H.R. 4465, Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act

H.R. 4465

Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act

Date
May 23, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Robert Goad

Floor Situation

On Monday, May 23, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4465, the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4465 was introduced on February 4, 2016, by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on April 14, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4465 establishes a Public Buildings Reform Board of members who will identify opportunities to reduce the real property inventory and make recommendations for the sale of up to $8 billion worth of underutilized and vacant federal properties.

The Board will be comprised of a Chair appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and six members appointed by the President. The President shall consult with the Speaker (on 2 appointments), Minority Leader of the House (on 1 appointment), Majority Leader of the Senate (on 2 appointments), and Minority Leader of the Senate (on 1 appointment) when selecting individuals. The Board is provided resources for travel and expenses and an Executive Director.  Staff must be detailed from existing agency workforces, and the Board ceases operations in six years.

Each federal agency shall submit to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): (1) current data on all federal civilian real properties owned, leased, or controlled by each agency; (2) recommendations on such properties that can be disposed of or outleased or that otherwise no longer meet agency needs or that can be transferred, exchanged, consolidated, co-located, reconfigured, or redeveloped; and (3) recommendations on operational efficiencies that the government can realize in its operation and maintenance of such properties. The OMB shall review agency recommendations, develop standards for reviewing such recommendations, and submit such standards and its recommendations to the Board.

The Board shall: (1) identify at least five federal civilian properties not on the list of surplus or excess properties that have a total fair market value of not less than $500 million and not more than $750 million, (2) transmit a list of such properties to the OMB and Congress as Board recommendations, (3) analyze the inventory of federal civilian real property and the associated agency recommendations, (4) implement an accounting system to evaluate the cost of and returns on recommendations, and (5) report its conclusions and recommendations to the OMB. The Board’s first report shall include transactions valued, in total, at not more than $2.5 billion and its second report shall include transactions valued, in total, at not more than $4.75 billion.

The OMB shall: (1) review Board recommendations and transmit to the Board and Congress a report on its approval or disapproval of such recommendations, and (2) report information about the properties involved to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Each agency shall: (1) submit a report of excess to the GSA regarding the federal civilian properties for which recommendations have been approved (which properties shall be sold by the GSA for fair market value), (2) immediately begin preparation to carry out the Board’s recommendations after the OMB transmits such recommendations to Congress, (3) initiate all activities necessary for implementation of such recommendations not later than two years after such transmittal, and (4) complete implementation within six years after transmittal unless extenuating circumstances prevent timely completion.

Except for the initial sales of at least $500 million worth of properties (which are to directly go to sale), HUD shall identify any suitable properties for use as a property benefitting the mission of assistance to the homeless for the purposes of further screening pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The OMB may exclude from the Board’s recommendations properties that are not suitable to benefit the homeless but that the OMB determines are suitable for use as a state or local public park or recreation area.

The Government Accountability Office shall annually review and report to Congress on agency implementation activities under this Act.

Post-Board Recommendations, the net proceeds from the transfer of excess real property to another federal agency or from the sale, lease, or other disposition of surplus real property shall be deposited into the real property account of the agency that had custody of the real property at the time it was determined to be excess. Such proceeds may be expended only as authorized in annual appropriations Acts. Any net proceeds that are not expended shall be used for deficit reduction. The net proceeds of the disposition, lease, or transfer of excess personal property shall be deposited in the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

GSA shall publish a database of all federal real property under the custody and control of all executive agencies, other than federal real property excluded for reasons of national security.

The bill amends the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to allow the use of surplus property to provide permanent housing with or without supportive services to assist the homeless.

Background

Real property disposal is the process by which federal agencies identify and then transfer, donate, or sell real property they no longer need. [1] Disposition is an important asset management function because the costs of maintaining unneeded properties can be substantial, consuming financial resources that might be applied to long-standing real property needs, such as repairing existing facilities, or other pressing policy issues, such as reducing the national debt.[2]

Federal agencies real property portfolio includes approximately 295,000 buildings, which help agencies fulfill their diverse missions. As agencies’ missions change over time, so, too, do their real property needs, thereby rendering some assets less useful or unneeded altogether.[3]

Agencies are required to dispose of real property they no longer need, but often continue to hold onto unneeded buildings. In FY2010—the last year in which cost data were reported—the government spent $1.67 billion operating and maintaining unutilized and underutilized buildings.[4]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “unused and under-utilized federal properties have been draining on our economy for years. My bill will save us billions by cutting through red tape to change the poorly-managed property management system so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for keeping lights on in empty buildings.”[5]

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[1] See CRS report on “Disposal of Unneeded Federal Buildings: Legislative Proposals in the 114th Congress
[2] Id. at 2
[3] Id. at 4
[4] See FY2010 Federal Real Property Report: An Overview of the U.S. Federal Government’s Real Property Assets, September 2011, at 13
[5] See The Ripon Advance: Denham introduces bipartisan bill to reduce underused federal properties

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 4465 would cost $8 million in 2017 and about $40 million over the 2017-2021 period. These discretionary costs are fully offset by savings from the sale of two properties. If the board’s recommendations lead to the sale of additional facilities, the legislation also would result in additional receipts. However, CBO has no basis to estimate whether the board’s recommendations would result in the sale of additional properties that would not otherwise be sold under current law.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Robert Goad with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1831.