade, immigration and transportation between the United States and Mexico.
    For purposes of this hearing, I am asking you to provide authorization for the 19 priority courthouse construction projects that have been identified by the Judicial Conference of the United States and for specifically funding and prioritizing the courthouse project in El Paso, Texas. Most of these projects have been delayed for one or two years, as there have been no appropriations for courthouse construction in FY 1998 and FY 2000. This delay in funding has occurred at a time when the administration and Congress have dramatically increased resources for law enforcement and prosecution while, at the very same time, failing to make a similar commitment to courthouse infrastructure.
    As a consequence, there has been an exceptional increase in criminal and civil caseloads that have strained to the limit an aging and deteriorating judicial infrastructure. El Paso is very representative of this type of deterioration. The President's proposal to fund seven projects for a total of $488 million is substantial, but in light of the impending backlog of projects, it does not sufficiently, in my opinion, address this problem.
    The remaining 12 priority projects require immediate funding to prevent a crisis in the administration of justice, specifically, talking about my district of El Paso, our courthouse has absorbed the brunt of our national war on drugs program and enhanced enforcement of immigration violations. The El Paso courthouse is a focal point for these efforts, with its proximity to the United States-Mexico border. More than half of the criminal filings in the Western District of Texas are filed in El Paso, and these filings have increased by over 200 percent in just the last 5 years.
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    The Federal courts of El Paso had over 2,000 criminal filings in 1999. This was more than twice the number of criminal filings filed in the entire seven-county Western District of Texas, which includes the cities of Austin and San Antonio respectively. Additionally, the combined criminal and civil caseload in El Paso has nearly tripled in the last 10 years.
    The El Paso courthouse is symbolic of the deteriorating situation of our judicial infrastructure. It is over 65 years old, having been built in 1935, and is eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places. All of the utility systems in the current facility are extremely antiquated and result in an uncomfortable and dangerous work environment. Moreover, it suffers from a lack of space and overcrowding, as the courthouse was filled to capacity in early 1991, and the historic nature of the building restricts alterations to create additional space.
    Furthermore, the courthouse required modern security measures along with up-to-date technology to ensure the fair and safe administration of justice and a safe work environment for all employees. The U.S. Marshal's Service, in a recent survey of prisoner handling facilities nationwide, gave the El Paso courthouse a score significantly below the minimally—again, the minimally acceptable—security and safety standards. This is especially distressing, as the El Paso courthouse sits only six blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border.
    As a result, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Judicial Conference of the United States have recommended for the past 2 years authorization and funding for the El Paso courthouse project, and approximately 20 others around the United States have agreed. All of these courthouses are suffering from a lack of space and security, and the delay in appropriation for these projects severely jeopardizes the integrity of our judicial system.
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    The needs of the El Paso courthouse and other priority projects can no longer afford these kinds of delays. They require immediate funding to maintain the fair and equitable administration of justice. I therefore am here this morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, to ask for your full support to authorize $7.2 million to purchase the site and design of a new courthouse for El Paso. As always, I appreciate the courtesy of coming before you, and I look forward to answering any questions that you might have.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you for coming forward with your testimony. We very much appreciate it.
    I am now delighted to welcome another colleague, the Honorable Robert Scott from Virginia's Third District. Mr. Scott, welcome to the committee.
    Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ms. Norton. It is a pleasure to be here, and I want to thank you for your invitation to testify today on the urgent and critical needs for new courthouse facilities. I am here today to speak on behalf of two applications, one in Richmond, Virginia, at the Lewis F. Powell U.S. Courthouse and the Walter E. Hoffman U.S. Courthouse in Norfolk, the Richmond and Norfolk Courthouses and ask for your support for continued investment in the capital infrastructure of our judiciary.
    First, the Federal courthouse in Richmond, which I share jurisdiction with Tom Bliley, and I also share the Norfolk facility, jurisdiction in Norfolk with Owen Pickett. Both have struggled for years with inadequate courtroom work and storage space and increased caseloads. First, in Richmond, it was constructed in 1858. The annex was built in 1936. We reached capacity in Richmond in 1978. Currently, the courthouse, the annex house which—the courthouse and the annex house the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; the Richmond Division of the U.S. District Court and the Federal Bankruptcy Court. The Offices of the U.S. Attorney, the U.S. Trustee, probation and pre-trial services and staff for the Court of Appeals are located in two leased off-site facilities.
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    Over the past several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in caseload in Richmond. Since 1995, the criminal filings have gone up 44 percent; bankruptcies have gone up 73 percent, and we can expect future increases because of the popularity of Project Exile, which moves what were usually street crime tried in state court into the Federal courts.
    The Federal Courthouse in Richmond currently practices courtroom sharing. However, even allowing for arranging alternative court space and changing court schedules, the use of current courtrooms is not always feasible because of the different functions and design requirements of Court of Appeals and district courts. They have different needs; for example, the need of juries that you have in a district court, you do not have in a Court of Appeals; prisoners, victims, witnesses; we do not have the security concerns in an appellate court as you would in the district court.
    These design challenges have created operational hardships that restrict the courts' ability to efficiently manage dockets. While the administration has proposed that projects funded in their budget implement courtroom sharing, I would hope that this committee would take the position of the Judicial Conference, which is adamantly opposed to the administration's courtroom sharing plan. We should leave it to the discretion of the judiciary to determine the space requirements that will best allow them to administer justice.
    The Richmond courthouse is in danger of losing some design funds and one courtroom from the construction plan should the administration's courtroom sharing plan be implemented. The construction of the new courthouse in Richmond is the only feasible alternative to the current situation. Once construction is completed on the project, the district court and bankruptcy court would be located in the new courthouse, and the Court of Appeals would become consolidated in the existing Powell Courthouse. Relocation of these offices and courts will save the Federal Government an annual expense of more than $1.3 million in present expenses due to the requirement to lease outside space.
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    The Norfolk courthouse has faced difficulties that are very similar to the Richmond, particularly because of increased caseloads and security. The courthouse was constructed in 1934 to house the Post Office, the district court and all Federal agencies in Norfolk. Since 1983, the courts have been the primary occupants of the courthouse, and full capacity was reached in 1991. In addition, Norfolk has been accommodating all major proceedings originating in Newport News across the river because of the poor conditions of its courthouse.
    The construction plan in Norfolk provides for a unified facility for the district and bankruptcy courts; the Fourth Circuit library; offices of the U.S. Marshal, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Trustee and probation and pre-trial services.
    Now, as you know, Mr. Chairman, both Norfolk and Richmond are included in the 5-year courthouse construction plan for FY 2000 to 2004. While I am pleased that the Richmond courthouse project has been included in the President's request, the need for construction in Norfolk remains, and I will be encouraging my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to allocate enough funding to allow work to begin on both sites. Further delay of the Norfolk courthouse construction project will only interfere with the ability of the courts to accomplish their work and increase eventual costs for the facilities.
    Now, Mr. Chairman, I know the scenario that I have laid out describes a situation currently experienced in Norfolk and Richmond, and I can imagine that you have heard similar stories throughout the country. Now, if we expect our judiciary to begin to be able to function in a fair and just manner, Congress must at least provide our judicial system with the capital investments it requires to achieve those goals, and I look forward, in working with you, to assure this happens, and Mr. Chairman, I would hope that as we go down the list that we not play politics and jumble the list.
    As I have said, Richmond is on the list, Norfolk is not, but I would hope we would go straight down the list of priorities so that those needy facilities do not get funded because of political shenanigans. I would hope we would go right down the list, fair and square, and hopefully, Richmond will get funded, and if we get enough money, Norfolk will be on the list.
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    Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your indulgence.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Scott, thank you very much for coming to the committee and stepping forward today for your testimony. We appreciate it very much.
    Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
    Mr. FRANKS. We have several members on their way, but I am now going to move to the next panel. I would like to now call forward the Honorable Jane R. Roth, United States Court of Appeals, chairwoman of the Security and Facilities Committee of the Judicial Conference. Judge Roth, we are delighted to have you with us today. We appreciate your patience. We also admire your persistence and the fact that the judiciary has, as it rightfully should, continued to keep us apprised of the growing needs that the judiciary faces, and I hope that today's hearing is a step forward in being able to bring about a successful resolution of the challenge that we all face.
    I will be introducing the other members of the panel, but I know there are three members already on the way, and I just wanted to begin with the judicial panel right now. Judge Roth, thank you for appearing this morning.

    Judge ROTH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you today the courthouse projects scheduled for fiscal year 2001 under the judiciary's prioritized 5-year plan and also to summarize the judiciary's continuing efforts to review and improve our courthouse construction program.
    We hope that you will authorize all of our projects at the levels originally submitted by GSA to the Office of Management and Budget, which will incorporate all projects that can be ready for site design or construction contract award in fiscal year 2001. President Clinton's fiscal year 2001 budget request includes $488 million for seven new courthouse projects. This request is the first since fiscal year 1997. The President's request does not, however, include all of the projects which GSA proposed to OMB.
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    We are concerned by the administration's failure to include funds for all of the projects which need site, design and construction funding. We are also concerned by OMB's reduction of the size of the projects which were submitted to you. We are informed that the funding levels for these seven projects are based on an assumption that only two courtrooms will be provided for every three active district, senior, magistrate and bankruptcy judges. By statute, the judicial councils of the circuits have the authority to determine the need for court accommodations. The GSA administrator is then directed by law to provide those accommodations. We ask that you take action to restore the levels of funding for courthouse programs to those proposed by GSA prior to OMB's arbitrary action.
    I think the short-sightedness of OMB's action is obvious. The courts are experiencing an ever-increasing workload. To delete courtrooms from buildings that should last for decades will only cause the judiciary to come back to this subcommittee shortly after a building is occupied in order to seek funds for major expansion or major alterations to a brand new facility. The administration chose not to request funding for courthouse construction in the budget for the previous 3 years. Congress was able to appropriate funds for courthouses in only one of those three years. This lack of funding has created a backlog of projects and has placed GSA woefully behind schedule in delivering needed space for the courts.
    The courts, therefore, must continue to operate in facilities that are unsafe, overcrowded and substandard. The Judicial Conference's fiscal year 2001 request includes 19 projects which are ready to go. The total cost of these projects is about $800 million, based on GSA's September 1999 estimates. Seventeen of these projects were included in GSA's original request. There are two additional ones. One of those is Fresno, about which Congressman Radanovich just testified. A statement from Judge Coyle will be submitted to you following this hearing.
    All of these projects are needed and will only fall further behind schedule if not funded. A listing of the projects in priority order is attached to my statement. In addition to creating backlogs, delayed funding of scheduled courthouse projects can also result in significant cost increases in construction. The workload of the Federal courts has grown increasingly over the last 10 to 15 years, largely as a result of legislative efforts to wage a Federal war on crime and on the illegal drug trade. The courthouse projects on the list for fiscal year 2001 are in areas of the country where there is dynamic population growth combined with an increase in law enforcement activities.
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    The same administration that proposes shrinking courthouses is also asking for increased funding this year for additional Border Patrol agents, United States Attorneys and construction of Federal prisons. Such law enforcement activities inevitably result in an increase in judicial actions that must be handled in the Federal courts. We have provided you with a fact sheet on each of the courthouse projects that describes the current situation and the need for a project at that location.
    In recent years, the judiciary has continually reviewed and significantly improved the operation of the courthouse construction program. As part of our ongoing commitment to cost containment and program assessment and evaluation, we have contracted with the consulting firm of Ernst and Young to review our entire space and facilities program. That study is close to completion and will address courtroom sharing and utilization, our long-range planning process, courthouse design assumptions, internal space management policies, business practices, funding mechanisms and resource allocation strategies.
    We expect a final report from Ernst and Young by the end of April for review by our Committee on Security and Facilities. In the meantime, however, it is critical that we move forward with the courthouse construction program. In fact, Ernst and Young has reported to the judiciary that the court projects requested by GSA for fiscal year 2001 are the result of methodical planning and review processes put in place by the judiciary and GSA.
    Courtroom sharing is a topic which is getting a great deal of attention these days. It has been suggested that because most courtrooms are not used 100 percent of the time, Federal judges should be able to share courtrooms in order to save on the cost of construction. Recognizing those concerns, in 1997 the Judicial Conference thoroughly reviewed the matter and adopted a policy on courtroom sharing. This policy balances the essential need for judges to have an available courtroom to fulfill their responsibilities against the economic reality of limited resources.
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    It provides one courtroom for each active district judge and for each senior judge who maintains a substantial caseload. For senior judges who do not carry a caseload requiring substantial use of a courtroom and for visiting judges, the policy sets forth a nonexclusive list of factors for circuit councils to consider when determining the number of courtrooms needed at a facility. Each of the 19 projects included in GSA's original request for courthouse funding incorporates this policy.
    OMB, unfortunately, chose to reduce the number of courtrooms in each project and unilaterally to adopt its own courtroom sharing policy without any study, analysis or understanding of the judicial system. There is, in fact, no research that supports courtroom sharing. The General Accounting Office report cited by OMB is a snapshot study of 12 courthouses in the country. That report concludes by stating that more research is necessary. It is for that reason, to do that further research, that we included in the Ernst and Young study the issue of courtroom sharing. The Ernst and Young study will, we understand, report that a policy of one courtroom for each active judge is the policy which should be followed. Furthermore, none of the 50 states has adopted a policy of courtroom sharing.
    Simplistic approaches to the assessment of courtroom needs might suggest that the litigants, the lawyers, the witnesses and the jurors line up outside a courthouse waiting for the next available courtroom. That is not the way it works. Due process, public access, would be nullified by a court system which worked in this manner. The costs and delays for litigants, including the largest litigant in the Federal courts, the Federal government itself, would be significant under such a program.
    One of the problems with courtroom sharing is that no one can predict ahead of time how long a trial will last-when the trial will end. In criminal cases, you cannot require the defendant at the outset of the trial to state whether or not he is going to testify, whether or not he is going to put on a defense. These are elements in courtroom scheduling which simply prevent 100 percent utilization of courtrooms.
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    In civil cases, many settle on the day of trial, shortly before the trial. In criminal cases, there is often a plea agreement worked out shortly before the trial. This nature of the operation of the court system requires that a courtroom be available, but if the proceeding is settled, the courtroom will not be utilized. The fact that the lights are not on in the courtroom does not indicate that the availability of the courtroom has not been a very important factor in determining whether a case was settled or whether a plea agreement was reached in a criminal matter.
    Moreover, the cost of a courtroom, when compared over its lifetime to the overall cost of the courthouse is not substantial. In Federal courts where courtroom sharing among active judges has occurred out of necessity, the judges have reported serious difficulties. For example, the three-to-two ratio of courtrooms suggested by OMB is currently in effect in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, while a new facility is under construction. The judges, staff and others affected have struggled to make it through that temporary situation.
    The judges in Brooklyn are uniform, however, in concluding that courtroom sharing has strained the operational effectiveness of the court and that courtroom sharing as a permanent policy would be counterproductive. I testified on Tuesday before the Senate subcommittee. Senator Moynihan was there. His personal experience with the Brooklyn courthouse bears out exactly what I have said, and he did comment upon the very serious situation in Brooklyn that has occurred because of this forced three-to-two judge/courtroom ratio. It is a ratio which causes chaos in a system that requires orderly process in order to be fair and just.
    The judiciary has also continued to review and update its prioritization of courthouse projects using a weighted scoring methodology. I am very concerned, however, that continued delays in funding courthouses or reductions in the sizes of the buildings could result in a breakdown of this prioritization process, with individual districts attempting to fulfill their needs without regard to the established process.
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    We ask that you take action to authorize the new courthouse construction projects on the attached list in fiscal year 2001 at the levels originally calculated by GSA in September of 1999. I thank you for the opportunity to testify before the subcommittee, and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
    Mr. FRANKS. Judge Roth, we thank you very much for your time this morning. Thank you for putting this testimony before us. We look forward to coming to grips with the issues that you raise as the subcommittee works through this very challenging task that we are confronting. We thank you very, very much for your testimony.
    Ms. Norton, any questions? Seeing none, thank you very much, Judge Roth.
    Judge ROTH. Thank you, Mr. Franks.
    Mr. FRANKS. I would like to now call several members of the Congressional delegation from the great State of New York, whom I see in the audience. We would like to bring forward Congressman Jack Quinn, from the 30th District in New York. We would like to also be joined by our colleague John LaFalce of New York's 29th District, and they have joining them at the witness table now the Honorable William Skretny, from the United States District Court. Gentleman, welcome. Thank you for coming forward to offer testimony to the subcommittee this morning.
    Mr. Quinn?

    Mr. QUINN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the opportunity to be with you in a very, very bipartisan way, as it is easy to note, with Mr. LaFalce and I both representing the City of Buffalo, Erie County, in Western New York, and we are also pleased to have a fellow Bishop Timon High School graduate as a distinguished Federal judge in Buffalo, Western New York, Mr. Skretny, joining us this morning. Mr. LaFalce will probably tell you he went to Canisius College or something in a minute, but his real training happened at Bishop Timon High School.
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    Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit for the record some written testimony this morning for you to take a look at and share with the full subcommittee, and because I know that you will have the facts and figures, Mr. Chairman, I wanted to take my brief couple of minutes now to just outline a situation where I think the Buffalo Federal Courthouse may have been overlooked, and the reason for us being here this morning is to bring that back to everyone's attention.
    Mr. Chairman, we all know that the administration had not proposed any courthouse funding in 1998, 1999, or the 2000 budget. However, the administration's 2001 budget included $488 million for courthouse construction, the first time, then, in about 4 years. During this process, of course, all of these projects around the country are graded and rated, and the Buffalo project, we believe, was rated as a number six, some say seven, six or seven, in that area.
    What confuses us a little bit here and has our interest is that with the funding this year in the budget at $488 million, the administration proposed to fund courthouse priorities one through five and then go to number eight through 14. And somehow, in the process, it seems to me, hopefully we can get this explained in the next few days, that we have the Buffalo courthouse dropping out of the process when, in fact, a lot of people did a lot of hard work to get it rated, to make it justified, and all those great things.
    And finally, I just want to point out to you that if it is a question of money, because I know it always is here in Congress-we are trying to spend it wisely; that the Buffalo project, at about $3.6 million, was dropped out of this scenario, while a priority a little bit lower, number eight, is a $110 million project. So I think our request is very modest at this time, and we are willing to work with the subcommittee and the full committee and the administration to try to find a way to get the priorities for Buffalo and Western New York included.
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    I am certain that the Judge and others will point out the reasons, whether it is safety, overcrowdedness; some of the testimony that you just heard a few minutes ago that I was able to hear all plays into the situation in Western New York, but we stand ready to assist you in a bipartisan way, any way possible, to help you out here, and that concludes my testimony.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Quinn, thank you very much.
    Mr. LaFalce, welcome.
    Mr. LAFALCE. Thank you very much, Mr. Franks. It is a pleasure for me to be here with Congressman Jack Quinn and Judge William Skretny, both good friends. First, I would like unanimous consent to put the entirety of my testimony in the record. Thank you.
    Let me just summarize a bit. First of all, these are both great friends. Jack, since he has come to Congress and Judge Skretny, from his college days, I had the honor of testifying on his behalf before the United States Senate when he was nominated by Senator Al D'Amato for the Federal bench, and he has done an absolutely outstanding job. His son, another outstanding attorney, teaching at Georgetown Law School, is present in the audience today, Brian Skretny, and Brian was an intern in my office many, many years ago.
    Another judge in the Federal District Court of New York is Judge Dick Arcara. Judge Arcara and I went to law school together in Pennsylvania, Villanova Law School. And when I practiced law, and I think I am the only practicing attorney in the entire upstate New York delegation; that is everything outside of New York City, I spent a considerable amount of time in the Federal courthouse.
    It was ancient then.
    Mr. LAFALCE. It was very ancient then, and it is more ancient now. Jack's predecessor in Congress, Henry Nowak, had his office in the Federal courthouse for 18 years, and I used to go over there frequently. And then, it got more and more ancient. By the way, Henry Nowak, who had a heart attack last week, is now at home doing quite well. Were you here when he was here? No, you came shortly thereafter; classmates, good.
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    We need significant improvements. We have needed it for decades, for decades. It is long overdue. And, of course, those overdue decades, the caseload in the Western New York District, which includes not just Buffalo, but I have forgotten how many—it includes all my portion of Monroe County, which is the Rochester area, and I think it goes even into Syracuse; doesn't it, Judge Skretny?
    Judge SKRETNY. It goes up to Syracuse.
    Mr. LAFALCE. It goes up to Syracuse, right; so, it is enormous. And it is got one of the highest caseloads in the country. There has been a recommendation for about a decade for an additional Federal district court judge. That has to be acted upon sometime. We have different buildings right now for the judges. We have different buildings for the bankruptcy judges, for the magistrates, et cetera. We are spread all over the place. And that is one of the reasons that this particular project has been rated so high, not by any political groups but by the Judicial Conference, by the GSA, and in the last years' recommendation, we rated sixth overall. In this year's budget recommendations made by the Judicial Conference and GSA, we rated seventh.
    And the administration now has seen the wisdom of coming forth with some recommendations for new construction. I am delighted. But OMB, and this was not a big decision that was made in the White House; it was a low-level bureaucrat who said, well, let's do the first five, and then, we will skip six and seven, and we will go to eight; and then, we will skip nine, 10, 11, 12, 13 and go to 14. If you are going to do seven, I do not have any problem, so long as the one that is seventh is in there, and that is Buffalo, and I have a big problem when Buffalo is left out, particularly when you go from fifth to eighth and then to 14th. Fourteenth happens to be Little Rock.
    I do not want to exclude anybody, but we have got to have $3.6 million; that is all, $3.6 million. We have to have it this year in this budget. This is in Congressman Quinn's district, but it is about a block away from my district. It is for all of Western New York. Surely, Mr. Chairman, we can come up with the $3.6 million as was recommended by the Judicial Conference and by GSA. This Congress can correct the small little error that an OMB bureaucrat made in not including it.
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    Thank you.
    Mr. FRANKS. Judge Skretny, welcome.
    Judge SKRETNY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and your subcommittee for allowing me to appear here today to make a case for the Buffalo annex. I will try to be brief, right to the point and nonrepetitious. I am not sure I can be as impassioned as my good friends Congressman LaFalce and Congressman Quinn, but I want to tell you up front, I am very happy that I chose to go to Bishop Timan High School since Congressman Quinn went there. I went to Canisius College. I am really happy about that choice, because Congressman LaFalce went there.
    Judge SKRETNY. It is nice to have good friends in high places.
    I also should approach my remarks by stating that, as you know, judges, especially in the Federal system, should be impartial in all of their cases. I have to confess I am not impartial in this case. We really need the Buffalo annex courthouse project, and I am optimistic, because I think in this case, justice will prevail. I also think that in making an enlightened subcommittee determination and examination, you will agree with me that Buffalo should be included in any funding requests this year.
    I serve on the Judicial Conference's Security and Facilities Committee, and you have heard references to the Judicial Conference's prioritizing of courthouse construction projects. I also serve on that full committee's subcommittee which deals with space management and planning. In part, what we do is to arrive at an assessment of needy courthouse projects and then propose their prioritization. That is in part my segue into what I am going to comment about right now as far as the Buffalo project is concerned.
    You have already heard that Buffalo was skipped over. I think there are more theories on why that happened than we have courthouses presently existing in the country. I agree with my good friends Congressmen Quinn and LaFalce on the urgent need for the courthouse annex in light of the modest request that GSA has made for site and design, which is roughly $3.6 million. I also agree with Congressman Scott, whom you heard earlier. I know I was struck by his point: do not jumble the list. I think that really should apply here in the case of Buffalo's request.
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    You know the bottom line: we were skipped over. This really has not been all that good a year for Buffalo in my view, especially if you are a sports fan. If you are, you probably know that the no-goal-goal cost the Sabres a chance for the Stanley Cup. Then, there was the miracle forward pass lateral that eliminated the Bills—
    Judge SKRETNY.—from the NFL playoffs. Frankly, it is kind of like falling victim to Gaffuso's extension of Murphy's Law, which states that nothing can be so bad that it cannot get worse. And now, we have this.
    Judge SKRETNY. You know, it does not destroy my optimism, because I think that right will prevail here. I want to talk to you just a little bit about how our project came to be. Frankly, I think I have developed a much more profound appreciation of what the legislative branch is all about in its concerns through my work on the Security and Facilities committee and its subcommittee, especially when it comes to the matter of fiscal responsibility and available dollars for national construction projects. I know what it means now, and maybe much more than before, to hear the fact that the almighty dollars for these projects are finite.
    That, I think, is what inspired us to take another look at our project in Buffalo, and this was the way we did it. Some four years ago, we made the prioritization list and have moved up steadily, frustrated at times, because the monies were not made available through the President's budget process. We have now achieved the number six slot. When our project first hit, it was for an entire new courthouse building, and it was not lost on me this morning that Congressman LaFalce has long thought the existing building is a somewhat antiquated structure.
    We went back with GSA, and we did some serious soul-searching. In addition to that, we became a little bit creative. What we did was change our project and maintain our status on the priority list. We took an $85 million project, and we think we can bring home the annex at approximately $44 million. We need to get that started with the $3.6 million site and design monies.
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    I think that is a considerable savings, obviously. Congressman LaFalce made mention of certain of our courtroom facilities being off-site, off-premises. With the approved annex, we will be saving annually $700,000 approximately in rent that we are paying to accommodate our bankruptcy court, the trustees and the like outside the Dillon Courthouse--another substantial savings, as I see it.
    What makes the annex project, though, a suitable project, is the site. The present plan, and this is the creativity that I was talking about, calls for an over-the-street--it is a traffic street--link from the Dillon Courthouse. The existing courthouse will be entirely backfilled with the bankruptcy court and other litigation and court-related support functions. This particular over-the-street link has only one place to go, and that is to the site for the proposed annex. As I speak, the site is available.
    If we wait and the opportunity to acquire it is lost, it truly may be irreparable. That is why this is such a critical year for us.
    I would briefly like to point out a couple of matters that I do not think are repetitious. I can talk about statistics and the fact that, from the standpoint of the number of filings in civil and criminal cases per judge in the Buffalo division of the Western District of New York, we rank sixth nationally. Statistics also show our caseload—because we are a border district—has gone up in 1998 and 1999 by 15 percent. Up to today, we are up an additional 10 percent over last year in terms of our filings. We can talk statistics probably all day, but I know that you do not have that kind of time. My statement, which I hope will be admitted to the record sets out all of those statistics to which I refer.
    I would like to further comment very briefly, not on the statistics or the condition of the building, but on a matter that was first addressed by Ms. Aren Almon-Kok this morning--security concerns. I do not mean security concerns just for the judges, because I do not think that the judges should be provided with the kind of security that would disadvantage the public or the litigants. Here is the situation short and sweet, plain and simple as far as the Buffalo courthouse is concerned, and I know both Congressmen know this very well: no sallyport exists at the building.
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    We have a building that is a very charming building. A lot of money has gone into it. But because it is on the historic register, only certain things, as you know, can be done with it. What happens? The prisoners come in; they are unloaded on the pedestrian walkway or at curbside. Everybody, including prisoners, security people, judges, public, family members, attorneys, all come through common entranceways. They use common elevators. The prisoners are taken upstairs to our seventh floor and are dispersed from there.
    They come down common elevators; they mix with the public. They go to different courtrooms; they mix with jurors. I cannot tell you the number of times that motions have been made by defense counsel because jurors have seen and been with defendants in shackles, and they want the case dismissed. We go three weeks, nine weeks on trial. Somebody sees a defendant in shackles, and not only is it not safe because of our traffic pattern, but now we face time and time again motions to dismiss the case because the jurors have been prejudiced.
    Something has to be done, Mr. Chairman. I am very grateful to both of our Congressmen for making the case on behalf of the project in Buffalo. I personally believe that the annex project is the answer to our problems in the Buffalo area. I think it is a suitable structure. I want to thank you, all of my good friends and colleagues, who have made the case for the Buffalo project for giving me this opportunity to make this presentation. I want to thank this subcommittee for its courtesies in accepting the materials that I have submitted in support of this request.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. FRANKS. Judge, thank you, and I want to thank our two Congressional colleagues as well.
    The reason why I allowed this testimony to go beyond the normal time limit is because I think this case concerning the Buffalo courthouse brings into sharpest possible focus the issue of why and how the priority list was altered at OMB, and it has candidly invited a whole host of differing interpretations as to why Buffalo was skipped over, and we intend, as the subcommittee, to get to the bottom of that issue. We will be having OMB and GSA before this subcommittee to help resolve it, and I would like to ask Mr. Quinn, who is a member of our committee, to join us on the dais on that day to lead the questioning concerning what happened with the Buffalo project. I think it is important that these issues be brought to light.
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    Mr. QUINN. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that offer very much, and I will be in attendance.
    Mr. FRANKS. Gentlemen, I appreciate very much all of you coming forward today. Judge, thank you for traveling down to join us.
    Judge SKRETNY. You are welcome, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. QUINN. Thank you, Bob.
    Mr. FRANKS. I now have one remaining member of the House, a colleague and friend, Gene Taylor of Mississippi who is here to offer testimony.
    Mr. Taylor, welcome to the subcommittee.
    Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That is a tough trio to follow. I am not as articulate as Mr. Quinn or as funny as Mr. LaFalce, but I will try to make a good point.
    Chairman Franks, Ranking Member Wise, members of the subcommittee, Mr. Cooksey, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today respectfully asking for an authorization of $42.715 million for a new Federal courthouse to be constructed in Gulfport, Mississippi. As you probably know, the President's 2001 budget fully funded the $42.7 million needed for the courthouse in the fiscal 2001 budget. I would ask you to observe that it is the only courthouse that was fully funded in the President's budget, and I hope that that will be received favorably by this committee.
    After failing to fund any courthouse construction for four years, the inclusion of funds for the Gulfport courthouse demonstrates a strong administration report. In addition, the Judiciary's 5-year courthouse project plan for the years 2000 to 2004 call for the construction of the Gulfport courthouse to start last year, in FY 2000. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has enjoyed an enviable and tremendous period of growth over the last 7 years. As a result of this growth, our Federal courts and associated agencies are under greatly increased workload.
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    The U.S. court and court-related activities of the Southern Division of Mississippi are currently spread across four leased facilities. The leased facilities provide space for one magistrate-sized courtroom for the division's current complement of two active district judges, one senior district judge, one magistrate judge and one bankruptcy judge. At this time, five judges serve Mississippi's Southern Division, but this is slated to increase to 10 judges under the courts' 10-year plan.
    I would like to note that the combined lease payments on these facilities totals almost $900,000 a year, again, funds that would be saved if this would become a Federally-owned and built facility. These four facilities are falling into disrepair and are extremely cramped. Their quality, structural and building hygiene and maintenance of the present judicial buildings present major concerns for the health and safety as employees as well as the visitors to the courts. Jurors regularly complain of eye and throat irritation from visiting these buildings.
    In addition, jurors often have to deliberate in judges' chambers, because the jury rooms are too small and lack the proper ventilation. With the leases for three of the four buildings due to expire in FY 2002, FY 2003 and FY 2006, without any options for renewal, time for the completion of a new courthouse is of the essence. As the judge from Buffalo pointed out, we share serious security shortfalls and problems with the existing facilities. The present buildings lack circulation patterns for prisoner transport. The existing facilities do not have a secure sallyport for the U.S. Marshals to secure prisoners into the buildings. The United States Marshals' Service, in a recent survey of prisoner handling facilities nationwide, gave one of the buildings presently used by the U.S. courts in south Mississippi a score that is significantly below the minimum acceptable security and safety standards.
    The General Services Administration, in consultation with the community and elected officials, has selected a site in Gulfport, Mississippi. After much discussion, the proposed site will provide the courthouse with a perfect location within the city, a site that has been approved by the Gulfport City Council. The facade of the existing Gulfport High School building, which will be used for this building, will be retained, but the interior will be entirely reconstructed. This is done to live by the rules for preserving historic buildings and has been approved by the folks at the GSA with that responsibility.
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    With the $42.7 million the President has requested in the 2001 budget and the site selected, the Gulf Coast community is now eager to proceed with the construction phase. Again, I would also like to point out, since Mr. Quinn made the point that Buffalo was number six on the judiciary prioritized plan, in addition to being fully funded in the President's budget request, the Gulfport, Mississippi site is fourth on the judiciary list.
    Mr. Chairman and committee, I hope you will take these factors into consideration, and I hope that your budget will include funding for this as well.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Taylor, thank you very much for coming forward to the committee today.
    Mr. TAYLOR. Thanks for being so patient.
    Mr. FRANKS. I would now like to bring forward the members of the judiciary who have so patiently awaited their opportunity to testify. We have with us the Honorable Harry T. Edwards, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals; the Honorable Terry J. Hatter, Jr., chief judge, United States District Court; the Honorable Edward B. Davis, chief judge, United States District Court; and the Honorable John E. Conway, chief judge, United States District Court.
    Gentlemen, welcome. We are very appreciative of your patience, and we thank you for, in many cases, traveling a distance to join our subcommittee this morning.

    Judge EDWARDS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I cannot say I traveled a long distance, but I am happy to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you.
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    I would like to make a very small point for the committee. OMB is asking Congress to take action that will result in spending more money to build a smaller, less-functional building than the one that HAs already been designed, and I hope that you will be persuaded against such action. For the past 7 years, the courts of the District of Columbia have worked diligently with GSA to develop plans for annex construction and renovation of our U.S. Courthouse. I am here to request respectfully that the committee authorize full funding for the construction of the annex.
    We have followed every design guide to a T. We have approval from the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission. We have several independent studies that have verified that the annex project is the most efficient and cost-effective way to solve our serious safety, security and space problems. The Government has already invested over $6 million on predesign and design phases for the project. Design work is now done, and we are ready to proceed with construction. Everyone--OMB, GSA, the Judicial Conference, the AO and the affected courts--agrees that the project should proceed.
    The courthouse has been designated in the fiscal year 2001 budget, and it is the fifth-ranked project. The only question now is the level of funding for construction. The annex project, as presently designed, will cost $109.5 million. OMB, however, has submitted a budget proposal to Congress seeking only $104 million for the project. OMB's budget figure is premised on the assumption that $5 million will be saved by the application of a courtroom sharing policy that would eliminate four courtrooms from the project design.
    OMB, candidly, is flat wrong. In fact, if the courts were required to redesign the annex project at this date to satisfy OMB, the construction project would end up costing the Government almost $114 million; that is $4.3 million more than the current design and almost $10 million more than OMB estimates it would take to construct the redesigned building. OMB's proposal is unfathomable. It will also result in a two and a half year delay in this project.
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    I think you will agree when you look at what has been submitted to you, and I hope the committee will agree with us, that the OMB proposal really is stunningly shortsighted. It asks you to pay more for less. It asks you not to consider full development of a site—that is, use the full and available site to its full potential; and it fails to recognize the unique situation of my circuit. We are the only circuit in the United States in which a single building is used to house the Court of Appeals, the District Court, the Bankruptcy Court, magistrate judges, probation, the United States Marshals Service, the Clerk's Office, the Circuit Executive, and the library.
    We are building to serve the future; we are building to add a facility that will last well into this century; and we are building on a limited site location. It makes no sense to modify the project at this point, when we are ready to proceed. I hope that you will act favorably on our request for full authorization of $109.5 million to fund construction of the annex and renovation of the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C., and I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and to submit the paper that I have for the record.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you, Judge.
    Judge Hatter?
    Judge HATTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
    I want to take this opportunity first of all to thank you for letting me come here and talk to you about the great need that we have in Los Angeles, and even before doing that, I want to share and commiserate with my colleague from Buffalo. We in Los Angeles do not have professional football either.
    Judge HATTER. But we do have the Lakers.
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    Judge HATTER. Given our extremely heavy caseload and the insufficient facilities that we have, and before I go any further, too, I want to thank you for letting a couple of your staffers come out, because they can now tell you firsthand what the needs are in Los Angeles. We really appreciate the time that they took in going through our strained and unsafe kinds of quarters. Everything that I have listened to here today from others applies to us only about four times over.
    We desperately need a new courthouse, and after extensive study, the General Services Administration forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget a proposal for a stand-alone courthouse that would house the district court as well as related facilities. GSA, together with us, determined that a stand-alone structure would alleviate the inefficiencies as well as the security risks currently caused by housing the court in two separate buildings which are several blocks apart.
    Actually, I do not like talking publiclyabout our lack of security. Frankly, we are at the very bottom of the list that the Marshals put together or perhaps you could say at the top of those courthouses that are unsafe. Our judges, for example, park in the same garage with the prisoners. A prisoner theoretically could take down a license number, put out a contract on a judge with impunity.
    OMB has drastically changed the proposal that was submitted to them by GSA. I want it to be known that our cooperation, our partnership—and I call it that, a partnership with GSA—has never been stronger. It troubles me that it would appear that OMB has given a dictate to GSA that they perhaps should not even testify before you. The fact is that there have been a number of studies that are already made a part of the record here; there were at least six studies done. GSA caused outside contractors to come in, outside consultants. All of them looked at everything that OMB is now suggesting, and to say that OMB is being fiscally foolish is, I think, putting it mildly.
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    Furthermore, I think that they are being ethically unjust in what they are attempting to do. We cannot quarrel with our place on OMB's list, we are still number one. We are number one on the Administrative Office's list and on the Judicial Conference's list for a new courthouse. Indeed, we are the only major city in the country that has a need for a new courthouse that has not at least been in the planning or construction stage, and that is well-documented.
    However, what OMB would do to our courthouse in its place on that list is almost as bad as Buffalo and some of the others who have been dropped off. For that reason, I urge you to reject what OMB has suggested doing.
    In 1996, the court updated its long-range facility plan and identified the need for a new courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. In response, GSA, in cooperation with the court, undertook extensive studies identifying and evaluating over a dozen alternatives. Ultimately, GSA and the court jointly concluded that the needs of the Federal community would best be met by constructing a new, stand-alone facility to house the entire district court, including district, senior and magistrate judges, as well as the clerk's office and related agencies. This would allow our bankruptcy court, which is currently also split between the Roybal Building and the Federal Building, to be consolidated into the Roybal Building.
    The Office of the United States Attorney, which, by the way, is the second-largest in the country—second only to the office here, where they do the work that local prosecutors do. We have over 240 assistant United States Attorneys in our district, and they are split as well between two buildings. If we could have the stand-alone building that GSA sent as part of its proposal to OMB, the United States Attorney would then take over the building that we are in. It would be properly retrofitted, and they would no longer be split.
    Our Federal public defender is in leased space. We would be able to bring that office back into a single building. We have all kinds of problems with jurors who get lost. They have to go two to three blocks away. Indeed, if they are handicapped, they have to go closer to five blocks, because they have to go around certain corners in order to get between these courthouses. The lawyers use it as excuse for being late for their proceedings.
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    As recently as the day before yesterday, when I flew out here, the Marshals transported several prisoners to the wrong buildings, and we were not able to even conduct hearings. We had to continue those hearings.
    Let me just indicate some of the problems with the Office of Management and Budget's proposal. They suggest that a companion building be constructed adjacent to and connected with the Roybal Building, which, to begin with, is simply an office building with undersized courtrooms that do not meet the courtroom design guide. Magistrate judges, who are also part of the district court, and the remaining court agencies would be housed in this Roybal Building.
    The number of new courtrooms under the OMB plan would be reduced by one-third, requiring district court judges to share courtrooms. Judge Roth and others have already spoken to you about the impossibility, really, of functioning as a district court if you have to share courtrooms among the active judges.
    Anything considered an exception to the U.S. Courts Design Guide is also suggested to be eliminated by OMB, and yet, together with Miami, we have some of the most extensive kinds of cases that you could imagine. Just two days ago, I had to assign to one of our judges a case involving 21 defendants. It is a prison gang-related case, where the Attorney General has authorized the death penalty for a number of these individuals. When we have cases like that, and we have a number of them, we have to use an undersized courtroom, build platforms in it, and then allow defense counsel and others to be in very, very close proximity to the defendants, to the point where, a year ago, one defense counsel was actually stabbed with a pen by his client.
    There are tremendous security problems that exist as a result of that sort of thing. Even after we put in these fixtures for these kinds of trials, we then have to take them down, and each time, it costs a minimum of $50,000. So again, OMB is just being foolish with regard to what they suggest. There is no way that in the second-largest city in the country, we should not have an all-purpose courtroom to handle these high-security cases.
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    I would urge you to please go back to what GSA, after a number of studies, has determined to be the only feasible way of handling the situation in Los Angeles, which is one of the fastest growing areas. As you know, over half of the population of California is in our district. We have 28 members of the House of Representatives in our district, almost equally split between the two major parties, and we have support from them.
    Our mayor is fully supportive. I should add that I have been working very closely with the Governor's office, with the Board of Supervisors of the County, as well as the city, in getting those bodies to donate a site for us, and we are very close to having that happen. I would think that members on both sides of the aisle would applaud efforts to bring the branches of government together, but more importantly the levels of government, and that is what we have envisioned for downtown Los Angeles. That is what GSA, in partnership with the court, has suggested. But OMB has turned its back on that entirely. I would urge you to please authorize the initial amount that was asked, $379.5 million. We are in grave need, and we look to you for support.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. FRANKS. Judge Hatter, thank you very much. There is a floor vote, of which we have only about 5 minutes left to get to the floor, but I would like to recognize Ms. Norton, who would like to make some comments.
    Ms. NORTON. I would like to be able to let Chief Judge Edwards go, since I am likely to be the only one who has any questions for him. We certainly want to avoid a pennywise, pound-foolish solution here. I would like simply to know whether OMB was made aware of your concerns.
    Judge EDWARDS. We have tried to communicate the relevant information. We are not sure whether we are facing a deaf ear. It is a very curious situation. OMB has not sought to communicate with any of the judges at this table to make itself informed and to understand our difficulties. We are trying to communicate with them now through GSA, to let them know that their figures are simply wrong.
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    Ms. NORTON. Well, the notion of more money, less space and more time does not appeal to me. I do want to say for the record, Mr. Chairman, that I had staff inquire of the GSA whether, in fact, any money would be saved by the OMB proposal, and the staff has informed me that this project in the District should go ahead as it is, that there is no money to be saved, and that the figures that the Judge has given us are, in fact, correct.
    I would like for him to be able to be excused so that he would not have to come back if that is at all possible.
    Mr. FRANKS. Indeed, it is.
    Judge EDWARDS. Thank you very much.
    Mr. FRANKS. And I apologize; we are going to have to recess for a few minutes while we cast some votes. We will be back as soon as possible.
    Mr. FRANKS. The subcommittee will reconvene.
    Judge Davis, welcome. Thank you very much for your patience. Thank you for joining us here this afternoon. I look forward to your testimony.
    Judge DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to testify here today. I have submitted a written statement that details, I think, the position of our court in connection with this action by OMB. I thought I would, instead of covering that statement, just give you and the committee a little of the background about why we need the facilities as agreed to with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and GSA.
    When I came on about 20 years ago, we were in the middle of the war on drugs because of our location. Congress almost doubled the size of our court by giving us five additional judges. That gave us a total of 11 on the court, but when the five of us came aboard, three of us had no courtrooms. We had a hole in the ground for a new building to be constructed. I was in the basement with one other judge. We had three small rooms that we shared. We were also the evidence room—the contraband room for the DEA, the FBI and other people. They would come into our offices and take evidence out of the safe for judges that did have courtrooms that they could actually use.
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    It was a tremendously frustrating experience. We could not get a courtroom to try a single case. My first trial was in Key West—a criminal trial. After I was there for about three months, one judge who had been handling Key West cases gave me a case to try there. GSA worked very hard and cobbled together five courtrooms so we could perform our duties professionally and in a timely manner, while GSA still worked on the new building.
    These courtrooms never met design guide standards. We had the same problem you have heard other judges describe. The courtrooms were totally insecure. Prisoners, witnesses, the public and juries were crossing corridors together. Those courtrooms are still in use within our facility.
    We finally got a new building in 1983. Two or three years earlier GSA projected, and we thought not unreasonably so, that the new building would cover the 30-year needs of our court. This building did not cover the existing needs. We had 10 judges and nine courtrooms. The chief judge had to agree to stay in the old structure to allow us all to try cases. These courtrooms were adequate. We had adequate prisoner movement. The jury rooms were undersized—they did not quite meet standards—but it was something that we could do.
    At that time, and this was 17 years ago, to be exact, we started working with GSA to build a full courthouse so we could have our district court in one place achieve the efficiencies and the security that are necessary. We ultimately got the plans; we were ready to go in 1992 with the property next door for an 11-story building. The U.S. Attorney's office, which had increased in numbers from 29 assistants, I believe, a minimum of 220—they tell me they are close to 240 now as well—had a U.S. Attorney's building next door.
    The Bureau of Prisons bought the land out from under us. They built the biggest metropolitan correction center in the United States for a Federal facility. We lost our courthouse there.
     We were able to get six courtrooms and chambers in the U.S. Attorney's building by taking two floors away from them, so we could actually have enough space to try our cases. The Court of Appeals got an extra floor on the top. We had a jury assembly room on the floor between the two courtrooms so that we could process our cases. The U.S. Attorney's office has not been able to meet their own needs since we took their space.
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    We have met every requirement with the AO, with the Judicial Council, and with GSA for 16 courtrooms, including two large courtrooms, to meet our needs now and for the immediate future. If you allow us to continue with those plans, we will have security; we will have a place where we can fairly administer justice and where judges will be able to do the job that they are Constitutionally required to do.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. FRANKS. Judge, thank you for that stark testimony. We appreciate it.
    Judge Conway?
    Judge CONWAY. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for having us here today and providing the opportunity to talk to you about Las Cruces.
    Our courthouse in Las Cruces was built in 1974 and was very adequate at that time. We had one courtroom, and we had judges come down from Albuquerque every month or so to try a civil case. Once we received all the criminal jurisdiction, that went out the window. We had the fourth highest criminal caseload in the country in New Mexico. It is obviously because we are a border state.
    You drive into our courthouse; we have no sallyport, so, like the other judges have testified, the prisoners are unloaded at curbside. They are all shackled—leg irons, leg chains, waist chains, handcuffed. They walk up three flights of steps, because we have only one elevator, and then they walk down three flights of steps to go to the magistrate judges. Then, they walk up three flights of steps to go back into the holding cells, and then, they walk down three flights of steps to load into the vans and leave again. The holding cells are woefully inadequate. I think they hold about 10 each, and we will have as many as 50 people crammed into the cells.
    I got off the elevator the other—
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    Mr. FRANKS. Judge, I am sorry; as many as how many?
    Judge CONWAY. Fifty.
    Mr. FRANKS. In a space that is designed to accommodate 10?
    Judge CONWAY. To accommodate about 20. We have two holding cells.
    I got off the elevator the other day, and there were about 25 to 30 prisoners, all shackled, just walking down the hall single-file. I think we had two marshals with them, because we do not have enough marshals either. Our security is fairly lax down there. I think it is rated, as Judge Hatter said, at the highest level the marshals have for security concerns.
    What we want to do is build a new courthouse, not an annex. GSA came up with this idea. This month, as a matter of fact, we had a meeting. The new courthouse would be built on Federal land immediately behind our current courthouse. There would be no new purchase of land. We are asking for $1.9 million for design. Senator Domenici and Congressman Skeen are both 100 percent behind this project.
    I would be glad to yield to any questions.
    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you, Judge Conway. We appreciate your testimony.
    Gentlemen, we thank you for taking time and effort to travel to Washington today to offer testimony on this important subject, the perspective of judges who sit every day in these facilities and understand the scope of the challenge and the problems currently that you need to confront are important for this subcommittee to have before it as we try to work through this problem.
    I appreciate your attendance today and your testimony. Appreciate it.
    Judge HATTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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    Judge DAVIS. Thank you, sir.
    Mr. FRANKS. Finally, we are going to hear from Mr. Richard Rockwell, president of Professional Security. Mr. Rockwell is with a private sector security firm, and I had the occasion once to ask him if he had ever bid on any Federal work, and he told me no, and I was interested to hear his response, so I have asked him to appear before the subcommittee today. We will make your written statement a part of the record of today's hearing by unanimous consent.

    Mr. ROCKWELL. Good afternoon. Let me be the first to say good afternoon. I might also be the first person here who is not going to ask for any money, which I think is a very enviable position.
    As you mentioned, my name is Richard Rockwell. Twenty years, I have been in the security business as the owner and president of Professional Security. Professional Security has paid and billed in excess of 60 million guard hours throughout my tenure. We provide uniformed security services and security electronics to industry.
    I also have the honor of serving as the chairman of the National Association of Contract Security Companies. This group of companies bill and pay in excess of half a billion hours each and every year. Over the years, we at Professional have been presented with the opportunity to bid contracts for providing physical security services, uniformed security services, and we at Professional are among the great majority of companies that have not participated in the Federal bidding process.
    In fact, you know, as I have reached around throughout the industry, I wanted to come up with a very conservative number as to the number of companies that actually participate, and it is my most conservative guess that less than 5 percent of the 10,000 or so companies that are currently engaged in the industry regularly participate in bidding Federal contracts for uniformed security services.
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    Consistently, we request specifications and the materials which we need to participate in the process, despite the fact that bid notifications tend to come from—in a very erratic way and inconsistently. Once we receive the requested material and perform the proper level of preliminary due diligence, inevitably, we are led to the same conclusion, which is not to bid. The reasons are numerous, but to start out, we find the process and the specifications involved in Federal bidding to be unduly complex and administratively prohibitive. Our most recent bid happened to have been a Department of State bid, and no exaggeration: the bid specifications were literally two feet thick.
    In reviewing the list of companies that were participating, there was an all-star cast of nondescript companies with no real substance, no infrastructure, you know, all looking to grab a piece of this so-called pie.
    Interestingly, many a business consultant has solicited our business to assist us in efforts to procure Federal contracts. Their arrangement usually involves a fixed fee up front and a percentage of total revenues should the bid, of course, be won. This arrangement, of course, increases the cost of bid preparation, but furthermore, if we were to engage such a consultant, the cost inevitably would have to be built into the price, a practice which I believe is very commonplace.
    Over the years, it has been my experience and PSB's experience that Federal contracts have been awarded generally to two classes of company: very, very large security service organizations and very, very small companies geared primarily to pursuing this type of business. In many cases, as I alluded to earlier, the small companies offer their services under Federal bid without having the necessary operational infrastructure in the area to be serviced, and in certain cases, without even being duly licensed in the state in which the facility to be serviced is located.
    Specifications, again, and in that volume of paper, I have seen them often request information that is unavailable at the time of bid submission. For example, some have required lists of the names and Social Security numbers of employees to be assigned to the contract for which prices are being solicited. Requests such as these do not take into account the universal practice of recruiting, screening, training security officers for a job after notification of award.
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    In general, Federal specifications are overly technical. Proposed contract language often contains unreasonable penalties, and the industry perception is that contracts, once secured, are subject to onerous and recurring OFCCP audits.
    The combination of these factors substantially reduces industry interest in participating in the competitive bid process, ultimately resulting in fewer options, higher prices, and a reduction in the quality and the value of services contracted. Much could be learned from the longstanding best practices of corporate America in soliciting and engaging the services of uniformed security services. Generally, in that environment, in that arena, companies are prequalified. They have to demonstrate that they have the financial viability and the infrastructure necessary to deliver the services that are being requested in advance of bid participation.
    Contract specifications are generally more concise; standards are clear; paperwork is significantly more manageable, and the companies, as I mentioned, have to demonstrate in advance their capabilities before being invited to bid.
    Guard services are, in terms of cost, remarkably uncomplicated. Bill rates are the by-product of pay rates, payroll-related costs and the overhead costs which are clearly and easily definable. The qualifications of approving companies, such as its good reputation in the industry and its compliance with Federal and state laws—I know stories of companies that have been awarded contracts that are in default on their taxes—are critical issues which should serve as prior conditions for bid submission.
    As a minimum requirement, as I mentioned, these operational areas of infrastructure in the locale for which the—in the area for which the services are to be rendered must be in place in advance of contract award. Furthermore, contracts should be bid in no more than two or three year cycles. A prudent, responsible businessman needs to account for their costs, and to identify your costs 5 years in advance generally is unrealistic. So what happens is that it is the aggressive company that may not account for all of their costs in advance that might be low bidder on one of these accounts or one of these opportunities and ultimately will have to go back to the Government for extras and additional dollars which undermine the entire bid process in and of itself.
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    Clearly, there is an opportunity to simplify and streamline the process, thereby encouraging more participation by high-quality service providers, which ultimately will result in the delivery of greater value. And that is my story.
    Mr. FRANKS. Let me ask you a couple of questions, if I can. Are contract guards generally properly supervised, or along what continuum would your evaluation fall?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. The continuum is as broad as your imagination would allow for. When there is a company which is in the example of multi-location Federal bids, operating -- a very small company and operating out of the back woods of some rural area, and they provide a bid without that infrastructure, generally, what they are going to do is just exactly what the contract requires, not one molecule more, and the jobs are so-called self-contained, which means that the Government is paying for the administration and the management of the guard force, which should be a part of the overhead costs.
    And I think you would find in a detailed review of these contracts that a large majority of them would be in the self-contained area, where there might be levels of supervision at the job but very little outside support in terms of the supervision necessary to hold people together doing their jobs.
    Mr. FRANKS. What standards do you employ when you hire people to be contract guards, and again, do those standards vary across the country?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. All 50 states have varying standards. As I mentioned in—
    Mr. FRANKS. Standards are state-regulated?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. The standards are driven at a state level, yes, they are state-regulated. In some cases, they are county-regulated, they are county standards. In Colorado, they are county standards. So they are wide and broad and as different as there are, you know, different states and towns. There are states that have no regulation whatsoever.
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    Mr. FRANKS. That is the legal standard you need to meet. You need to be in compliance with the appropriate—
    Mr. ROCKWELL. That is right.
    Mr. FRANKS.—corresponding state or county standards established through legislation. Do you have a corporate policy?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. We have a corporate policy, and our corporate policy is to do 10-year background on everybody. We psychologically test all of our security officers. They are drug tested. They go through three different levels of competency testing and assessment, and they cannot work two full-time jobs, which is another standard which is—
    Mr. FRANKS. Cannot work.
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Cannot work two full-time jobs.
    Mr. FRANKS. Do most contract guards tend to work two full-time jobs?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. A great number. They are hourly employees, and a great number of these employees, you know, to make ends meet are working two full-time jobs.
    Mr. FRANKS. And you have found that the profile of an individual who would agree not to have a second part-time job or a part-time job makes for a more reliable—
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Yes; we have all full-time employees who work for us as their primary source of income. The reason is as simple as the same motivation for us not to assign somebody to 80 hours of work during a week.
    Mr. FRANKS. From your experience, do you have any understanding of the—in terms of the application of this issue we are talking about now, to contract guard services that the Federal Government enters into? Would most of the contract guards at Federal facilities perhaps have other part-time jobs? Or do we have any way of knowing that?
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    Mr. ROCKWELL. No way to know that. I can only speak, you know, for my own company.
    Mr. FRANKS. I would ask the staff to look into that. I think that is an interesting question.
    How do your guard forces interact with the local police agencies?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. There has been a wonderful evolution to a more mutually-supportive relationship of law enforcement. Reasons are based upon the simple tasks that security officers are doing, the police officers do not want to do, and the fact that security officers and police officers have very distinct and different roles in the area of security. The role that we play is we generally take the time to meet with local law enforcement; to get an understanding of crime statistics in the area; to be alerted to the types of foreseeable risks that occur in a general area so that we can advise our client and make adjustments that we need to based upon those exposures that are most likely to be present on a day-to-day basis.
    We also work with them in terms of their own reporting protocol for the types of incidents which they want to be notified of and the nature in which the forms and information should be presented so that they can more manageably handle that information. But the working relationship with local law enforcement is very, very good and very necessary, and it has evolved in a very positive way over the last 10 years.
    Mr. FRANKS. Two more. How do you ensure the privacy of the data that you collect, for example, drug testing results on prospective employees? How is that treated?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Well, you know, no different than anything else that is part of their background. We have to determine whether an individual is a reasonable risk for assignment, and the drug tests that we give, interestingly, before the actual test is given, there is a paper and pencil test which has in it elements which indicate a person's propensity. They are generally scheduled for drug tests on a separate day, and there is a huge majority of people who simply just do not show up, so the number of people who flunk the drug test is a remarkably small percentage, given the nature of drug—you know, the prevailing nature of drug use in society.
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    But that file becomes a part of their record and is only available to, you know, their direct supervisor and their HR manager. It is not issued; it is not published; it, you know, becomes a matter of that file.
    Mr. FRANKS. If there were three things that you would recommend for us to consider to open up this marketplace more, one would be a prequalifying process, where a company would be designated as qualified to answer the request for a proposal.
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Correct.
    Mr. FRANKS. What one or two other things would open up this landscape a bit?
    Mr. ROCKWELL. I would publish the opportunities in a -- I would get information out to the vendor community as to these opportunities. I would do a better job of getting the opportunities out there and published. And number three, I would take what has been the historical practice of trying to determine exactly who the assigned security officers are going to be and spend more time trying to determine the capabilities of the organization and streamline the process; reduce the amount of paperwork.
    It is interesting that we provide security to the Fortune 100 and 500, and they pay less and get more. They get better quality; they pay less, and it is based upon, you know, a simplification of the paperwork. There is just too much technical stuff in these specs, and it is too difficult to get into the system, and that is why there is a whole cottage industry of people who want to show you the way for a fee.
    And so, we have never pursued that.
    Mr. FRANKS. You say you offer these contract guard services to Fortune 100 companies who pay less and get more.
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Correct.
    Mr. FRANKS. You then underscore the fact that the complicated nature of what you would be required to perform or standards you would be required to meet in one of these Federal facilities makes it too complicated, and you lose interest in wanting to go forward. Are those—is that micromanagement by the Federal Government not an effort to raise standards and to guarantee a higher level of performance, which you say you, as a private company, offer to a Fortune 100 company?
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    Mr. ROCKWELL. There is a level of technical detail which translates into reams and reams and reams of paper.
    Mr. FRANKS. That you would have to submit—
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Which you would have to go through, understand and submit, and that is on top of all of the bidding regulations and all of the—and again, as you know by my testimony, I am not an expert on doing work for the Federal Government. But there are mechanisms that the informed few that are providing these services for the Government know how to take full advantage of, and those that play the game on the rules as they see it at the surface have a tendency not to win. It is those who know how to tweak the system to get extras, to get more dollars on a contract, to extend contracts, those are the few, the privileged few, that have the responsibility of securing so many of our Federal buildings.
    Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Rockwall, I want to, on behalf of the subcommittee, thank you. This opens up an area for our consideration that I think could be important in terms of improving quality and lowering costs, and I think this subcommittee is committed to that as we are any other objective, so I appreciate your taking the time to appear before us today and sharing your experience as a member of the private sector with providing these kinds of services to some of America's largest companies.
    Mr. ROCKWELL. Thank you.
    Mr. FRANKS. I appreciate your traveling to Washington today.
    Mr. ROCKWELL. My pleasure.
    Mr. FRANKS. Seeing no further business before the subcommittee, the hearing is adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 1:12 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]

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