A consolidation move is under way for state agency office space in Thurston County.
Two more state agencies plan to relocate pieces of their operations to smaller offices in Olympia and Lacey by June, bringing like- situated activities under the same roof and saving $800,000 a year in rent, officials say.
The musical-chair moves involve sub-agencies of the Department of Social and Health Services and the Employment Security Department. The governor’s Office of Financial Management announced the moves last week and said two office locations will be vacated – one each in Lacey and Olympia.
“There are a couple of advantages for the agencies themselves. One is it consolidates more of the DSHS and Employment Security offices together, which is helpful … for planning and coordination,” Financial Management spokesman Glenn Kuper said, calling the moves a realignment. “It makes them more efficient. At the same time, it addresses problematic building conditions, at Employment Security especially.”
An aging building to be vacated in Lacey is owned by Prium Cos. of Tacoma, and the Maple Park building to be vacated in Olympia is owned by the state.
Prium officials did not return a call seeking comment about losing the Employment Security lease. The state-owned Maple Park building has water-intrusion problems including seepage into its basement, agency spokesman Bill Tarrow said.
About 815 people could be affected by the changes that are scheduled to be completed by June 30. The DSHS moves begin in November; moves start later for Employment Security.
The two agencies’ moves come at a time other agencies also are moving or consolidating.
• The Department of Information Services is moving its staff next fall into a headquarters and data center under construction east of the Capitol Campus. The Office of Financial Management is moving some of its staff, and the Department of Personnel is moving its entire 200-worker agency into surplus space at the Information Services building.
The DIS-related moves are adding $2.7 million a year to all three agencies’ rent costs. Those new costs will be passed on to other agencies through fee-based services that Information Services, Financial Management and Personnel provide, Kuper has said.
• The Department of Commerce is relocating its 308 remaining headquarters workers from two buildings near the Capitol Campus into one recently renovated building along Plum Street in Olympia. Joe Olson, assistant director for administrative services at Commerce, said the agency is consolidating offices from the Raad Building and also the Davis Williams Building, both of which are on Columbia Street north of the Capitol Campus.
The Davis Williams building is owned by the Washington State Labor Council; the new space is owned by Arlington-based Vine Street Associates, which also holds leases to some of the new space that DSHS is moving into in downtown Olympia.
“We’re moving it in sections by weekends. So every weekend, we’re moving in a little bit,” Olson said Friday, predicting the moves will be done Sept. 27 – just ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline for vacating the Labor Council property.
“The move is revenue-neutral. The overall (rent) is a cost savings for the state,” Olson said. “The cost savings over 10 years would be $1.8 million.” The estimated $180,000-a-year savings reduces annual lease outlays at Commerce to about $1.8 million, Olson said.
Commerce also is reducing its space from about 92,000 square feet to 71,000, which leaves relocated workers in “much tighter quarters than before,” Olson said. The agency has shrunk in the past year, losing 24 positions through a reorganization that shifted some department functions to other agencies and 20 to layoffs, Olson said.
The move at the various agencies to smaller, centrally located space mirrors an overall state push in recent years to consolidate operations.
DSHS, for instance, already has begun moving some of its operations out of what’s called the Blake complex along 10th Avenue in Lacey, according to Jim Carter, director of DSHS’ operations support and services division. He said the Social Service Payment Systems office and the Division of Fraud Investigations both are moving into Office Building 2 on the Capitol Campus, where the agency headquarters has space opened up by recent downsizing.
And the Office of Financial Recovery is moving from Lacey into Town Square I, a building owned by Vine Street Associations. The new site is closer to DSHS’ Economic Services Administration headquarters near Olympia’s City Hall.
“We’re really trying to take advantage of some available space due to the downsizing of the department and consolidate some programs in less space. That is freeing up some space that Employment Security will then occupy” in Lacey, Carter said.
DSHS is saving about $750,000 in rent and eliminating 48,000 square feet from what it had leased, while ESD saves about $50,000 and 3,700 square feet.
Employees appear to be OK with it.
“I think they recognize, one, we are consolidating space and bringing them closer together to work, and secondly, they recognize we are saving money, which they all recognize is important in these times,” Carter said.
At Employment Security, spokesman Tarrow said the moves will begin in December or early January, when the human resources staff vacates the 106 Maple Park Drive building on the East Capitol Campus and a WorkSource integration office moves out of the Prium Building – with both units going to a new site still under negotiation in Olympia.
The Prium-owned space at Lacey’s Woodland Square Loop is “a bit worn,” and staff members will be moving into smaller but “better accommodation” that costs less for taxpayers, Tarrow said.
“We had some issues with heating and the HVAC system and things of that nature” in Lacey, he said.
The other ESD moves come after January and before June.
“We basically had our announcement today to staff. An e-mail went out from Paul Trause to employees that we were having these changes,” Tarrow said Friday. “I believe they will be welcomed by staff.”
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/politicsblog
WHO'S WHERE AND WHEN
State agencies plan more office moves – this time to save money and vacate 51,700 square feet of rented space. An estimated 815 employees are affected in the Employment Security Department and the Department of Social and Health Services. The moves, due for completion by June 30, are as follows (estimated number of affected employees is in parentheses):
• DSHS’ Office of Financial Recovery moves from 4450 10th Ave. S.E. in Lacey to 621 Eighth Ave. in Olympia – closer to the agency’s Economic Services Administration headquarters (60 people).
• DSHS’ Social Service Payment Systems and Division of Fraud Investigations move from 4450 10th Ave. S.E. in Lacey to Office Building 2 at 1115 Washington St. S.E. in Olympia (60 people).
• DSHS’ Aging and Disability Services Administration moves from 640 Woodland Square Loop in Lacey to 4500 and 4450 10th Ave. S.E. in Lacey (300 people).
• Employment Security’s Lacey headquarters office moves from 605 Woodland Square Loop in Lacey to 640 Woodland Square Loop (300 people).
• Employment Security’s WorkSource Integration Division moves from 605 Woodland Square Loop in Lacey to 124 10th Ave. in Olympia (45 people).
• Employment Security’s human resources office moves from 106 Maple Park Ave. in Olympia to 124 10th Ave. S.E. in Olympia (50 people).
Source: Washington Office of Financial Management