Legislation by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) to save millions in federal tax dollars by encouraging disposal of unneeded federal property passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs today.
Sen. Carper said a June report by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) identified 21,000 properties, some completely vacant, that federal agencies pay about $130 million a year to maintain and secure, but do not use.
“That’s $130 million that could go to maintain buildings we do use or to fund more productive government programs,” Sen. Carper said. “Our legislation will test how to help agencies save money by disposing of property that no longer meets federal needs.”
The Federal Real Property Disposal Pilot Program (S. 1667) sets up a five-year pilot project that gives the OMB and others the ability to test successful disposal procedures already working well for agencies such as the Departments of State and Veterans Affairs.
Under the pilot program, the disposal process is streamlined, with OMB determining up to 750 properties that can be sold or demolished over the next five years.
The pilot program also gives federal agencies incentive to get rid of unused property by permitting agencies to keep 20 percent of proceeds from any property sale, plus their administrative costs. The remaining 80 percent of proceeds will be deposited into the U.S. Treasury.
“This pilot program will put a dent in the backlog of unneeded properties, teach us how to handle disposal in the future and bring in potentially billions of dollars to the Treasury to reduce the deficit,” Sen. Carper said. “We must improve the current property disposal process that takes a year or more, and givesagencies an incentive to dispose of properties that they no longer need or want.”
The legislation also allows more property disposal without harming the homeless community. Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, groups that work with the homeless may receive property at no cost they can use for housing and job training centers.