UPDATE: The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved this legislation on June 29th.
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is set to approve S. 2178, the Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act, which aims to pare down the government’s surplus and underused properties. Its approach to resolving this issue differs significantly from that of the House. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the bill in March.
The bill differs from H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Alignment Act, which was passed by the House in February and would establish a so-called “civilian BRAC” commission to dispose of excess and underutilized properties. Instead, the Senate approach would create a Federal Real Property Council to better set property management policies across the government, require each agency to have a senior real property management officer to continually monitor property assets and make sure they are being used efficiently, and establish a government-wide property reduction goal. It also would require agencies to justify all leasing of large blocks of space and to dispose of surplus property within two years of the bill’s enactment.
According to a Federal Times article, Carper said that 80 percent of the money raised by selling unneeded property would go to reduce the deficit; another 18 percent would go to agencies for their property management and disposal efforts and the remaining 2 percent would fund homeless assistance grants.
Note: The Senate bill refers to the establishment of a “Federal Real Property Council” . The true policy wonks among you will recognize that, in fact, a Federal Real Property Council already exists – it was established by a Bush Executive Order in 2004 for very nearly the exact purpose outlined in the Senate bill. In his testimony, Sen. Carper’ said regarding the FRPC that he wants to “actually make it real”. Coincidentally, we referenced the Federal Real Property Council in the article below, published earlier today. Read on if you want to learn more.