One of the great truths about the American people is that we are practical thinkers. We work hard to make money for our families, and we seek out solutions that cut through the binds of ideology and down to the core principles of common sense. I believe that the American people want the same thing from their government and that I was elected to find common sense solutions to the major problems of our day.
Spending over the past decade has far outpaced revenue and the federal government finds itself deeply in debt with precious few options to reduce the financial obligations we have placed on future generations. Seeking to leverage the federal government’s current assets and generate revenue for the taxpayer in a bipartisan, commonsense manner, I introduced H.R. 4465, the Federal Asset Sales and Transfer (FAST) Act. I'm proud to state that H.R. 4465 was signed in to law by President Obama on Dec. 16, 2016. My bill is one of the truly bipartisan efforts here in Washington and passed the House of Representatives unanimously.
Simply put, the FAST Act creates a non-partisan, independent commission modeled off the successful BRAC commission to review the federal real estate in this country. The commission will put together a list of recommendations that will dispose of, consolidate, and realign the federal real property footprint to the financial benefit of the taxpayer. These recommendations will go before Congress for an up or down vote and will have the force of law. The legislation will quite literally reduce the size of government.
According to the government’s official watchdog, GAO, federal agencies every year report over 45,000 underutilized buildings that cost $1.66 billion annually to operate and maintain. At a time of trillion dollar deficits the federal government is throwing billions in taxpayer dollars at property that lies vacant, or half used. Unfortunately the government is near total failure when it comes to disposing of such property.
Agencies have said that their disposal efforts are often hampered by legal and budgetary disincentives, and competing stakeholder interests. In addition, Congress is limited in its capacity to conduct oversight of the disposal process because it lacks access to reliable, comprehensive, real property data. The government's inability to efficiently dispose of its unneeded property is a major reason that federal real property management has been identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a "high-risk" area since 2003. At GSA’s current rate of disposal, it will take over 800 years to get rid of all excess and surplus properties.
There are tens of thousands of underused or vacant properties across the country that if sold, could result in $15 billion of savings for the taxpayer. My bill, takes politics out of the process and eliminates the red tape that continues to obstruct the sale or consolidation of these buildings and is standing in the way of immediate taxpayer savings. CPRA implements common sense governing philosophies that increase government efficiency and save taxpayers money.