CVC Watch

Posted October 5, 2007 at 6:08pm

When the Architect of the Capitol and Government Accountability Office officially said last month that the Capitol Visitor Center would open in November 2008 at a price tag of $621 million, it was the first time in years that the two agencies have agreed on the project’s cost and end date.

Originally, officials had hoped the CVC would run $265 million, but the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, created security concerns that brought that price tag up. [IMGCAP(1)]

When construction began at the CVC in 2002, it was expected to open by the 2005 presidential inauguration at a cost of $373 million. Those estimates didn’t last, either. Here, CVC Watch takes a look at what factors brought those figures up, and how the AOC and GAO differed.

June 2003: GAO auditors predict $48 million more needed to complete project, bringing the total to $421 million. The money is appropriated soon after.

November 2004: GAO auditors predict costs to rise $50 million to $100 million because of construction delays and poor management. The AOC still predicts the project will cost $421 million and be complete by summer 2006.

April 2005: Construction delays lead CVC officials to predict a September 2006 opening. Later in the month, Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman tells appropriators certain portions of the CVC might not open until March 2007, but a fall 2006 opening is still set. Hantman also says a total of $517 million will likely be spent by the time the project is completed.

May 2005: Comptroller General David Walker testifies that the price could rise to $559 million and says a March 2007 opening date is likely. At the same hearing, Hantman maintains a fall 2006 opening is possible, with a price tag of $517 million.

September 2005: Hantman officially says a December 2006 opening is likely. GAO officials predict a summer 2007 opening.

February 2006: AOC officials ask for $20.5 million to cover “operational costs” at the CVC, bringing the price tag to $548 million. They also predict a summer 2007 opening. Later in the month, the AOC predicts construction costs will bring the total to $554 million, while the GAO estimates a $584 million budget.

September 2006: Hantman tells appropriators he expects the CVC to open in September 2007. He also predicts the price could rise past $554 million, but he doesn’t give a specific total. GAO officials are skeptical, saying a December 2007 opening is more likely. The cost could reach $592 million, according to the GAO.

November 2006: The GAO predicts the price of the CVC will rise to $600 million and not open before early 2008. AOC officials say the CVC will open in late 2007.

February 2007: Acting Architect Stephen Ayers predicts a summer 2008 opening for the CVC, with a price of $568 million. The GAO agrees with the opening date but maintains the budget likely will be more than $600 million.

April 2007: Both agencies project a September 2008 opening but still differ on cost.

August 2007: The testing of emergency systems likely will delay the opening until November 2008, the GAO predicts. AOC officials maintain a September 2008 opening is possible.

September 2007: Both agencies agree on a November 2008 opening and $621 million price tag for the CVC.