Senators Blunt, Warner introduce legislation to reduce underutilized federal property

Friday, November 22, 2013

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mark Warner (Va.) introduced legislation to reduce the number of underutilized and excess federal properties, which could save taxpayers $9 billion over the next 10 years. Sens. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Roger Wicker (Miss.) are also original co-sponsors of the Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA). Representative Jeff Denham (Calif.) introduced companion CPRA legislation in the House earlier this year.

"With limited resources, the federal government needs to explore opportunities for cost savings," Blunt said. "This bipartisan legislation seizes on the opportunity to save billions of taxpayer dollars over the next decade by simply consolidating and maximizing the footprint and use of federal buildings and facilities."

"This proposal will require us to carefully review our federal real estate holdings and look for opportunities to downsize," Warner said. "By taking a businesslike approach to our current inventory, and aggressively looking for ways to consolidate and dispose of unneeded real property, we can sell properties we no longer need, and save taxpayer money by reducing maintenance and operations costs for years to come."

The federal government is the largest property owner and manager in the U.S., with more than one million buildings, structures, and land parcels. Real property management has been on the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) high-risk list since 2003, and GAO has estimated that the federal government could save billions through improvements. CPRA establishes an independent commission, comprised of real estate management experts, charged with reviewing the federal property portfolio and developing recommendations for consolidation or disposal. The commission will issue a report recommending individual leased or government owned properties that should be consolidated or disposed of to produce the best value for the taxpayer. Upon approval by the President, the recommendations will be submitted to Congress, which will have 45 days to pass a resolution of disapproval. If no such resolution is passed, the Commission's recommendations will gain full legal force.

The Civilian Property Realignment Act will:
* Establish an independent commission to downsize federal real estate. The commission will have seven members appointed by the President and Congress to independently evaluate the federal real estate portfolio and develop recommendations twice a year for 10 years.

* Develop disposal and consolidation plans with expedited review. The recommendations developed by the commission will be reviewed by the President within 30 days and Congress will have 45 days to disapprove the proposal. Agencies will have up to three years to carry out the recommendations.

* Mitigate stakeholder interests and reduce red tape. The legislation will streamline the existing processes that have prevented downsizing and realignment in the past that will generate long-term savings.

* Improve data quality on federal properties. This legislation will create a complete and accurate inventory of federal properties, including building condition, annual operating costs of excess properties, value, and utilization.

* Provide Congressional transparency for the Federal Real Property Profile. Provide access for Congressional Committees of jurisdiction and legislative support agencies to real property data to support greater accountability.

* Require $9 billion in savings from reductions in federal real property over 10 years. The legislation sets an aggressive savings target from the sale and consolidation of federal real property.