Meeting Federal Agency Office Space Requirements
November 1, 2017
The US General Services Administration (GSA) is in charge of providing workplaces for federal agencies. In addition to constructing and managing government-owned buildings, the GSA also leases commercial real estate, to ensure federal agencies have access to the private sector professional services, supplies, equipment, and IT infrastructure they need to operate properly and efficiently.
Federal agencies have defined office space needs that must comply with regulations.
Around half of federal agency employees work in offices owned by the federal government, with the other half working in leased properties. The amount of commercial leasing the GSA does on behalf of federal agencies varies frequently due to changing requirements, but demand is always strong.
Leasing is often the best solution for meeting federal agency space needs, and in most of these cases, GSA leases are for less than 10,000 square feet. That means that smaller commercial office leasing companies, as well as larger ones, can compete for federal agency lease contracts. The quality of the office space is the GSA’s primary concern, but with federal agencies, many other requirements exist and must be met before a lease contract can be closed.
Space Quality Is a Primary Concern
In recent years, the GSA has fine-tuned their policies for leasing office space with the understanding that a “one size fits all” approach to federal agency office space is not practical across the entire, vast US government. Different agencies have different missions, and in recent years, individual agencies have had more influence in defining their own space utilization standards. The sheer size of the federal office space “footprint” is important, but not at the expense of amenities that are considered necessary in today’s business world.
In fact, federal agencies have, in recent years, come to see the value in flexible workspace solutions. During the government shutdown in 2013, for example, many federal employees turned to temporary workspaces when their government workplaces were closed. In these cases, not only does office space with the right qualities have to be located, it has to be done quickly, and without the commitment of a long-term lease. It all comes down to the federal government realizing it must have enough flexibility to act quickly, and in a more businesslike manner, to serve the nation better.
A Businesslike Approach to Leasing
A more businesslike approach to leasing has saved the government considerable money.
Over 20 years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) proposed a more businesslike approach to leasing to improve efficiency and cut costs of federal agencies. At the time, the GSA’s highly detailed approach to leasing meant that the government moved so slowly that they would often miss out on excellent opportunities to lease high quality office space at competitive prices.
The GAO reported that private-sector companies used simpler, more results-oriented approaches to leasing and were able to save money, move more quickly, and enjoy more business amenities than government agencies could. So, the GSA streamlined its procedures for smaller leases and issued several recommendations for improving the leasing process for federal agencies:
- Identify new and better processes for leasing office space for federal agencies
- Get authority from Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to try new leasing approaches
- Enable private industry practices to make GSA leasing more sensible and cost-effective
- Eliminate lease agreement provisions that are unnecessary or of questionable use
- Allow leasing officials to negotiate as private businesses do with prospective landlords for better office space value
- Negotiate “dollar-per-square-foot” contracts for leasing, as private businesses do
- Create a realty database for cost comparison and monitoring of commercial real estate availability
- Establish performance goals for federal agency leasing and track progress toward them
- Streamline and simplify the GSA leasing process to make it less costly and time-consuming
- Allow more federal agencies to negotiate their own leases in some situations
“Green” Requirements for Federal Agency Office Space
Requirements for meeting environmental standards have not loosened under newer GSA leasing procedures, however. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required the GSA to reduce energy consumption and required that starting in 2010, they could only enter into new leases with buildings that had earned the Energy Star designation. In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring all federal agencies to create performance goals, improve their energy efficiency, and support environmentally responsible practices. Since then, the GSA has taken major steps to implement “green” strategies, including new construction technologies and design of high performance buildings. Not only does the GSA apply this to new construction, but also to leases of existing office space.
The GSA even established the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings to be an umbrella organization for government green building initiatives, including leased office space initiatives. By the end of 2016, nearly one-third of GSA leases were in Energy Star-compliant facilities, and over 16% were in LEED-qualified buildings.
Security Requirements for Federal Agency Office Space
Leases for federal agencies must make provisions for security that meet GSA specifications.
Naturally, security requirements for federal agencies are stricter and have less room for negotiation than the security requirements for most private businesses. The GSA’s Office of the Chief Engineer is the office that develops policy and requirements for building security. Space leased by the federal government is covered under Interagency Security Committee (ISC) guidelines. These guidelines partition security needs into different levels based on employee numbers, how a facility is used, whether it’s a public-facing organization, as well as mission-specific vulnerabilities.
The bottom line for private companies that want to lease office space to federal agencies, they have to comply with the agency’s security guidelines as well as premises safety requirements.
Mobility and the Office Space Needs of the Government
Mobility of federal agency employees is another major factor that has really only become relevant in the past decade. The “mobile workforce” is standard in many industries, and the federal government is realizing the many advantages it can enjoy from having mobile-empowered employees. Of course, the government has to take security precautions that many private businesses do not However, mobile security is important to every business, and the technology for ensuring a secure mobile workforce has matured greatly in recent years.
Mobility, doesn’t eliminate the need for office space, as many mobile workers have come to discover. Virtual office space can fill the short-term needs for mobile federal workers who need to meet with contractors or otherwise transact business face to face. This type of office space is a relatively new aspect of federal agency leasing.
Metro Offices and Federal Agency Leasing Needs
With the many financial, security, and sustainability pressures that affect federal agencies, adding a needlessly cumbersome leasing process to the mix only makes things more difficult and costly. Fortunately, the GSA has taken several steps to pare down the leasing process while also ensuring that standards for security, sustainability, and office features are met.
Since many federal agencies need office space in and around Washington DC, virtual office space, temporary office space, and other short-term solutions make sense; particularly with an increasingly mobile federal workforce. At Metro Offices, we have three prime locations in the Washington DC area that meet these needs: Metro Center, Farragut, and DuPont Circle.
DuPont Circle is one of the most desirable business locations in Washington DC.
Our Metro Center location is directly connected to the Metro Center Metrorail station and is only two blocks from the White House. It’s also surrounded by landmark Washington hotels and restaurants, making it ideal for short-term office space needs that include clients or partners visiting from out of town. Twenty-four-hour security staff, a fully-equipped health spa, and executive valet parking are some of the great features of this property, along with a large stone and glass atrium that offers plenty of natural lighting.
Located at 1725 I Street, Metro Office’s Farragut facility is across the street from Farragut park, and within walking distance of the White House, the World Bank, and the Washington Convention Center. It’s well-served by transportation, with the Farragut Metro Station right across the street. Union Station and Reagan National Airport are also close by. The Farragut location is HUBZone qualified and features a 10-story atrium with marble walls and a waterfall. Like Metro Center, this location offers 24-hour security, a fitness center, and its own conference center.
DuPont Circle is in downtown DC’s Golden Triangle, in the heart of the Central Business District. The prestigious Connecticut Avenue location has a ground floor filled with retailers including a restaurant, bank, and day spa. Our DuPont location is close to foreign embassies and leading national and international corporate headquarters, and is also HUBZone qualified.
Benefits Federal Agencies Can Expect from Metro Offices Leasing
Federal agencies that lease from Metro Offices can expect extensive experience with both business and government agencies as well as a comprehensive list of workspace solutions to meet any federal agency space requirements. Square footage, configuration, and lease duration can all be customized, and pricing is at competitive market rates. All Metro Offices solutions are available under flexible service contracts. A federal agency can call today and have space available before tomorrow. Other benefits for federal agencies include:
- Office space as a service, for easy scalability
- Project-length service terms
- All the same services offered to private sector clients
- Prices by the person for easy expansion of teams
- No buildout required
- Mail processing as well as processing of overnight shipping and courier services
- Utilities, facility maintenance, and cleaning included
Federal agencies have to adhere to procedures to acquire office space, and it’s not always easy to do so in a time- and cost-effective manner. At Metro Offices, we have extensive experience in flexible leasing to businesses and federal agencies, and we understand the special requirements government agencies bring with them. Furthermore, with three prime locations in the Washington DC area, finding the perfect location is easy. We would be delighted to hear more about your office space needs. Contact us today or feel free to browse our locations to learn more.