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Dueling Bids to Cut Office Space

GSA and Republicans on House transportation panel vie to shrink the federal real estate footprint.

Though not in direct competition, the General Services Administration and Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee seem to operate on different wavelengths when it comes to the shared goal of selling off excess federal property.

On Thursday the panel chaired by GSA critic Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., approved 13 resolutions targeting GSA leases and acquisitions to shrink the amount of office space the federal government leases.

“We are continuing to hold GSA’s feet to the fire, holding hearings in vacant buildings sitting on prime real estate, investigating outrageous agency abuses of the taxpayers’ money, and insisting that leases submitted to this committee cut, reduce and economize,” Mica said. “On these leases today, we had to push GSA to cut space and reduce costs to get real savings,” which he estimates at more than $180 million.

GSA, for its turn, announced earlier in the week that it was preparing an online auction for Aug. 7 to sell off the Moscow (Idaho) Federal Building, a five-story office complex with 107 parking spaces built in 1973. In the past year alone, the agency said, the federal government has sold or transferred 97 excess properties valued at $82 million.

From GSA’s point of view, congressional review of cost-savings lease renewals and consummations is taking longer in the current Congress than in previous ones. Asked to respond to Mica’s comment, a GSA spokesman said, "We appreciate the committee's work on these 13 leases, and we look forward to the committee's action on the remaining leases."