Sen. Carper Reacts to GAO Report Detailing Lack of Key Data on Federal Property Inventory

Report Underscores Need for Sen. Carper's Comprehensive Federal Property Management and Disposal Legislation (S. 2178)

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, released the following statement reacting to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Federal Real Property: A National Strategy and Better Data Needed to Improve Management of Excess and Underutilized Property (S. 2178) that found the federal government lacks reliable data to account for what it owns or leases, the conditions of its real estate assets, how facilities are being utilized, and how the current federal property inventory compares to what is actually needed to support agencies’ missions and programs. The report was requested by Sen. Carper.

Sen. Carper’s statement follows:

“As the country’s largest property owner and energy user, it is critical that that the federal government continues to improve how its property portfolio is managed. The Obama Administration has recognized the potential for taxpayer savings if federal agencies do a better job of managing the property that they need and getting rid of property that they don’t. While the Administration has made improving federal property management a top priority and achieved important success in this area, this report from the Government Accountability Office highlights some major challenges due to the lack of adequate data about the federal government’s property inventory. As the adage goes, ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure,’ and that is certainly true when it comes to improving how agencies’ property is managed. Agency managers are essentially working with one hand tied behind their backs due to the lack of clear, reliable data about the status of the property they own and manage.

“It’s become clear to me, the Administration, and to many of my colleagues in Congress that we can get better results and save taxpayers a significant amount of money if we improve our federal property management practices. But until we address the absence of data, we won’t be able to realize our full potential in terms of solving this problem. We have to put a better system in place that would allow federal agencies to better track federal property assets, dispose of those assets that are no longer needed, and better manage those assets that the federal government does need. That’s why in March 2012 I, along with a group of bipartisan senators, introduced the Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act (S. 2178) that addresses this Achilles heel of property management by requiring the development of a comprehensive data management system, in addition to consolidating and re-aligning existing federal property and eliminating long-term leasing arrangements when building ownership would be more cost effective.

“At the end of the day, the federal government has many underutilized and vacant properties that cost billions of dollars each year to maintain. We need to get a better handle on the size and scope of the problem if we hope to develop the most efficient and effective solutions. Fortunately, both Congress and the Obama Administration are united in their commitment to address this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move my legislation forward to fix this serious problem.”