Washington, DC – May 18, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced legislation to save taxpayers billions of dollars by reforming management of federal office space and real estate, and to increase accountability and oversight of the agency responsible for securing and protecting thousands of federal buildings.
The Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2015 Act (H.R. 2322) reforms the General Services Administration (GSA), enabling the agency to better facilitate consolidations, reduce space, and negotiate the best possible office space lease deals to save billions of dollars. The bill also strengthens authorities of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) in order to improve security at Federal buildings.
The legislation was introduced by Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta (R-PA); Subcommittee Ranking Member Andre Carson (D-IN); Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA); and Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
“As Members of Congress, we have been entrusted with spending the taxpayers’ money, so we must always be willing to find new ways to achieve savings,” said Barletta. “In my subcommittee, we have already saved $2.5 billion through better management of federal real estate, and this legislation will only improve on that record. We should approach leasing and renovation decisions the way private businesses would – with the bottom line in mind. That’s why I’ve been hosting roundtables across the country to hear directly from all interested parties about how we can get a better deal for the taxpayers. There’s a window of opportunity that the private sector is capitalizing on and it’s time the federal government did the same.”
“I am pleased that my recommendations to strengthen and improve the Federal Protective Service have been included in this legislation,” said Carson. “As a former law enforcement official, I believe it is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the millions of federal workers and daily visitors, and to keep federal buildings safe. With increased oversight and additional legislative authority I believe the Federal Protective Service can thrive in its mission of protecting Federal Facilities, their occupants, and visitors by providing superior law enforcement and protective security services”
“GSA office leases for federal agencies cost over $5 billion every year, and the leases for half of that space will expire in the next few years,” Shuster said. “If we don’t cut the red tape that ties GSA’s hands and prevents the agency from getting better lease deals currently available in this buyer’s market, we will lose this limited, tremendous opportunity to save taxpayers billions of dollars.”
“This legislation gives GSA the flexibility to make smarter decisions when it comes to federal buildings,” said DeFazio. “From reducing the federal footprint to considering the long-term costs of leasing versus construction, this legislation gives GSA more tools to better manage federal buildings.”
Summary of Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act Key Provisions
Streamlined Leasing Program
With half of GSA’s leased inventory expiring in the next five years, providing GSA with authorities to act expeditiously and take advantage of the current opportunity, while rental rates remain below their peaks in key markets, will result in significant savings to taxpayers. Specifically, the legislation establishes a Streamlined Leasing Pilot Program that would reduce the administrative red tape on most GSA leases, allow for and encourage space consolidations, and address upfront costs related to securing less expensive space.
Strengthening Accountability and Oversight of Public Buildings
Ensuring the acquisition and construction of new federal space is effectively overseen and managed is critical to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately. Specifically, the legislation clarifies congressional oversight of property exchanges, ensures federal construction projects remain within or under budget, and sets clear timeframes on authorized projects.
Improving Building Security
Public Buildings, unfortunately, have been proven targets of those wishing to do the Nation harm. Ensuring personnel responsible for protecting public buildings are appropriately trained, managed, and accountable is critical. Specifically, the legislation clarifies protection authorities related to federal buildings and improves accountability and oversight of the use of such authorities.