The White House Wednesday posted an interactive map showing one-half of the 14,000 unneeded federal properties it hopes to dispose of by creating a civilian BRAC commission. Readers also can download a list of the 12,000 buildings and structures currently designated as excess.
The Obama administration also sent Congress draft legislation, the Civilian Property Realignment Act, needed to authorize the administration’s plan to establish a Civilian Property Realignment Board to expedite the disposal of excess property. The initiative is projected to save $15 billion.
The legislation relies on the BRAC process by empowering an independent board of experts to identify significant consolidation opportunities and bundle them for a swift up or down vote by Congress. “This cuts through red tape and politics that too often slows down the process of getting rid of excess property and finding other savings in our real estate portfolio,” Jeffrey Zients, federal chief performance officer and the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, wrote on the White House blog.
Key elements of the administration’s draft legislation:
- It establishes a Civilian Property Realignment Board, with seven members appointed by the president; members will be real property experts from the private or public sector.
- The purpose of the board will be to formulate, review, and transmit recommendations for significantly reducing and realigning the federal real estate inventory.
- The scope of the board’s recommendations is civilian real property, and excludes real property owned by the military, or involved in national or homeland security, along with national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments and other heritage assets.
- The board will apply criteria to direct the property to its highest and best use while balancing issues like homelessness, parks and recreation, historical preservation and the environment.
- The board will forward its report to the director of OMB. OMB may only reject the entire report in whole, not specific sections. If the director approves, the recommendations are transmitted to Congress. Congress has 45 days to review the board’s recommendations and to affirmatively disapprove the act.
- The act does not affect or change current environmental law.
- It authorizes an appropriation to support the board. Sixty percent of net proceeds from sales would be dedicated to the Treasury General Fund for deficit reduction. The remaining net proceeds would support a revolving fund to, among other things, reimburse agencies for expenses they incur while implementing the board’s recommendations.
- The act mandates that the board transmit a report within two years to OMB that contains the board’s conclusions and recommendations on ways that the process could be more efficient.
In a written statement, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the White House proposal was a good first step. “The proposal appears to be in line with the principles the Office of Management and Budget agreed to at our subcommittee hearing and with the discussions and meetings I have had with the administration since,” he said.
He added that he plans to introduce legislation very soon that incorporates the five guiding principles he outlined at the April 6 hearing on the administration’s proposal. Those principles include: working to maximize return to the taxpayer, maximizing space utilization, reducing the reliance on costly leasing, creating value in underperforming assets and improving the overall management and controls related to federal properties.