Thursday’s congressional hearing on the federal government’s efforts to shed its vacant or excess buildings will take place inside one of them — an empty, 89,000-square-foot property near the Mall — to highlight the problem.
“Sitting On Our Assets: The Cotton Annex” will be held at the federal building at 12th and C streets SW, which has sat empty since the Department of Agriculture vacated five years ago.
“Hearings like this help us illustrate our goals in improving the management of federal property,” said Justin Harclerode, spokesman for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, whose panel on oversight of federal property is holding the 10 a.m. hearing.
The panel is expected to debate whether the government should sell the 1937 building and land. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the property could bring at least $150 million.
Thursday’s hearing is the second in what Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced will be a series of reviews of specific excess government properties. A similar hearing was held in February at the Old Post Office building, also in downtown Washington. The General Services Administration is in negotiations with Donald Trump to convert it into a luxury hotel.
At least three bills are pending in Congress that would improve management and disposal of unused federal buildings.
The government has tallied about 14,000 vacant properties across the country. President Obama is asking that $3 billion in savings be found from shedding excess real estate, but auditors and private-sector analysts have expressed skepticism that the administration can meet his end-of -2012 deadline.
Unused buildings cost the government an estimated $1.7 billion to operate each year.