WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) this week introduced the FAST Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation to shrink the size of government, eliminate waste, and sell off unused and vacant federal properties, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016 establishes an independent board to identify federal properties to be sold and consolidated, saving billions of dollars in federal expenses and operating costs.
“Unused and under-utilized federal properties have been draining on our economy for years,” said Rep. Denham. “My bill will save us billions by cutting through red tape to change the poorly-managed property management system so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for keeping the lights on in empty buildings.”
According to the most recent Federal Real Property Summary, the government owns more than 254,000 buildings, comprising 2.5 billion square feet of space, costing the taxpayer $14.4 billion annually. Recent estimates show 77,000 buildings are underutilized, costing $1.7 billion annually. Though federal agencies have been previously directed to identify and eliminate these properties and freeze their federal property footprint, these efforts have been poorly managed and mired in bureaucracy.
The FAST Act establishes a Public Buildings Reform Board of members who are responsible for identifying opportunities to reduce the real property inventory and making recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and publically on the sale of underutilized and vacant properties. Under the FAST Act, the board would be required to recommend selling properties of at least $8 billion in value over six years. After six years, the board would be terminated and agencies would then have six years to implement their recommendations.
The bill also requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to create and publish a single, comprehensive database of all federal real properties, including whether that property is excess, surplus, underutilized or unutilized to prevent a future stockpiling of unused and under-utilized property.