Congressman Denham Introduces Bill to Reduce Federal Real Estate Footprint, Save Billions

Feb 14, 2013 Issues: Government Waste

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) today re-introduced H.R. 695, the Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA), legislation which would streamline the process for disposing of unneeded and underutilized federal properties through a civilian BRAC-like process in order to shrink the government’s footprint and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

“In the face of a nearly $17 trillion debt, we should be looking for more ways to eliminate waste and increasing efficiency in our government,” said Denham. “It is our duty to give the American people the effective, efficient service that they deserve, and this is one way we can work together to end the mismanagement and wasteful spending within the GSA and enact real reform with this agency.”

The legislation, which Denham introduced last Congress and passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 259-164, would establish a framework through which an independent commission would review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, selling or other actions to minimize costs and produce savings for the taxpayer.

Denham’s bill encompasses five key principles for reforming the process, including: working to maximize return to the taxpayer, maximizing space utilization, reducing the reliance on costly leasing, creating value in underperforming assets and improving the overall management and controls related to federal properties.

Throughout the duration of the 112th Congress, Rep. Denham led a series of field hearings as Chairman on the Subcommittee with oversight on Public Buildings at various vacant and underutilized federal properties around the country to highlight the need to save billions of taxpayer dollars by improving management of federally owned assets and property.

In 2009, the operation of underutilized federally-owned buildings cost taxpayers $1.7 billion, and another $134 million for excess buildings, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates CPRA could generate $15 billion in revenue from property sales, in addition to the billions more generated from future cost avoidance from simply owning less property.

The Civilian Property Realignment would establish a framework through which an independent commission would review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, selling or other actions to minimize costs and produce savings for the taxpayer. More information on the bill’s provisions are included below:

The Civilian Property Realignment Act

Establishes A Real Property Commission: Establishes a nine person Civilian Property Realignment Commission whose purpose is to:

  • Consolidate the footprint of federal buildings and facilities;
  • Maximize the utilization rate of federal buildings and facilities;
  • Reduce the reliance on costly leased space;
  • Sell or redevelop high value assets that are underutilized to obtain the highest and best value for the taxpayer;
  • Reduce the operating and maintenance costs of federal civilian real properties through the realignment of other real properties by consolidating, co-locating, and reconfiguring space, and other operational efficiencies;
  • Reduce redundancy, overlap, and costs associated with field offices;
  • Facilitate and expedite the sale or disposal of unneeded civilian properties; and
  • Assist Federal agencies in achieving the Government’s sustainability goals by reducing excess space, inventory, and energy consumption, as well as by leveraging new technologies.

Takes Politics Out of the Process: The legislation provides for expedited review and up or down consideration of the Commission’s recommendations, just like in the BRAC process. Congress would have the opportunity to approve of the committees’ recommendations en bloc only, not in a piece meal fashion ensuring politics is removed from the process.

Saves More than $15 Billion: Analysis by OMB states the taxpayer benefit of this legislation will be at least $15 billion, with the potential for much greater savings.

Deals Exclusively with Public Properties: Military instillations, properties deemed essential for reasons of national security, and national parks are not subject to the board’s jurisdiction.