SEPTEMBER 17, 1998

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing.

Mr. Chairman, today we will examine the public building projects requested by the General Services Administration for Fiscal Year 1999. We will also be discussing 14 courthouse projects that were not requested by GSA but that are the Fiscal Year 1999 priority projects of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

I have long been a proponent of the need for close oversight of the public buildings construction and leasing process. This Committee takes its role in approving public buildings projects very seriously. This hearing will allow us to focus on not only the individual projects, but the process for proposing the projects to Congress.

Three years ago, the Senate unanimously passed a reform bill that I authored with the support of this Committee. Unfortunately, the House failed to take any action on this measure. But we haven't given up. I am very pleased that the Chairman of this Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee are also interested in reforming the public buildings approval process.

I thank Senators Chafee and Warner for joining me yesterday in the introduction of the Public Buildings Reform Act of 1998. It is very important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that all public buildings projects especially courthouses are appropriately reviewed by GSA and Congress. This bill is a step in that direction.

Mr. Chairman, I intend to ask Mr. Peck from GSA to assure this Committee that all of the projects we are discussing today have been closely examined by GSA. As you know, the courthouse projects are not part of the GSA budget proposal. That is fine. Congress can set its own priorities separate from GSA.

But courthouse projects must still be accompanied by the appropriate justification documents even if those documents are unsigned prospectuses .

We need to be sure that the courthouse projects have been scrubbed and reviewed by the experts at GSA. There have been some well planned and designed courthouses -- Alexandria, Virginia and St. Louis are fine examples. We need more such projects. We owe it to the Senate and we owe it to the taxpayers.

Again, I thank you for holding this hearing and look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.