A group of Senators recently introduced legislation that would assist federal agencies in improving the disposal and management of federal buildings and facilities.
Known as the Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act of 2013, the legislation would:
- Require that each agency conduct an inventory of real property under its control, continuously survey its real property to identify excess and underutilized property, report any excess or underutilized property to the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Real Property Council, and establish goals that will lead to a reduction of the agency’s excess and underutilized real property.
- Establish the Federal Real Property Council (FRPC) and charge the Council with creating an annual asset management plan and establishing performance measures that will enable Congress to track progress in achieving real property goals government-wide. The membership of the FRPC will be comprised of senior real property officers from each executive agency, the Controller at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the GSA Administrator. The council will be chaired by the OMB Deputy Director for Management.
- Require the GSA Administrator to establish and maintain a single database of all real property owned by federal agencies. The Administrator is required to make the database accessible to the public at no cost within three years after the date of enactment of this bill.
- 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 agencies have the power to enter into leases on their own.
- Establish a pilot program to expedite the disposal of surplus properties.This will provide the Director of OMB the authorization to dispose of up to 200 properties each year with priority going to those properties that have the highest fair market value. Under the pilot program, GSA is reimbursed for the costs of identifying and preparing a property for disposal. Eighty percent of the proceeds of any sale of property will be returned to the Treasury for debt reduction while 18 percent or the share of proceeds otherwise authorized to be retained under law will be retained by the agency that owned the property, and the remaining 2 percent will be used to fund homeless assistance grants.
The legislation was introduced by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Committee Members Mark Pryor (D-AR), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Mark Begich (D-AK).
“It’s been clear to me and to others for a long time now that we can get better results and save taxpayer money by improving the way we manage federal property,” said Chairman Carper. “The Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act of 2013 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.”
Senator Portman added, “The government spends billions of dollars to maintain tens of thousands of excess or underutilized properties across the country. This is an unnecessary drain on the public purse and we can realize major savings simply by speeding up the sale of surplus and excess property and subjecting costly government leases to greater scrutiny.”