I sense a metaphor, or three. From the Washington Post:
The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, billed as critical for national security and the revitalization of Southeast Washington, is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the George W. Bush administration called for a new, centralized headquarters to strengthen the department’s ability to coordinate the fight against terrorism and respond to natural disasters. More than 50 historic buildings would be renovated and new ones erected on the grounds of St. Elizabeths, a onetime insane asylum with a panoramic view of the District.
The entire complex was to be finished as early as this year, at a cost of less than $3 billion, according to the initial plan.
Instead, with the exception of a Coast Guard building that opened last year, the grounds remain entirely undeveloped, with the occasional deer grazing amid the vacant Gothic Revival-style structures. The budget has ballooned to $4.5 billion, with completion pushed back to 2026. Even now, as Obama administration officials make the best of their limited funding, they have started design work for a second building that congressional aides and others familiar with the project say may never open…
I’m sure the DHS could use more coordination, but with moden advances in videoconferencing and online integration, is putting “about 14,000 DHS employees” into a centralized campus of fifty-plus historically-relevant buildings really the best way to achieve this?
… During initial planning for the building to house the offices of the homeland security secretary several years ago, DHS officials raised concerns with the GSA, people familiar with the episode recounted. In the blueprint, employees with lower security clearances would have to pass through a high-security area to move around the rest of building. The DHS said this could not be allowed and asked the GSA to build a million-dollar addition to accommodate the employees with the lower clearances. The GSA balked. Tensions mounted.
The dispute was resolved by reorganizing the layout so employees with the same clearance level work in the same part of the building.
“It took a while to work through that,’’ recalled a person familiar with the project…
Well, that certainly bodes well for the final results. Maybe it’s just having grown up reading too much Catholic history during a contentious period, but I can’t help envisioning this project as an all-American analog to Vatican City — a wholly political solution to what was presented as a purely theological issue.