Legislation designed to slash thousands of unneeded federal properties through a civilian BRAC commission and save billions of dollars was approved Wednesday by a House subcommittee.
The Civilian Property Realignment Act, H.R. 1734, would establish a framework through which an independent commission would review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, selling or other actions to minimize costs and produce savings for the taxpayer. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) introduced the bill and held two hearings on the proposal as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.
The legislation is intended to eliminate surplus federal properties as well as high-value but under-utilized property. The second type of properties are not currently considered surplus and would be difficult to sell outside of a BRAC-style commission, according to the subcommittee.
At the markup, the subcommittee approved an amendment from Denham offering a substitute version of the bill. The substitute would:
- require the General Services Administration (GSA) to consult with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure federal agencies submit recommendations for property consolidation in a timely fashion and incorporate GSA’s real estate expertise;
- remove a requirement for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assist the commission with some activities, but retain GAO’s oversight role;
- modify the commission’s duties to ensure it may develop its own recommendations for consideration; and
- require the commission to report recommendations twice a year instead of every two years.
The bill authorizes $23 million for the commission’s salaries and expenses, and $65 million for an Asset Proceeds and Space Management fund to carry out the panel’s recommendations. Net proceeds from property actions resulting from the commission’s recommendations would be split among the Treasury’s General Fund — collecting at least 60 percent of net proceeds — federal agencies and the new fund. Funds distributed to federal agencies would be subject to appropriation.
Markup of H.R. 1734 in the full committee has not yet been scheduled. The text of H.R. 1734 is available on the committee’s website (click on the amendment, which replaced the original version).