Freshman subcommittee chairman focuses on federal real estate

Following through on a pre-election promise to improve management of federal real estate, John Mica, the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is counting on a freshman to head his panel's subcommittee dealing with public buildings.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., who performed similar work as a California state senator, said in a statement to Government Executive that his appointment "speaks to the need to do more with less" as well as to create private sector jobs. "As chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, I will remain committed to improving the federal government's management of properties and other assets owned by taxpayers, which is one aspect of reducing our debt and promoting job creation," he said.

Denham's background in the California Senate -- he once sponsored a bill to sell off San Quentin prison -- was a factor in his promotion, a Mica spokesman said. "Denham will provide strong and effective leadership of the subcommittee … to make certain that the federal government more effectively manages real estate and assets in its possession," said the spokesman, adding hearings are planned on the issue.

The General Services Administration, which has been the target of Republican Transportation Committee criticism that it fails to effectively exploit underused federally owned properties, declined to address Denham's appointment directly.

But GSA spokesperson Emily Barocas said: "Under this administration, GSA is saving taxpayer money by consolidating our properties, getting rid of the property we no longer need and working to more efficiently use the space we have. We're changing the face of federal buildings across the country by turning them into state-of-the-art high performance green buildings that are creating thousands of jobs and boosting new clean energy industries while we save taxpayers money on energy costs in the long term."

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