Congress is about to appropriate $150 million to renovate Social Security's Altmeyer Building. The agency had not requested any money for this purpose. I had earlier asked how many square feet there are in the Altmeyer Building. A reader was kind enough to find the answer to my question -- 213,716 square feet. If you divide $250 million by 213,716 you find out that the appropriation would work out to be $701.87 per square foot.
Let's try to get some scale on this. Imagine if you bought an old 2,000 square foot home that needed renovations -- just renovations, not an addition. If you spent $701.87 per square foot doing renovations on that old home you'd end up spending $1.4 million. Does that sound plausible? Office renovations are, of course, different than home renovations but do you really think that renovating Altmeyer will cost $150 million? Even if it does cost $150 million, does Congress have to appropriate all the money now? Such a big project is going to take more than a year. I'd guess that the agency doesn't even have a comprehensive plan to renovate the building. Could construction even begin during the current fiscal year? Wouldn't it be better to appropriate some money to come up with a plan and then appropriate money for construction once you have a better idea what it will cost? Aren't you inviting waste by appropriating a ton of money when you don't know exactly what the agency is going to do with the money? That $150 million would really help the agency deal with its backlogs.