House Oversight Committee clears measure to sell excess federal properties
Bill would increase incentives for the federal government to unload an estimated $18 billion worth of unneeded property.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week passed a bill to make it easier for federal agencies to dispose of excess property.
Passed by unanimous voice vote, the bill would increase incentives for the federal government, which is the country's biggest land holder, to unload what the Office of Management and Budget has estimated as $18 billion worth of unneeded property.
The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., aims to address two key obstacles to real property disposal. According to members, the upfront cost of preparing property for sale is so high that agencies often see short-term benefit in maintaining unused property instead of selling it. To address that issue, the measure would create a fund that the General Services Administration, which manages real estate for other agencies, would use to ready federal property for sale.
A second common hindrance to disposal is some agencies' inability to keep sale proceeds. While many large agencies now can keep a percentage of funds from excess property sales, many small agencies cannot, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said. The bill contains a provision to ensure all agencies may keep a part of sale proceeds.
The committee unanimously approved a substitute amendment that requires agencies to develop plans for real property disposal and makes GSA responsible for developing and issuing guidance on how agencies should identify and dispose of excess property. Under the measure, GSA would be required to report to oversight committees on the status of the effort.
House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., said the bill has support from the Office of Management and Budget. Davis however urged strengthening the bill. He offered an amendment that would require OMB to adopt a pilot program that requires auctioning off of certain excess property.
But Waxman, noting the amendment would increase the cost of the bill, opposed it due to concerns about House pay-as-you-go rules. "Adding this amendment to the bill would effectively kill it," Waxman said. Democrats defeated the amendment on a party-line voice vote.