The federal government is searching for office space to consolidate Internal Revenue Service operations now located downtown and in Owings Mills, a move that could affect roughly 500 employees.
The proposed consolidation of several customer service and highly automated computer divisions is part of a larger IRS effort to streamline and reorganize, said agency spokesman Sam Serio.
"We're trying to combine functions involving people who largely work by telephone, either on taxes, order-taking or delinquent accounts," Mr. Serio said.
The U.S. General Services Administration, the agency which oversees most federal real estate requirements, hopes to combine the IRS operations as early as January.
The agency has sent out requests for proposals for up to 77,900 square feet, said Neil Skidmore, a GSA spokesman.
The potential 10-year space requirement could cost the government as much as $15.5 million through 2005, based on current market rates.
The GSA is searching for the space within an area bounded by Hunt Valley on the north to Pratt Street downtown to the south. Its western boundary is McDonogh Road, in Owings Mills, while Pulaski Highway marks the eastern limits of the search.
The IRS divisions are currently in the 16-story George H. Fallon Building in Charles Center downtown and the Rouse Co.'s 12-story Alexander & Alexander II building, in Owings Mills.
Nearly 300 IRS workers occupy just under 40,000 square feet in the Alexander & Alexander II, roughly 20 percent of the seven-year-old building.
Although its lease officially doesn't expire until January 1999, the government has been allowed to vacate since January 1994 because of a standard GSA lease provision, Mr. Skidmore said.
The remainder of the affected employees are housed in the 400,000-square-foot Fallon Building, a 26-year-old structure downtown that is in the midst of a $31 million renovation.