A House panel next week will hold a hearing to evaluate whether a BRAC-like process can help the federal government eliminate thousands of excess properties and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
The April 6 hearing, scheduled by the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will take a look at the White House proposal to create a Civilian Property Realignment Board to expedite the disposal of an estimated 14,000 unneeded federal buildings. The proposal, part of Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget request, calls for an independent board composed of presidential appointees to vote on recommendations for consolidating federal real estate holdings.
Since taking over the House Public Buildings subcommittee at the beginning of the year, Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) has highlighted the millions of dollars the government spends maintaining empty federal buildings.
“With deficits over a trillion dollars the federal government simply cannot afford to sit on money-losing properties and empty federal buildings. The federal government is the single largest property owner in the country, but the mismanagement of these properties causes millions of dollars to be wasted in the operation of vacant and nearly vacant government buildings, sometimes while leasing costly office space in the same areas,” reads a statement on the panel’s website.
At a subcommittee hearing on the subject last month, Denham warned federal agencies that he wants a list of excess and surplus properties, vowing to a request a subpoena if necessary. At a March 10 hearing focused on the General Services Administration’s management of federal property — and with his request still unfulfilled — the freshman congressman said he would not approve any leases from the agency until it provides a complete list of money-losing properties.