One of the more intriguing charts in GSA’s recent Congressional Justification is its “Summary of Billed Inventory” or, to put it another way, its largest tenants. It’s not a universally understood fact that GSA is the landlord for most civilian federal agencies. When private-sector landlords lease space to the federal government they are really leasing it to GSA which, in turn, executes an occupancy agreement with the federal agency that will inhabit the space. GSA is merely the “sub-landlord”.
Many federally owned buildings are also controlled by GSA and federal agencies pay market rent to occupy this space as well. Though there are a number of government agencies and departments that own (and sometimes lease) their own space, GSA is the landlord to more than 370 million SF of government tenants – in both leased and owned space. Among the largest of GSA’s tenant are:
Department of Justice: Trailing only Defense and Intelligence, Law Enforcement has been the fastest growing federal sector since 9/11 and DOJ is the federal government’s primary law-enforcer. Most elements of DOJ have benefitted from substantial growth but the FBI has led all of government with an aggressive construction program to build larger, more secure field offices. Between 9/11 and the end of this year, FBI is expected to have completed 25 new field offices, with several more projects awarded for completion in 2013 and beyond. Not only does DOJ occupy more space than any other federal agency but it also leases more private-sector space.
Department of Homeland Security: It’s no surprise that DHS would be among the largest federal tenants. DHS was formed in 2002 as a roll-up of 22 federal agencies and it now totals more than 240,000 employees, the third largest cabinet-level agency in the federal government. DHS is another product of post-9/11 largesse. Its member agencies provide – as its name suggests – domestic security. DHS’ mission includes a wide array of services including border protection (Customs and Border Protection), transportation security (the Transportation Security Administration), enforcing and administering immigration laws (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), emergency preparedness and response (FEMA), coastal defense (U.S. Coast Guard) and a host of other functions.
U.S. Courts: If you’ve spent any time talking to people at GSA you learn pretty quickly that the U.S. Courts, besides being one of its largest tenants, is one that truly requires the velvet glove treatment. Perhaps the U.S. Courts is special because it represents that mystical third branch of our government: the Judicial Branch (whereas GSA and most of its tenants are part of the Executive Branch); or, perhaps it’s simply because federal judges demand respect and attention. In any case, the U.S. Courts has challenging demands including high security, public access, innovative courthouse design and costly construction.