Norton Introduces Bill to Reduce the Number of Vacant and Underutilized Federal...

Norton Introduces Bill to Reduce the Number of Vacant and Underutilized Federal Properties in D.C. and Across the Country

WASHINGTON, DC – July 1, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Concerned by recent hearings that showed valuable vacant federal properties spoiling D.C. neighborhoods, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to require the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide immediate public notice of federal properties identified as excess to their needs. The early public notification will help eliminate GSA’s extended delays in using or disposing of federal properties for redevelopment, giving relief to taxpayers. Federal properties will continue to be offered to other federal agencies before being put on the market to the private sector. However, the across-the-board public notice required by the Norton bill will provide the opportunity for local communities to plan for a potential disposal and redevelopment of the property.

In her statement, Norton noted that, “Recent hearings held by two different subcommittees documented how delayed notice had resulted in inaction by GSA, which did not move on the problem until the hearings were called. With silence from GSA about a long-vacant but large and valuable property, residents in the burgeoning M Street Southeast area of the District of Columbia went to the trouble of creating a professional proposal for redeveloping the property, as revealed in the hearing.”

Norton’s full statement follows.

STATEMENT OF
HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON
OF THE INTRODUCTION OF A BILL TO REQUIRE
NOTICE OF EXCESS REAL PROPERTY
JUNE 28, 2013

Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing a bill to make the General Services Administration (GSA) a more transparent federal agency.
This bill would require GSA to provide public notice of excess properties as soon as they are identified by federal agencies as such. Although excess properties will continue to be offered to other federal agencies before going through the normal property disposal process, this early notice to all, including federal agencies, the larger community and Congress, will increase transparency in how the federal government manages its property. The Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management has had difficulty ensuring that GSA acts as soon as possible to dispose of properties it has determined to be excess. GSA’s practice of delaying notice of unused properties to the public while it informs federal agencies only furthers existing delay by GSA in moving either to use or dispose of property for the benefit of taxpayers. Importantly, the early public notice required by this bill also will provide the opportunity for local communities to plan for possible disposal of the property.

Recent hearings held by two different subcommittees documented how delayed notice had resulted in inaction by GSA, which did not move on the problem until the hearings were called. With silence from GSA about a long-vacant but large and valuable property, residents in the burgeoning M Street Southeast area of the District of Columbia went to the trouble of creating a professional proposal for redeveloping the property, as revealed in the hearing.

Both the Administration and the House, where two property disposal bills are pending, have weighed in on GSA’s poor asset management and missed market opportunities, which continue to cost taxpayers significant sums of money. There are significant costs associated with GSA’s vacant or underperforming assets, including for operation, maintenance and security. For this reason, in 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) placed real property management on its list of “high risk” government activities, where it remains today. GAO conducts biennial reviews of the federal government to highlight specific areas needing added attention and oversight. Programs are identified as “high risk” due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or due to the need for broad-based transformation to address major challenges.

Still, the periodic GAO reviews, executive orders and memoranda issued during this and the prior administration, and acts of Congress have not brought significantly improved management of federal real property. My bill would ensure that Congress, local communities and federal agencies have the earliest notice that federal properties may become available, and would be a further tool to foster earlier and more efficient property disposal.

Previous articleVermont Awarded $2.3 Million to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning
Next articleTexas home search simplified with innovative IDX Broker software