House OKs plan to move FDA offices

Agency seeks to base divisions at old Navy base in Montgomery County

September 23, 2004|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives approved an amendment yesterday that would consolidate four Food and Drug Administration labs and offices into an $88.7 million campus on the grounds of the former naval base in White Oak, Md.

The amendment was added to a spending bill for the Treasury and Transportation departments that the House passed with a 397-12 vote. It would allow the FDA to proceed with plans to create a facility with office and research space for more than 7,700 employees.

"With the additional $88.7 million we secured for the FDA consolidation project today, a total of $315 million has been dedicated to this important project during the past six fiscal years and has brought this consolidation closer to completion," Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat who led the effort to pay for the relocation project, said in a statement.

President Bush's budget for the 2004 fiscal year would have eliminated funding for the FDA to consolidate its facilities had it not been for an earlier Hoyer amendment that retained $42 million to fund the consolidation efforts this year.

The FDA has offices scattered over 40 buildings at 18 locations in the Washington area, including a Life Sciences Laboratory that was moved in December to the White Oak site in Montgomery County.

For two decades, the agency has tried to modernize and combine its programs. Since the White Oak Naval Surface Warfare Center closed in 1995, Hoyer has pressed to convert the 130-acre site into a base for the FDA.

The new buildings will replace the scattered sites of the Office of the Commissioner, the Office of Regulatory Affairs, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

"This campus will be filled with some of the nation's top researchers who will be working to ensure that prescription drugs, medical devices and biological products are safe and effective," Hoyer said.

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