White House Advances Efforts to Improve Real Property Management

GSA headquarters. GSA headquarters. GSA photo

Agencies will have until August 11 to name a senior officer to coordinate fresh efforts to better manage and dispose of excess government property, according to a Thursday memo from White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

The directive also details the expanded duties of agencies to improve property management as called for in the legislation signed by President Obama in December 2016, which capped years of to-and-fro between Congress and the Office of Management and Budget over who sets priorities in the quest to reduce the government’s real estate footprint.

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Under the memo, agencies must ensure that each newly named senior official has “responsibility for overall coordination of the agency's real property program, and is positioned high enough within the agency to regularly engage agency senior leadership.” Appointees who take on the central policy-making role are also expected to have expertise in related law, regulations and policy and run the agency's “real property program to ensure an appropriately sized real property portfolio efficiently provides full mission support.”

Those duties also include representing the agency at meetings of the Federal Real Property Council, working with the agency’s chief management officer on budgeting and raising confidence in the agency’s real property data quality program. Every three years, the officer must enlist an entity outside of his or her organization “to conduct an independent data validation and verification of the agency's data and data quality program to assess performance and identify necessary improvements.”

The memo arrived a day after the General Services Administration—long the key player in real property management—published a new digital map of the government’s centralized inventory of real property from fiscal 2017 for all agencies. “The interactive map also includes improved search and filter capabilities that make it easier to view and assess the federal government’s real property holdings,” the agency said in a release. “Enhancing the quality and usability of the federal government’s real property data will boost transparency, help better utilize government assets and make it easier to identify properties for disposal,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy.

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