Money and Democracy

Published — October 7, 2016

Federal Election Commission moving to new headquarters building

Facility near Union Station will be smaller, more modern


The Federal Election Commission is officially vacating its longtime headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., and moving across town to a smaller, but more modern facility.

“We are still in the early stages of planning for this transition, and may not have all of the answers to your questions at this time, Edward W. Holder, the FEC’s acting deputy staff director for management and administration, wrote in an email this morning to agency staffers. “Stay tuned as we will be working on implementing a communication plan to keep you informed throughout this process.”

The Center for Public Integrity first reported the move on Tuesday.

The new FEC headquarters will be located at 1050 1st St. NE in Washington, D.C. — walking distance to the NoMa and Union Station Metro stops.

An exact move date is unclear, although the FEC’s current lease at 999 E St. NW, in the heart of downtown D.C. across from the FBI’s headquarters, expires in September 2017. The FEC has occupied its current headquarters since 1985.

The agency sent an email to staff this morning detailing the new headquarters. Among the new headquarters’ notable features:

  • The building is newly constructed
  • The FEC will occupy the top three floors of the 12-story building
  • The 87,000 square feet the FEC will occupy is significantly less than the nearly 137,000 square feet it now leases at 999 E St. NW. That will likely translate into a long-term cost savings for the FEC, which is now paying $5.35 million per year in rent. The agency’s annual budget is a shade above $70 million.
  • Among the FEC’s new neighbors: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Homeland Security Acquisition Institute; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; CNN’s Washington bureau and the Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer’s Assistance Center.

Commissioners at the FEC, which exists to enforce and regulate federal election laws and employs more than 350 people, have long sought a more modern workspace — one not designed for a bygone age of paper stacks, microfiche and physical record-keeping.

Earlier this year, Republican Commissioner Lee Goodman called the FEC’s current headquarters “dingy,” even “junky” in places, with “needlessly wide hallways and large offices.”

Democratic Commissioner Ann Ravel, who often disagrees with Goodman on regulatory matters, concurred at the time: “In many ways, our building doesn’t serve our purposes.”

Commissioners also expressed hope that better workspace would help improve notoriously low staff morale that the agency’s own internal watchdog has in part blamed on poor agency leadership and management.

Earlier this week, FEC commissioners and the General Services Administration, which oversees federal property, refused to comment on the headquarters move.

Republican Commissioner Caroline Hunter called the information “confidential,” while the office of Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said commissioners had signed non-disclosure agreements and couldn’t discuss the move publicly.

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