In the White House Briefing Room today, I announced a new proposal to create a Civilian Property Realignment Board to help the Federal government cut through red tape and politics to sell property it no longer needs. The plan will save taxpayers $15 billion over the first three years the Board is fully up and running.
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 sheds to under-utilized office buildings and empty warehouses. Next month, the Administration will release detailed information on these excess properties so that the public can be better informed about this challenge
The proposal we announced today brings private-sector discipline to the management of Federal real estate and applies tactics proven successful by the Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closure Commission. It establishes an independent board of experts to expedite the disposal of unneeded properties and identifies opportunities to consolidate offices across and within agencies. The board’s recommendations will be presented to Congress in a package to be voted on in an up-or-down manner and all properties will swiftly be disposed of or consolidated.
While this proposal is new, it builds on 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.
Our effort on real estate is one of many ways in which we have been executing on President Obama’s mandate to change how government works and deliver a government that is smarter, more effective, and more efficient. The President’s Accountable Government Initiative has curbed uncontrolled growth in contract spending, actually decreasing contract spending for the first time in 13 years; saved billions of dollars by improving how the government buys and utilizes information technology; and reduced improper payments and other forms of waste by deploying state-of-the-art fraud detection devices. More recently, the President asked me to lead an effort to reorganize federal programs and functions to improve our global competitiveness.
In his State of the Union address, the President said “We can’t win the future with the government of the past.” Today we’re taking one more step in the right direction.
Jeffrey Zients is the Federal Chief Performance Officer and the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.