Saturday, February 25, 2012

New DHS Headquarters: Largest Federal Project Since Construction of the Pentagon.

US Dept of Homeland Security Headquarters, Washington DC, Phase 1
Since the creation of the Office of Homeland Security 11 days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Department Homeland Security (DHS) has more than 230,000 employees. The problem is they do not have an official home.

So, in an effort to consolidate the Department of Homeland Security's workforce, now scattered across 55 campuses, into a central headquarters, a huge construction project is underway, the largest one in the country.  Pictured above is phase 1 of the new DHS headquarters on the campus of  what used to be St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital, the nation's first major federally run psychiatric institution founded in 1852. It is located in southeast section of Washington, DC.  This project is the largest federal project since the Pentagon.

Thankfully, this huge project has been pushed back 5-years:
Originally, the DHS headquarters plan carried a price tag of $3.45 billion and aimed to relocate 14,000 workers from more than 180 offices to the campus of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast Washington by fiscal 2016. But, according to December projections, the project will cost at least $3.96 billion and won't be complete until the end of fiscal 2021, delaying the relocation of more than 10,000 workers by up to five years. Only the Coast Guard headquarters is expected to be completed on schedule in spring 2013.
Thankfully, because this is the same agency that has an $11 million contract with General Dynamics to monitor Web activity, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and  news sites. The only reason we even know about this is that the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained 300 documents through a Freedom of Information Act request which detailed how DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security.” DHS has been surveying public online posts since as early as 2006.
The monitoring involves looking at “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards, and disseminate information to "federal, state, local, and foreign government and private sector partners." - EPIC
Can you imagine the power DHS will have consolidated in an area that has the potential to house 60,000 employees?

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