from the inbox:
Today, Federal Chief Performance Officer and OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients announced a major new initiative to cut through red tape and politics and rid the Federal Government of excess real estate. This initiative is projected to save taxpayers $15 billion.
The Federal Government owns 1.2 million properties across the country, making it the biggest property owner in the United States, but billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year on government properties that are no longer needed. This includes roughly 14,000 buildings and structures currently designated as excess and thousands of others that are underutilized. These properties range from under-utilized office buildings to empty warehouses.
The President’s legislative proposal would establish an independent board of experts to expedite the disposal of unneeded properties and identify opportunities to consolidate offices across and within agencies. It applies approaches that have been proven successful by the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Recommendations will be presented to Congress in a package to be voted on in an up-or-down manner. Upon passage, all properties will swiftly be disposed of or consolidated.
“With this new initiative, we can cut through the red tape and politics that prevented the federal government from getting rid of unneeded real estate for far too long – and save taxpayers upwards of $15 billion over the next three years, “said Jeffrey Zients, Federal Chief Performance Officer and Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget. “We look forward to working with Congress to make this commonsense reform a reality and deliver a government that is smarter, more effective, and more efficient for the American people.
This Board will allow us to overcome the traditional barriers to the timely disposal of excess property:
· Cut Through the Red Tape: There are over 20 requirements to sell a Federal property, whether the facility is a small warehouse or an office building in a major metropolitan area. The current process takes at least a year to dispose of any property and often wastes hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in maintenance costs. If a package of properties is deemed appropriate for disposal by the Board and approved by Congress, all of those properties will be swiftly disposed of or consolidated.
· Overcome Financial Barriers: Agencies often can’t afford the short-term costs involved in selling an asset, which prevents them from realizing the real, ongoing cost savings of getting rid of property they don’t need. The proposal will fix this by enabling the Board to manage a fund that can be leveraged to cover these upfront costs.
· Move Beyond Political Interests: Creating an independent board that can assemble a bundle of recommendations for sale or consolidation for an up-or-down vote in Congress will keep political interests from slowing down or completely stopping efforts to eliminate property.
This new proposal builds on the work of the President’s Accountable Government initiative, including an effort the President announced last year to achieve $3 billion in real estate savings for civilian property by the end of 2012. Federal agencies, working closely with the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, are taking the necessary steps to achieve this goal and are identifying further opportunities for real estate savings that the new, independent Board can consider.
Over the past two years, the President’s Accountable Government Initiative has focused on transforming how government works to deliver a government that is smarter, more effective and more responsive, saving taxpayer dollars by cutting waste and excess and consolidating duplicative or outdated programs. For example, this Administration is:
· Cutting Contracting Costs - curbed uncontrolled growth in contract spending, decreasing spending for the first time in 13 years and saving $15 billion over the prior year’s spending.
· Modernizing Information Technology - saved billions of dollars by improving how the government buys and utilizes information technology. Using the IT Dashboard we’ve conducted intensive reviews on high priority IT projects, reforming or terminating troubled projects, reducing planned budgets by $3 billion and accelerating delivery of key functionality.
· Cracking Down on Improper Payments – avoided nearly $4 billion in improper payments and doubled the amount of improper payments to contractors recaptured last year. Additionally, the Administration is deploying state-of-the-art fraud detection devices to achieve further gains.
· Consolidating and Eliminating Duplicative Programs - the President’s 2012 Budget released last month included over 200 terminations, reductions and savings that will save Americans more than $33 billion in 2012 alone. Additionally, during his State of the Union Address, the President announced a new effort to take a hard look at how we can better organize federal programs and functions to boost our nation’s competitiveness.