Disposal of Federal Real Property: Legislative Proposals
Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement
Wednesday's hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, entitled "Disposal of Federal Real Property: Legislative Proposals," will examine alternatives that aim to expedite the government's disposition of unneeded civilian real property assets. Currently the federal government owns and manages more than 900,000 buildings and structures and approximately 41 million acres of land worldwide.
The American people understand that the federal government is too large – not only in its spending and workforce, but in the amount of unused and excess real properties paid for with taxpayer dollars. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government now pays to maintain approximately 14,000 excess buildings and about 76,000 underutilized properties. In 2009 – the most recent year for which OMB has figures – it cost taxpayers nearly $1.7 billion to operate these underutilized facilities.
In May, President Obama announced a legislative proposal to create a Civilian Property Realignment Board, modeled after the commission that evaluates base closures for the Department of Defense. The Administration claims billions of dollars in new revenue will flow to the government.
This proposal, however, is not without flaws. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Administration's plan will ultimately increase direct spending by $60 million over 10 years and could increase discretionary spending by $420 million over 5 years.
Meanwhile, Congress is looking for real cuts that eliminate wasteful spending, and the Oversight Committee is at the forefront of this effort. Three proposals, in particular, will be considered by the Committee, including two offered by Oversight members Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Mike Quiqley (D-Ill.). The Committee will also hear from current and former Administration officials about the potential that these reform efforts offer.
It is our hope that we can monetize otherwise underutilized or unneeded assets and return those funds to the Treasury, thereby lessening the burden to taxpayers.