By ANDY MEDICI
Lawmakers are putting the squeeze on federal work spaces.
A House committee is directing that federal employees at newly leased offices get 157 square feet of work space per person or less. That space includes administrative and common areas such as conference or break rooms, employee workstations, executive offices and snack bars, but excludes space such as bathrooms, stairwells, lobbies, storage space, connecting hallways and utility closets. . .
That amount of work space is roughly 20 percent less than the 200-square-feet-per-person standard the government used for its leased offices nearly a decade ago, which is the last time it had such a standard.
The latest leases approved by the House panel last month are illustrative:
• 1,059 employees of the State, Justice and Veterans Affairs departments will each have 155 square feet of working space. That $216 million, 15-year lease for 294,000 square feet at 1800 G Street NW in Washington takes effect in May.
• 1,361 State Department employees, currently working in numerous leased offices, will be consolidated to two facilities — one in Washington and one in Arlington, Va. — before the end of 2012. Under that $345 million, 15-year 469,000-square-foot lease, the employees will be limited to 156 square feet per person.
While the US Government isn't a major player in Fairfax County commercial real estate, its policies set a tone for the private sector companies with which it works. It will be hard for a "beltway bandit" to justify 300 square feet for each employee under contract with the USG. And this was one and a half years ago.• 510 Department of Homeland Security employees will have 138 square feet per person under an $88 million, 10-year 147,000-square-foot lease in New York. The lease will take effect before the end of 2012. . . .