Bipartisan proposal would save taxpayers $18 billion by easing disposal rules
U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today introduced legislation to eliminate the enormous backlog of unneeded property within the federal government. The bill would help federal agencies more quickly dispose of unneeded property, resulting in billions of dollars of savings to American taxpayers.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report Friday, June 15, outlining the exorbitant costs associated with agencies holding onto properties they don't need. Excessive rules and regulations, according to OMB, have resulted in a backlog of more than 21,000 properties worth $18 billion.
The bill would temporarily ease the property disposal rules and allow agencies to more quickly sell properties they don't need. It would also give agencies a financial incentive to act by allowing them to keep a portion of the proceeds, which would otherwise go directly to the Treasury.
"The recent report by the Office of Management and Budget illustrates that the federal government's property management problems are even worse - and more expensive - than I originally thought," said Senator Carper, chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Finance Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security. "It's difficult to understand how agencies could continue holding on to so much underused or even completely vacant property. The federal dollars spent to maintain these buildings could be put to better use. Congress needs to give agencies the tools they need to eliminate their backlog of unneeded property."
"It is obscene that the value of our government's vacant or unused properties exceeds the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of half of the nations on earth. American taxpayers are generous and are eager to help rebuild nations like Afghanistan, but something is wrong when Congress asks taxpayers to sacrifice more but does nothing to eliminate an area of waste that is double the size of Afghanistan's GDP," said Dr. Coburn, the subcommittee's ranking member.
"To provide further perspective, the value of our unused properties exceeds the annual budget of the Army Corps of Engineers, an agency that is tasked with securing levees around cities like New Orleans. If Congress spent less time doing political oversight and more time doing common sense oversight we might be able to redirect taxpayer dollars to projects that do make a difference in our everyday lives," Dr. Coburn said.
Dr. Coburn added, "Members of Congress should not earmark a single dollar for a new building until we take steps to get rid of the 21,000 properties we already have but aren't using."