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Testimony on NIH's Buildings and Facilities by Dr. Harold Varmus
Director, National Institutes of Health
Accompanied by
Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, Deputy Director, NIH
Mr. Anthony Itteilag, Deputy Director for Management, NIH
Mr. Stephen A. Ficca, Associate Director for Research Services, NIH
and
Mr. Dennis P. Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Budget, DHHS

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
March 20, 1997


The Buildings and Facilities appropriation provides funds for the design, construction, improvement, and major repair of clinical, laboratory, and office buildings, as well as supporting facilities, essential to the mission of the NIH. The Buildings and Facilities program has a critical and exciting impact in terms of shaping and defining the very essence of the NIH campus as we approach the twenty-first century.

The NIH has developed an updated master plan that was completed in December 1995 and approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in February 1996 for the Bethesda campus. The aging of the facilities and infrastructure, the development of new technologies, and the evolving biomedical research programs at NIH have required a new blueprint to guide future development on the campus. The new comprehensive master plan identifies programmatic requirements in terms of personnel and physical facilities; establishes concepts for future development and land use, buildings, utilities, open space, circulation and traffic management for the next twenty years; and illustrates how needs for laboratory and clinical research, administrative, and support space can be accommodated. An updated Master Plan for the NIH Animal Center in Poolesville was completed in the Fall of 1996.

The NIH is contending with an aging, deficient physical plant. The majority of the infrastructure systems are 20 to 40 years old and beyond their design life. To address these deficiencies and plan for the future, the NIH has integrated all corrective and new construction programs into a comprehensive Facilities Revitalization Program. This Program was validated through an outside review by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in their report of November, 1991. The program represents a long-term strategy to coordinate and set priorities for facilities construction, renovation and maintenance in support of ongoing laboratory and clinical research, anticipated and unforseen scientific and technological advancements, and evolving research programs. The principle objective is to provide NIH with safe, functional, and adaptable modern facilities that are program effective and cost efficient.

In recent years, NIH has placed the highest priority on the renewal of the Clinical Center hospital and related research laboratories. The Clinical Center is the heart of the NIH intramural program where many basic science discoveries are translated into clinical applications that address the Nation's health needs. The Center is the working environment for an unparalleled confluence of basic and clinical researchers with a breadth of expertise across many disciplines and diseases. The resulting combination of intellectual and physical resources fosters quick and formidable responses to new research opportunities and to emerging public health problems.

In addition to patient related research, the Clinical Center complex contains approximately 40 percent of the research space on the Bethesda campus, and about one half of the federally supported research beds for clinical research. It is truly the keystone of the NIH Intramural Research Program. However, the utility systems within the complex are deteriorated, outmoded, obsolete, and insufficient to support modern research. Numerous distinguished review groups, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the External Advisory Panel chaired by Drs. Paul Marks and Gail Cassels, have confirmed the increasingly dangerous deficiencies in the physical condition of the existing Clinical Center and proposed the construction of a new research hospital. More recently, the Smits report confirmed the recommendation for a new facility and noted that its proposed operational changes can only be fully realized in a building with a modern design. The NIH has previously presented the plan developed to address these matters of infrastructure and operational deficiencies, and we are extremely grateful for the support this Committee has provided in order to carry out the design and construction of what is now known as the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center (CRC).

This new CRC will replace the existing 500-bed patient care complex with a new state-of-the-art hospital connected to new laboratory space. It will be located to the North of the existing Building 10 complex and ambulatory care research building. The plan calls for a research hospital of approximately 600,000 gross square foot (gsf) which will be served by an additional 250,000 gsf of new space dedicated to laboratory and program support. It is estimated that construction for the new CRC will take five years to complete and will be ready for occupancy in 2002.

Funds provided in the FY 1995 appropriation of $2,500,000 were used to investigate and evaluate different project development approaches and design options for the new facility. They were also used to pay for a design concept competition. The CRC project was initially funded in FY 1996 when funding of $23,000,000 was provided for architecture and engineering design and design development for the project. The FY 1997 Buildings and Facilities Appropriation included $90,000,000 to begin the construction portion of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center. In accordance with the intent of Congress, the project is being planned at full scope to completion. The FY 1998 request of $90,000,000 will continue the course of the project.

The total planned budget for construction of the CRC is $310,000,000. In addition to the $90,000,000 provided in FY 1997, the proposed appropriations language specifies $90,000,000 for FY 1998 and requests advanced appropriations for $90,000,000 in FY 1999 and $40,000,000 in FY 2000 for the construction of the CRC, which will remain available until expended.

The CRC is currently being designed. To date, development of the detailed program requirements has been substantially completed; detailed design is being developed for the relocation of existing Clinical Center entrance and modification of the site to facilitate construction of the new Clinical Research Center; and the verification of the project budget estimate based on the preliminary design concept and schematic drawings is being finalized. The next steps of the ongoing construction activities include preparation of the construction bid documents, demolition of Building 20, site preparation, and foundation construction.

NIH continues to place a high priority on the essential safety and health requirements of its facilities. In addition to the CRC, the Essential Safety and Health Improvements initiatives address the infrastructure upgrades to existing NIH facilities to meet critical occupational and environmental requirements to protect and support ongoing research programs, including the safety and health of NIH employees and patients. Supporting utilities need to be modernized and improved in order to meet safety and health requirements in support of the NIH research mission.

The Infrastructure Modernization Program (IMP), initiated in FY 1991, is in the eighth of a nine-year program to replace and expand central utility equipment and distribution systems. A critical situation has developed where sufficient and uninterrupted services to research and patient care activities cannot be ensured due to obsolete, deteriorated systems, overburdening from growth, and increasing program requirements. The IMP is critical to ensure the infrastructure capability to carry out the NIH mission and remove the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the central utility and distribution systems. This request includes funds to support expansion of the refrigeration building to house secondary pumping apparatus, chillers, additional electrical equipment and controls for the chillers and boilers in the Power Plant. Construction will also continue on a new utility distribution tunnel for underground chilled water and steam distribution piping service, and to replace storm, electrical, potable water and sanitary systems.

Other funds included in the FY 1998 request for the Essential Safety and Health Improvements initiatives are for the phased removal of asbestos-containing materials from various NIH buildings, for the upgrade of the fire and life safety equipment of NIH buildings on the campus and at the NIH Animal Center, the elimination of barriers to persons with disabilities, the last funding increment for the revitalization of facility reliability and safety upgrades at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Montana, the study, design, and construction of a multi-year program to address indoor air quality concerns at NIH facilities, a Biosafety Level 3 Lab at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, the initial effort to upgrade the utility infrastructure at the NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, and the rehabilitation of animal research facilities. All of these projects are driven by federal and local regulations, policies and accreditation requirements.

The Repair and Improvement program represents essential ongoing preventive maintenance, and major repairs and rehabilitation/upgrades to the physical plant that supports the main NIH campus in Bethesda, as well as to field stations that are the responsibility of the NIH. Projects of a recurring nature include roofs, roads, structures, and building utilities. Other projects are one-time occurrences that require immediate attention and are critical to the continuing operation of our research facilities.

This request also provides funds for the construction of a new child day care center on the NIH Bethesda campus essential for maintaining a minimal quality of life standard in order to recruit and retain highly effective staff for research and support of the NIH mission.

The FY 1998 request for Buildings and Facilities is $190,000,000. The request includes $90,000,000 for the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, the second of four planned funding increments to complete construction; $61,500,000 for essential safety and health improvements composed of $36,000,000 for continued funding of the site infrastructure modernization program at the NIH, $5,000,000 for the phased removal of asbestos from NIH buildings, $2,000,000 for the continuing upgrade of fire and life safety deficiencies of NIH buildings, $1,000,000 for the elimination of barriers to persons with disabilities, $1,000,000 for safety and reliability upgrades at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, $1,500,000 for implementation of an indoor air quality improvement program, $6,300,000 for a Biosafety Level 3 Lab at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, $3,400,000 for the initial effort to upgrade the utility infrastructure at the NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, and $5,300,000 to initiate the rehabilitation of animal research facilities. The FY 1998 request also includes $35,000,000 for the continuing program of repairs, improvements, and maintenance; and $3,500,000 for the construction of a new child day care center.


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