New legislation to reform the General Services Administration (GSA), improve the efficiency of federal space, reduce the size of the government's footprint, eliminate GSA waste and abuse of taxpayer funds, and increase transparency and accountability at the agency will be considered for approval by a Congressional panel tomorrow.
H.R. 6430, the "Public Buildings Reform Act of 2012" is legislation authored by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA). The bill was introduced in the House today.
In the 112th Congress, Chairman Denham's Subcommittee has conducted vigorous oversight of GSA in an effort to improve the federal government's wasteful management of federal property, including by holding Congressional hearings in empty and underutilized federal buildings in Washington, DC and across the country. Mica and Denham have also worked to uncover the agency's troubling culture of waste, notoriously exemplified by GSA's lavish conferences, junkets, and bonuses.
"In the face of a $16 trillion debt, we've been serious about eliminating waste and increasing efficiency in our government," Denham said. "We don't want explanations, excuses or justifications from GSA. We want change and substantive reform and this bill accomplishes those goals."
"This bill will help get this agency to stop sitting on its assets and thumbing its nose at Congress," Mica said. "The American people have had enough of empty federal buildings and courthouses, mismanaged and inefficient government office space, and inexcusable decisions to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on conferences, unjustified employee gifts and bonuses, and paid vacations for high level GSA executives."
Denham's subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the bill at 1:30 PM on Thursday, September 20, 2012 in room 2253 Rayburn House Office Building. A live webcast of the markup will be available here.
Summary of Public Buildings Reform Act of 2012
Reduction of Federal Space Footprint
Requires GSA to offset any request for new space with an equivalent reduction of space through 2016
Requires GSA to reduce its inventory by 1 million square feet per year through 2016.
Minimizing Costs of Federal Space
Caps maximum rent for below-prospectus leases: proposals that are below the cost threshold of the congressional approval requirement.
Requires notification of below-prospectus lease-construction projects
Establishes federal courtroom sharing standards
Encourages use of commercial real estate brokers and requires GSA to report on performance of brokers and in-house personnel.
Requires reduction of Public Buildings Service personnel to 2008 levels.
Elimination of Waste and Abuse
Prohibits bonuses for Senior Executive Service (SES) employees through 2014. Jeff Neely, infamous for helping plan the 2010 Las Vegas conference, was an SES employee.
Requires GSA to report to committee 30 days before entering into any agreements for a conference involving the Public Buildings Service. The report would require a budget, purpose, expected participants, location and length. The section would also require a post-conference report on actual costs, attendees, and agenda.
Restricts the total number of participants in the Public Buildings Service's internship programs to 50 each fiscal year through 2015 and requires the IG to review the programs, their costs, value, and potential employment abuses.
Transparency and Accountability
Requires GSA to submit detailed budgets of administrative costs, including salaries, bonuses, travel, training and conferences.
Requires specific congressional authorizations of administration costs.
Sets expiration of committee resolutions approving GSA projects to 5 years.
Limits independent leasing authorities of agencies outside GSA.
Requires GSA to measure actual utilization of space and report to committee.
Requires GSA and tenant agencies to certify every 6 months to Congress the actual number of people housed in leased and owned buildings and gives GSA authority to increase rent of noncompliant tenant agencies.
Requires GSA to maintain a current database of the utilization of its properties and make the database available to congressional committees.
Restores congressional oversight of large leases and property acquisitions.
Requires GSA to report to committee annually on a list of vacant properties and associated costs.
Requires GSA to report to committee on project escalations exceeding 5%.