Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate intended to slash the federal government’s inventory of unneeded building and facilities includes a pilot program for streamlining the rules for disposing of surplus properties.
The 2013 Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act — introduced Monday by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and committee members Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) — would provide the director of the Office of Management and Budget the authority to dispose of up to 200 properties each year, with priority going to those properties that have the highest fair market value, according a release from the sponsors of the bill.
Under the pilot, the General Services Administration (GSA) would be reimbursed for the costs of identifying and preparing a property for disposal. Eighty percent of sale proceeds would be returned to the Treasury for debt reduction while 18 percent, or the share of proceeds otherwise authorized to be retained under law, would be retained by the agency that owned the property; the remaining 2 percent would be used to fund homeless assistance grants.
The bill also would:
- Require that each agency conduct an inventory of real property under its control, identify excess and underutilized property, report any excess or underutilized property to the GSA and the Federal Real Property Council, and establish goals that will lead to a reduction of excess property.
- Establish the Federal Real Property Council to craft an annual asset management plan and set performance measures to track progress in achieving real property goals government-wide; the council would be made up of senior real property officers from each executive agency, the OMB controller and GSA administrator. The council will be chaired by the OMB deputy director for management.
- Require the GSA administrator to establish and maintain a database of all real property owned by federal agencies; the administrator would be required to make the database accessible to the public at no cost within three years.
- Require agencies with independent leasing authority to submit a detailed annual report describing its leases; although GSA is responsible for leasing property on behalf of most federal agencies, some have the power to enter into leases on their own.
“[The legislation] will help to reduce waste and inefficiency by requiring all federal agencies to not only maintain a comprehensive inventory of their properties, but to also take a hard look at which assets they actually need and which could be sold or put to better use. The unnecessary expenses associated with maintaining unneeded properties are the type of low hanging fruit that we need to go after in order to help reduce our federal deficit and ensure that our government is financially responsible,” Carper said in a written statement.