WASHINGTON, DC – The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), has officially begun evaluating a 100-acre parcel on the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as a possible site for the construction of a smaller, more efficient production facility. This facility would replace their downtown Washington facility, which is more than 100 years old.
The BEP is considering the BARC parcel, as provided for per Public Law 115-334 – the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill – pending further assessment of its feasibility. The move would involve the construction of a new facility specially designed for the BEP’s important mission of printing U.S. paper currency and other federal security products.
“The BARC option provided by the Farm Bill – and moving to existing federal property – is a pragmatic solution to our needs. The majority of our employees live in Maryland – 65 percent; and of those, nearly half live in Prince George’s County,” said BEP Director Len Olijar. “We are excited to partner with the USDA to assess this parcel of their existing federal land, while reducing their excess footprint of unused facilities, and to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baltimore, who have extensive experience delivering large, complex federal projects like this one throughout the region.”
In accordance with the Farm Bill, BEP and USDA, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will study the BARC parcel’s potential for siting the BEP’s new production facility. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this study will include evaluating potential ecological, cultural, water, public health and safety, traffic and other effects associated with the proposed construction. The team anticipates directly engaging members of the local community, officials, and other stakeholders, to solicit their input for these evaluations later this year, early in the NEPA process, to ensure the public is involved in the assessment process.
The team will also assess effects to existing BARC operations. USDA supports BEP’s use of the parcel and sees it as a benefit to the overall operations of the BARC facility.
“USDA and BARC are enthusiastic about the potential construction of a new Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility on our campus,” said BARC Director Dr. Howard Zhang. “This will allow BARC to repurpose a portion of our facility which currently includes a number of abandoned structures. We look forward to enhancing BARC’s future by sharing resources and maintenance efforts with a new federal partner.”
The Washington operations, along with operations at the newer production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, constructed in 1990, design and print all U.S. paper money and several other federal security products. The BEP’s Annex Building in downtown Washington would likely be excessed, while the BEP’s Main Building would be modernized as a separate effort and remain BEP’s administrative headquarters and provide space for additional federal offices.
Background: After extensive study of how best to ensure the BEP’s administrative and production functions based in Washington could efficiently continue into the future, the BEP determined that construction of a new production facility in the Washington, D.C. area and some renovated administrative space in its current main Washington facility was a preferable approach to renovation of both of its current facilities in Washington for both production and administrative functions. This determination was based on various factors including:
- Cost-savings – Cost estimates for constructing a new facility and renovating administrative facilities were lower than renovating the existing, aging production facilities in Washington, split between two facilities built in 1914 and 1938 respectively
- Improved Security Capabilities – A secure perimeter that meets federal building security standards is not possible with the current facilities
- Efficiency – A new, one-floor facility would increase efficiency as compared to the multi-floor, multi-wing operations in Washington, which, based on BEP production data, are not as efficient as operations at the newer production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. This discrepancy can largely be attributed to a more efficient production layout
- Safety – A new facility will ensure a safer, single-floor work environment for employees working in production, and a safer facility requiring less maintenance and modernizing upgrades than the existing six-story operation in downtown Washington, originally designed and constructed more than 100 years ago
- Flexibility – A new facility will allow the BEP to better flex currency production to respond to production needs that may change over time, and incorporate larger equipment not compatible with the existing production facility