House Panel Presses Administration to Accelerate Disposal of Vacant Properties

A House Oversight subcommittee used the setting of a vacant warehouse in Southeast Washington less than a mile away from Capitol Hill on Thursday to hold the latest in a series of hearings highlighting the federal government’s slow pace in disposing of unneeded properties.

The General Services Administration-owned warehouse has been empty since September 2009 and costs the government $70,000 a year to maintain.

“It’s just a pattern of not being able to make decisions, and it’s remarkable given that we’re in the nation’s capital,” Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, told Government Executive following the hearing.

Michael Gelber, acting deputy commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, testified about the government’s progress in selling excess federal properties. “Since 2008, GSA has disposed of 93 of our federally owned assets, generating proceeds of more than $134 million,” Gelber said in his written testimony.

David Wise, director of physical infrastructure for the Government Accountability Office, told the panel that data problems continue to hamper federal efforts to manage excess property. Other challenges include disposal costs that outweigh the financial benefits of disposal; legal requirements such as those related to historical preservation and the environment; and the interests of competing stakeholders that conflict with the efficient use of government resources.

To read the witnesses’ written testimony or watch a webcast of the hearing, visit the committee website.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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