CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 665, the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. H.R. 665 was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on February 11, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which reported the bill, as amended, by a voice vote on November 17, 2011.
H.R. 665 would improve the existing disposal apparatus so that excess federal buildings can more quickly be removed from federal control. Specifically, the bill would create a five-year pilot program that would expedite the disposal of the most profitable properties by removing red tape. Under the pilot, 98 percent of proceeds would be directed to the U.S. Treasury for debt reduction, with the other two percent going toward a grant program for homeless assistance providers. The bill would prohibit the inclusion of any parcel of real property, building, or other structure located on real property that is to be closed or realigned under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990.
The bill would prohibit real property from being sold under the program: (1) for less than fair market value, (2) if it will not generate monetary proceeds to the federal government exceeding disposal costs, or (3) in a non-cash transaction.
The bill would also permanently modernize the existing disposal process by reducing administrative overhead; creating new agency incentives; and requiring greater accountability from the property disposal apparatus. These reforms would increase transparency and empower agencies to promptly dispose of unneeded federal property.
The bill would insure that the reforms included would not depend on future Congressional action. Once signed into law, Congress would be removed from the equation.
The Congressional Research Service estimates the federal government holds more than 10,000 excess properties. The Government Accountability Office has further estimated the federal government holds more than 45,000 underutilized properties. Continued ownership of these excess and underutilized structures places an undue burden on the federal budget and taxpayers, as these properties cost federal taxpayers $1.66 billion in operating and maintenance costs in FY2009.
Unlike previously considered property legislation, H.R. 665 would not rely on future Congressional action for buildings to be disposed. The reforms of H.R. 665 can coexist with bureaucracies other bills would create.
No CBO score is available for H.R. 665 at press time.