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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Committee on 
Appropriations, House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:30 p.m. EST: 

Friday, February 16, 2007: 

Capitol Visitor Center: 

Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of February 16, 
2007: 

Statement of Terrell G. Dorn, Director: 
Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

GAO-07-507T: 

Madam Chair and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to assist the 
Subcommittee in monitoring progress on the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) 
project. My remarks will focus on (1) the Architect of the Capitol's 
(AOC) construction progress since the last CVC hearing on November 15, 
2006; and (2) the project's expected cost at completion and status of 
funding.[Footnote 1] 

Today's remarks are based on our review of schedules and financial 
reports for the CVC project and related records maintained by AOC and 
its construction management contractor, Gilbane Building Company; our 
observations on the progress of work at the CVC construction site; and 
our discussions with the CVC team (AOC and its major CVC contractors), 
AOC's Chief Fire Marshal, and representatives from the U.S. Capitol 
Police.[Footnote 2] We also reviewed AOC's construction management 
contractor's periodic schedule assessments, potential change order log, 
and weekly reports on the progress of interior wall and floor stone 
installation. In addition, we reviewed the contract modifications made 
to date and the estimates of cost increases provided by AOC and its 
construction management contractor. 

At the last CVC hearing, we reported that our assessment of the 
project's schedule and expected cost at completion was somewhat 
constrained because the CVC team was still analyzing the impact on the 
project's schedule and cost of recently identified changes required for 
certain components of the fire protection and security systems. The 
impact of these changes on the project is not yet fully known. 
Therefore, we could not thoroughly assess the project's schedule or 
estimated cost at completion and are basing our views on the 
information available as of February 5, 2007, including AOC's December 
2006 schedule. Our views could change as more information on the impact 
of these changes becomes available. 

In Summary: 

Since the November 15, 2006, CVC hearing, the CVC team has continued to 
move the project's construction forward, but because of delays 
primarily associated with the fire alarm system, AOC's December 2006 
schedule shows that the CVC will be available for occupancy in December 
2007,[Footnote 3] almost 2 months later than previously estimated, and 
further delays are possible. Over the past 3 months, the CVC team has 
made progress on the project's heating, ventilation, and air- 
conditioning (HVAC) system; interior floor stone and ceiling 
installation; and other interior and exterior construction work. 
However, problems with the project's most critical activity--the fire 
protection system--required AOC to extend the project's schedule by 2 
months. In addition, problems with many other important activities, 
including work on the East Front and the House and Senate expansion 
spaces, have not yet affected the project's completion date, but could 
do so in the future. These problems, together with other indicators of 
construction progress that we have been tracking, suggest to us that 
the project is more likely to be available for occupancy in early 2008. 
Furthermore, the project continues to face risks and uncertainties that 
could affect its progress, especially risks associated with the final 
testing of its major building systems, which is not scheduled to take 
place until July 2007. Since the fall of 2006, AOC has been 
implementing an action plan designed to improve the CVC team's 
execution of the project and the project's schedule. It is too early to 
tell what impact this plan will have on delays, but the CVC team's 
efforts to date--including weekly schedule reviews and frequent site 
inspections--provide greater management control of the sequence 2 work. 
However, to complete, or come close to completing, the project in 
December 2007, AOC will need to take action to mitigate any risks that 
it has not yet addressed and continue to implement its CVC action plan 
aggressively, focusing particularly on those actions that are critical 
to completing the work on schedule. Accordingly, we are recommending 
that AOC (1) reassess the project's schedule risks, develop risk 
mitigation strategies, and determine a realistic completion date, and 
(2) continue to aggressively implement its November 2006 CVC action 
plan, incorporating work on the expansion spaces and other building 
areas. AOC generally agreed with our recommendations and said that 
accounting for risks in the project's schedule will probably push the 
project's completion date to early 2008. 

As we reported at the November CVC hearing, we roughly estimate that 
the total cost of the entire CVC project at completion is likely to be 
about $592 million without an allowance for risks and uncertainties and 
over $600 million with such an allowance. We have not updated our 
estimate of the project's cost at completion with an allowance for 
risks and uncertainties. To date, about $538 million has been provided 
for CVC construction. For fiscal year 2007, AOC has requested about $26 
million in additional appropriations for CVC construction, a portion of 
which it has already received, and for fiscal year 2008, it has 
requested another $20 million in CVC construction appropriations to 
cover remaining costs. Based on the estimates we reported at the 
November hearing, we believe that, in total, AOC may need about $15 
million more than it has requested to date to complete the project, 
without provision for risks and uncertainties. 

Construction Is Progressing, but Delays Have Occurred and a Later 
Completion Date Is Likely: 

According to AOC's construction management contractor, contractor 
billings indicated that the overall CVC project is 90 percent complete, 
compared with 88 percent reported complete at the November 15 CVC 
hearing. The great hall and orientation theaters are nearing 
completion, although certain items, such as custom light fixtures, will 
be late. Seven of the CVC's 23 air-handling units were operating full 
time as of January 25; about 12,100 square feet of interior floor stone 
and 370 pieces of wall stone have reportedly been installed since 
November; and work has progressed in the East Front. In addition, AOC's 
Chief Fire Marshal has essentially reached agreement with the CVC team 
on nearly all elements of the fire protection system.[Footnote 4] 

Critical and Near-critical Activities Have Been Delayed: 

Despite the advances in construction since the November CVC hearing, 
the project's scheduled completion date has slipped by almost 2 months-
-from October 26 to December 21, 2007--primarily because of delays in 
the CVC project's critical path activity[Footnote 5]--the fire alarm 
and smoke control system. According to AOC, these delays occurred 
because the fire alarm system cabling took longer than expected to 
obtain and is taking longer than expected to install. Additionally, it 
took longer than expected to get approval of shop drawings[Footnote 6] 
for the fire alarm annunciator panels. The sequence 2 contractor 
believes some of the lost time can be recovered. 

Delays in many near-critical path activities have also occurred. Work 
on 11 such activities has fallen at least 4 weeks behind since the 
November hearing, according to AOC's construction management 
contractor. For example, according to the construction management 
contractor, the schedules for the East Front upper levels and the upper 
level orientation and security lobby slipped by about 7 weeks largely 
because of unforeseen conditions in the East Front and the need to add 
a conduit for wiring in the orientation lobby that was omitted through 
an oversight. According to the project's December 2006 schedule, work 
on the HVAC system has slipped about 3 weeks since the November 
hearing, reportedly because of delays in finishing certain East Front 
work. 

Because of the delays in the fire alarm system work and in several near-
critical path activities, AOC has extended the scheduled construction 
completion date for the House and Senate expansion spaces as well as 
the CVC. For the expansion spaces, the schedule has slipped by almost a 
month--from July 2, to July 27, 2007--according to the December 2006 
schedule. The near-critical activity paths include millwork, bronze 
doors, and above-ceiling work. Of even greater concern, the dates shown 
in the December 2006 schedule for completing several near-critical 
activities were within 15 workdays of the critical path, meaning that 
additional delays of 3 to16 workdays or more in these activities could 
delay the overall completion of the expansion spaces. Furthermore, the 
expansion space subcontractor has said that it has not determined yet 
whether scope changes requested by the government will affect the 
scheduled construction completion date. 

Finally, according to the construction management contractor's report 
on AOC's December 2006 schedule, the completion date for the Jefferson 
Building modifications has slipped by 7 weeks, because of unforeseen 
conditions on the basement floor and the contractor's inability to 
proceed with this and certain other work before receiving direction 
from the government. The contractor indicates that further delays are 
possible. 

Barring further construction delays, the House and Senate expansion 
spaces will be completed before the CVC's construction, but both the 
CVC and the expansion spaces will be available for occupancy at the 
same time, because AOC is planning to test the fire protection and 
other major building systems in both facilities concurrently. In 
addition, the project's schedule includes another 39 calendar days for 
installing artifacts and documents in the CVC's exhibit gallery. More 
time may also be needed to prepare for CVC operations, but this is not 
yet clear. 

Indicators of Construction Progress Point to Further Delays: 

The indicators of construction progress that we have been tracking 
continue to suggest that the project is not likely to be completed on 
December 21, 2007, as shown in the project's December 2006 schedule, 
unless the actions AOC is taking to improve the CVC team's schedule 
performance are effective in stopping slippages. As shown in figures 1 
and 2, the sequence 2 contractor fell behind in completing schedule 
milestones, and the contractor's billings continue to indicate delays. 
More specifically, 

* as of January 25, 2007, the sequence 2 contractor had met 2 of 21 
schedule milestones scheduled for completion by December 31, 2006, and 
completed 2 other milestones late (see fig. 1) and: 

* the sequence 2 contractor's monthly billings through December 2006 
continue to indicate that construction work is about 2 months behind 
the scheduled completion date (see fig. 2). 

Table 1: Sequence 2 Contractor's Progress in Meeting Selected 
Milestones Scheduled for Completion by-December 31, 2006: 

Activity: Stone stairs; 
Location: Great Hall; 
Scheduled completion: 11/ 17/2006; 
Actual completion: 11/17/2006. 

Activity: Wood paneling and doors; 
Location: Orientation Theater; 
Scheduled completion: 11/17/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Wood doors & frames; 
Location: Food Service; 
Scheduled completion: 11/20/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Install Hoods; 
Location: Food Service; 
Scheduled completion: 11/20/2006; 
Actual completion: 11/27/2006. 

Activity: Wall stone Area #2; 
Location: East Front Principal; 
Scheduled completion: 11/27/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Upholstered wall system; 
Location: Visitor Auditorium; 
Scheduled completion: 11/28/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Finish paint; 
Location: West Lobby & Assembly; 
Scheduled completion: 11/29/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Wood panels; 
Location: West Lobby & Assembly; 
Scheduled completion: 11/29/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Install Glass Wall North End; 
Location: Exhibit Gallery; 
Scheduled completion: 11/30/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: AHU 10/11/22 Mech. Ready; 
Location: Service level; 
Scheduled completion: 12/01/2006; 
Actual completion: 11/28/2006. 

Activity: Procure fire alarm panels; 
Location: Various locations; 
Scheduled completion: 12/04/2006; 
Actual completion: 1/22/2007. 

Activity: Plaster ceiling; 
Location: East Front Basement; 
Scheduled completion: 12/12/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Stone stairs; 
Location: East Front Principal; 
Scheduled completion: 12/18/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Ceiling stone; 
Location: East Front Principal; 
Scheduled completion: 12/18/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Wall stone Area #1; 
Location: East Front Gallery; 
Scheduled completion: 12/18/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Wood doors and frames; 
Location: West Lobby & Assembly; 
Scheduled completion: 12/20/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Hang drywall; 
Location: East Front Attic; 
Scheduled completion: 12/21/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Flooring; 
Location: Orientation Theater; 
Scheduled completion: 12/26/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Plaster ceilings; 
Location: East Front Ground; 
Scheduled completion: 12/27/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Flooring; 
Location: Visitor Auditorium; 
Scheduled completion: 12/27/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Activity: Fabric ceiling panels; 
Location: Orientation Lobby; 
Scheduled completion: 12/28/2006; 
Actual completion: [Empty]. 

Source: AOC's September 2006 CVC sequence 2 construction schedule for 
the scheduled completion dates and AOC and its construction management 
contractor for the actual completion dates as of January 25, 2007. 

[End of table] 

Figure 1: Total Billings by the Sequence 2 Contractor for the Entire 
CVC Project Compared with the Billings Needed to Finish Construction 
Work on Schedule: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: AOC's September 2006 CVC sequence 2 construction scheduled 
completion dates and AOC and its construction management contractor for 
the actual completion dates as of January 25, 2007. 

Notes: 

The early and late lines on this figure reflect the cumulative billings 
that would be required to complete the project through contract 
modification number 154 ($240.1 million total contact value) by the 
early and late finish dates shown in the sequence 2 contractor's 
schedule. 

The actual line reflects the sequence 2 contractor's actual monthly 
billings. 

Although bills are typically submitted for payment after work is 
completed, it is often likely that construction work will be completed 
on schedule when the actual billing line falls between the early and 
the late lines in the figure. Even with the lag in billings, this 
figure indicates that the amount of work being completed and billed 
each month is not sufficient to keep the project on schedule. 

[End of figure] 

Other indicators of construction progress that we have been tracking, 
including the number of proposed change orders and the pace of floor 
and wall stone installation, also point to further delays. The number 
of proposed change orders has continued to grow during sequence 2 work, 
even at this relatively late stage in the project. Proposed change 
orders that result in contract modifications for new work or rework 
could adversely affect the schedule, as well as the costs, of the 
project. 

In addition, floor stone installation has slowed considerably because 
materials, such as escalator parts, are being stored in areas where 
floor stone needs to be laid. Moreover, no wall stone could be 
installed on the upper two levels of the East Front for many weeks 
because site conditions had to be corrected. Wall stone installation 
started on the main level the week of January 22. AOC expects floor 
stone installation to pick up soon. 

Project Continues to Face Risks and Uncertainties: 

Problems in completing the installation, integration, operation, and 
testing of complex, major building systems, including the fire alarm, 
security, and HVAC systems, remain the most significant risk facing the 
project's schedule. Technical problems may not be evident until these 
systems undergo testing and commissioning.[Footnote 7] For the HVAC 
system commissioning is not scheduled to be completed until July 2007, 
and in the interim, much work remains. As of January 25, 7 of the CVC's 
23 air-handling units were providing conditioned air to their 
designated spaces full time. The remaining 16 units were reportedly 
ready to operate pending the installation of initial control 
programming, the preparation and cleaning of spaces for the units, and 
in some cases, other work. All 23 units still require air flow testing 
and balancing, control-related work, connection to the fire alarm 
system, punch-list work, and commissioning. [Footnote 8] While the CVC 
team expects the commissioning of the entire HVAC system to be 
completed in July, the achievability of this date is uncertain. Risks 
include an insufficient number of technicians with the skills and 
training needed to install the system, technical problems that could 
arise given the complexity of the system, problems coordinating the 
work of subcontractors, damage to equipment from excessive 
dirt[Footnote 9] or from moisture accumulating in nonoperational units, 
and delays in readying the spaces for the air-handling units. 

While work on the fire alarm system has advanced, it still requires 
substantial acceptance testing, as well as testing to ensure that it 
and the other major building systems operate together as intended. In 
addition, the project's schedule remains vulnerable to other risks and 
uncertainties, including design or scope changes, late identification 
or slow resolution of problems, and insufficient manpower. 

AOC Has Begun to Implement Its Action Plan: 

Since the fall of 2006, AOC has been implementing elements of its 
November 2006 action plan to enhance the CVC team's performance in 
meeting schedule dates. For example, AOC has been selectively 
accelerating critical work; focusing greater team attention on 
identifying and quickly resolving problems, including conducting 
frequent site inspections; and changing the criteria for the 
contractor's award fee to reward adherence to the project's schedule. 
In addition, AOC has been holding weekly CVC team meetings that focus 
on achieving the sequence 2 schedule; however, until recently, these 
meetings have not generally addressed the schedules for the House and 
Senate expansion spaces and for major building systems. While the pace 
of sequence 2 work may not currently depend on progress in these other 
areas, the completion of the CVC project will ultimately require the 
completion and integrated operation of all areas, and delays in 
completing the expansion space and major systems work could delay the 
CVC's completion and opening to the public. 

It is too soon to tell whether the actions identified in AOC's November 
2006 action plan will be effective in curtailing additional schedule 
slippages. Furthermore, continuing concerns associated with the CVC's 
HVAC system, if not quickly addressed, could adversely affect the 
project's schedule. However, the greater management attention resulting 
from AOC's implementation of the plan has the potential to keep 
scheduled work on track, and aggressively carrying out the planned 
actions is essential to prevent further delays. 

Recommendations: 

The Architect of the Capitol should: 

1. Promptly reassess the risks associated with, and the likelihood of, 
meeting, the project's schedule, especially with respect to the 
installation, successful operation and integration, and testing of 
major building systems; coordinate all work associated with the HVAC 
system; take appropriate action to mitigate any risks that have not 
been sufficiently addressed; and provide Congress with a realistic 
completion date; and: 

2. Continue to aggressively implement the November 2006 CVC action 
plan, including focus on the near-critical activities that can further 
delay the completion of the expansion spaces and the steps that can be 
taken to ensure that the pace of work is sufficient to meet the 
schedule. Also include work on the House and Senate expansion spaces, 
major building systems, and the Jefferson Building in weekly schedule 
review sessions. 

AOC generally agreed with our recommendations and commented that 
accounting for risks in the schedule, especially those risks associated 
with improving system integration, will probably push the project's 
completion date to early 2008 and its opening date to spring 2008. 

Cost Estimate Remains Unchanged, but Additional Funds Have Been 
Provided and More Are Likely to Be Needed: 

Our estimate of the project's cost at completion remains the same as we 
reported at the November 15 CVC hearing--$592 million without provision 
for risks and uncertainties and over $600 million with such provision. 
As we reported at the November hearing, the $592 million estimate is 
rough, and we have not updated the $600 estimate to reflect our 
assessment of the cost impact of risks and uncertainties. 

To date about $538.4 million has been provided for CVC construction, 
including about $7.4 million in fiscal year 2007 funds provided under a 
continuing resolution.[Footnote 10] AOC received approval to obligate 
this $7.4 million in December 2006. AOC's total request for fiscal year 
2007 (including the $7.4 million) is $25.6 million.[Footnote 11] AOC 
has also requested $20 million in fiscal year 2008 CVC construction 
appropriations to cover remaining costs. We estimate that AOC may need 
about $15 million more than AOC has estimated to complete the project, 
without provision for risks and uncertainties. 

Madam Chair, this completes my prepared statement. I would be pleased 
to answer any questions that you or Members of the Subcommittee may 
have. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

For further information about this testimony, please contact Terrell 
Dorn at (202) 512-6923. Other key contributors to this testimony 
include Shirley Abel, John Craig, Maria Edelstein, Elizabeth 
Eisenstadt, Jeanette Franzel, Jackie Hamilton, Kelly Slade and Bernard 
Ungar. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] GAO, Capitol Visitor Center: Update on Status of Project's Schedule 
and Cost As of November 15, 2006, GA0-07-129T (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 
15, 2006). 

[2] AOC decided to implement the CVC construction project in two 
phases, or sequences. The sequence 1 contract, for excavation and 
structural work, was awarded to Centex Construction Company, and the 
sequence 2 contract, for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and interior 
finishing work, was awarded to Manhattan Construction Company. In 
addition, AOC, which has overall responsibility for managing the CVC 
project, has been receiving construction management services from 
Gilbane Building Company. These services include coordinating the 
activities of the major construction contractors, monitoring worker 
safety, and providing AOC with status information for reporting to 
Congress. See Capitol Visitor Center: Priority Attention Needed to 
Manage Schedules and Contracts, GAO-05-714T (Washington, D.C.: May 17, 
2005). 

[3] This date does not allow time for installing artifacts in the 
exhibit gallery or for addressing risks and uncertainties, and it may 
not provide enough time to prepare for operations. AOC's December 2006 
schedule allowed until January 2008 for installing the artifacts. 
According to AOC, it is not yet clear how much time will be needed for 
operations preparations. 

[4] Discussions are continuing on outstanding points on the fire alarm 
annunciator panels--panels that display the location of fire alarms-- 
and special fire suppression systems for the exhibit gallery and the 
expansion space 

[5] The critical path is the single longest path of activities through 
a project's schedule. Each day of delay in a critical path activity 
could delay the completion of the entire project. Near-critical paths 
are the next longest paths through the project's schedule. 

[6] Shop drawings are submittals required by the contract that provide 
detailed information on work that is to be done. 

[7] Final acceptance testing is the last test of a system's operation, 
conducted to ensure that the system meets all contract specifications 
and relevant fire and life safety code requirements and operates as 
intended. 

[8] Commissioning is a systematic process to ensure, by verification 
and documentation, that all of a facility's systems perform 
interactively as designed and intended to meet the owner's operational 
needs. 

[9] Although 7 units were operating full time, the spaces being served 
by only 2 units were reported to be completely ready and clean as of 
January 25. 

[10] AOC has been operating under a continuing resolution (CR) funded 
until February 15, 2007, See Public Laws 109-289, 109-369, and 109-383. 
The CR allows AOC's projects to continue at a rate for operations not 
exceeding the current rate or the rate permitted by the action of the 
House of Representatives, whichever is lower. Accordingly, the $7.4 
million requested was available under the CR. 

[11] In addition, AOC's fiscal year 2007 budget request included 
$950,000 in AOC general administration appropriations for contractual 
support to complete acceptance testing of the CVC's fire protection 
system on schedule. 

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