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Mr. QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I want to thank the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Issa, for his staunch support of this bill, and I also want to thank my good friend Mr. Chaffetz for working so closely with us to craft this bipartisan bill and in working to get it to the floor today. Finally, I want to thank the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Cummings, for working with me on this important bill.
There could not be a better time to move a measure like this one through the Congress. We are facing an unsustainable budget deficit, and we must get our fiscal house in order. One of the best ways to achieve much-needed reductions in spending is to create efficiencies and cut waste. This is exactly what this bipartisan measure accomplishes.
The Federal Government is the largest property owner in the world, with an inventory of over 900,000 buildings and structures and 41 million acres of land. Yet we waste billions of tax dollars each year in maintaining properties we no longer need.
The Federal Government currently maintains 14,000 buildings and structures deemed ``excess'' and over 76,000 properties identified as ``underutilized.'' In fiscal year 2009, these underutilized buildings cost us $1.7 billion to operate annually.
The GAO has continuously found that many properties are no longer relevant to their Agencies' missions and that Agencies could do a better job of identifying and disposing of unneeded properties. H.R. 665, as amended, will finally give Agencies the tools they need to quickly and efficiently dispose of unneeded Federal properties, resulting in huge savings to the government.
First, H.R. 665 creates a 5-year pilot program to expedite the sale of unused, high-value properties. The Office of Management and Budget, also with the General Services Administration, will work with Agencies to dispose of 15 high-value properties. This list of properties for disposal will be a rolling list, meaning, as properties are sold, additional properties will be added to the list for disposal. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from the sale of these high-valued properties will go straight to the Treasury for deficit reduction while 2 percent will be set aside for a grant to fund homeless assistance programs.
In addition to the 5-year pilot, H.R. 665, as amended, modernizes the existing property disposal process and removes barriers to disposal. H.R. 665 empowers GSA to provide agencies with much needed technical expertise to dispose of unused and unneeded properties.
The bill also allows all Agencies to use the proceeds generated from the sale of property, as authorized by Congress, to cover the costs of disposal. Currently, property disposal costs can be hugely expensive. Without the ability to use the proceeds of a sale to cover the costs of disposal, Agencies have little incentive to dispose of these properties. Any funds not used to prepare and dispose of property would be paid to the Treasury for debt reduction.
H.R. 665, as amended, will also provide unprecedented transparency and accountability to the Federal Government's property portfolio. The bill will require GSA to report to Congress annually on the number, value, and maintenance costs of all Federal property. This information will be made available to the public at no cost in an online database.
Finally, this bipartisan bill reforms our property disposal process without creating a new bureaucracy, and is at no cost to the Federal Government.
H.R. 665, as amended, passed unanimously through the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I encourage my colleagues to support this commonsense bill designed to improve government efficiency and save the taxpayers billions.
Again, I want to thank Mr. Chaffetz for his good work on a bipartisan effort toward this extraordinary bill.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
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