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FDA FACILITIES PLAN CALLS FOR PURCHASE OF 400 ACRES

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

FDA FACILITIES PLAN CALLS FOR PURCHASE OF 400 ACRES in Montgomery County, Md. to house the Office of the Commissioner, Office of Regulatory Affairs and the centers for drugs, biologics and devices. FDA said it wants a 400-acre plot to accommodate future growth at the agency. The current facilities plan reflects FDA's original goal of having two campuses and replaces a proposal endorsed by the Office of Management & Budget during the Bush Administration that would have consolidated 15 FDA facilities into 10 sites and renovated antiquated labs. The cost of the OMB plan was estimated at $ 425 mil. Some members of Congress and certain FDAers have described that proposal as inadequate and instead favor the idea of two campuses. FDA also wants to acquire 150-200 acres in Prince George's County, Md. for new facilities for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Center for Veterinary Medicine. The agency may not end up buying land in Prince George's County because the county government wants FDA to lease facilities from the private sector through the General Services Administration. Reportedly, the county prefers this arrangement so it can collect taxes on the land. FDA's facility proposal also outlines the construction of Module II in Beltsville, Md., where FDA owns 220 acres. Module II would consist of research facilities and pastures for CVM. The estimated price for FDA to purchase the 400 acres in Montgomery County and to build at both Maryland campuses is estimated at $ 825 mil. to $ 850 mil. That estimate could increase if FDA also purchases land in Prince George's County. FDA said it is considering several large sites. In December, GSA placed an ad in the Washington Post seeking "no less than 133 contiguous buildable acres" in Montgomery County. FDA has $ 200 mil. reserved for site planning and land purchase and GSA's FY 1994 budget request contains $ 73.9 mil. for the two-site campus project. FDA is sending its facilities proposal to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala for review. Shalala is understood to support FDA consolidation. FDA said the first step to making progress toward consolidation is for Shalala to meet with OMB Director Leon Panetta and Deputy Director Alice Rivlin and hammer out a consensus on the issue. OMB staffers appointed by the Bush Administration are reported to be continuing to resist FDA efforts for greater consolidation through purchase of new land. If the plan were approved, FDA projects that by the year 2000 there will be 6,000 employees at the Montgomery site and 2,000 employees at the Prince George's site.
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