Approaches vary on selling excess U.S. property

According to the White House, the federal government is the largest property owner and manager in the country, with more than 1 million buildings, structures, and land parcels that cost more than $20 billion each year to operate and maintain.

”Eye

Despite past efforts to shed underused and excess assets, tens of thousands of such properties potentially worth billions of dollars remain. The properties are “difficult to sell and move off the government’s books given both competing stakeholder interests as well as the cumbersome nature of the process for disposing of federal real estate,” the White House has said.

The Obama administration last year proposed to create a commission modeled on the process used several times to select Department of Defense facilities to close or realign, and several similar proposals have been offered in Congress. One of them recently passed the House and another could reach a House vote soon.

The chart below describes the plans under consideration.

ProposalWhite House PlanHR-1734HR-665
StatusSent to Congress as proposed legislationPassed House Feb. 7Pending a House vote
ProcedureCreates a 12-year Civilian Property Realignment Board to investigate disposal and consolidation opportunities for federal property. Agencies would recommend properties that can be sold, transferred, consolidated, co-located, or reconfigured. The board would have to report twice a year. The Office of Management and Budget would review the board’s recommendations and present them to Congress; recommendations for sales would take effect unless Congress disapproves them.Creates a six-year Civilian Property Realignment Commission to identify opportunities to reduce the government’s real property holdings. Requires agencies to annually report to the General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget on their property holdings and make recommendations for the sale or disposal of excess properties. GSA and OMB would make recommendations to the Commission, which further would identify one time at least five high-value properties as candidates for sale. The commission would in turn report annually to the president, who would send any recommendations he approves to Congress. Congress would consider them under fast-track procedures. Requires the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a Federal Real Property Disposal Pilot Program for five years for the expedited disposal of real property that is not meeting federal government needs. OMB would select among properties recommended by individual agencies. Properties must be sold at no less than fair market value, at an amount exceeding the disposal costs, and only in a cash transaction.
ExcludesProperties already targeted under defense base closing programs and facilities designated as exempt for national security reasons.Certain defense, national security and other facilities such as Coast Guard and certain agricultural or recreational facilities, and overseas State Department properties.Properties already targeted under defense base closing programs, national security facilities and certain other facilities.
Use of savingsPart would be used for the board’s continued operations and to reimburse agencies for their expenses related to the process; at least 60 percent of the net proceeds would be turned over to the Treasury.Proceeds from sales would accrue to the commission’s fund. Congress would control how funds are used to implement the recommendations through the appropriations process.Agencies and GSA would be reimbursed for their administrative expenses and all the rest would be turned over to the Treasury except for a small percentage to be used for homeless assistance.

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