King Bill to Improve Management of Federal Property Clears Senate Hurdle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 11, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) Committee unanimously approved legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and a bipartisan group of his colleagues which would improve how the federal government manages its buildings and other property across the country. The Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016, introduced by Senators King, Tom Carper (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.), would establish a framework for federal agencies to better manage existing space in a more cost-effective manner and help facilitate the disposal of unneeded federal property.

The Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016 will now move to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate.

“Maine taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for government property that goes unused, and the Committee’s unanimous approval of our bill is a solid step toward ensuring they won’t,” Senator King said. “With far too many unused or underutilized federal buildings draining vital resources, our common-sense legislation will make sure that the federal government manages its properties more efficiently and that taxpayer dollars are spent more effectively. I applaud the Committee for its vote today and look forward to advancing this legislation in the Senate.”

Specifically, the Federal Property Management Reform Act would require federal agencies to maintain an up-to-date inventory of the property it owns, incentivize agencies to dispose of excess property by allowing them to retain and reinvest sale proceeds, and establish a Federal Property Council to develop uniform guidance for agency property managers to follow and share best practices in property management among agencies.

The federal government’s real property holdings are vast and diverse, incorporating hundreds of thousands of buildings and permanent structures across the county, and making it the largest property owner in the United States. In fact, every year since January 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has placed real property management on its list of “high risk” government activities, citing long-standing problems with excess and underutilized property; deteriorating and aging facilities; unreliable property data; and a heavy reliance on costly leasing instead of ownership to meet new needs.

The Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016 passed by the committee today would:

Require agencies to maintain a current inventory of real property, including information about the cost and use of their facilities and how these properties fit into the agencies broader management plan.
Codify and expand the duties of the Federal Real Property Council to ensure this body develops guidance and ensures the implementation of strategies for better managing federal property;

Incentivize agencies to dispose of excess property through retention of the net proceeds of sale as long as those proceeds are used to further disposal activities, investments in federal buildings personnel or for deficit reduction;
Codify the broader management framework of the Administration’s National Strategy for the Efficient Use of Real Property, ensuring these actions become a permanent framework for agency property management;

Build off efforts previously championed by Sen. Carper in the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010.

Senator King has previously partnered with Senator Carper to improve federal property management. Last year, the Senators introduced and ushered into law an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that authorized a pilot program to encourage more efficient federal property management by streamlining the process by which the U.S. Army disposes of unused or underutilized properties.

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