Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA) called it a positive, long overdue step forward that the General Services Administration (GSA) today announced it plans to seek private sector ideas and resources for the possible redevelopment of highly valuable but significantly underdeveloped and underutilized federal property in the heart of Washington, DC.
The GSA announced a notice of intent that it plans to request feedback from the private sector on redeveloping the Federal Triangle South area of Washington. This includes the empty Cotton Annex, the Department of Energy Forrestal Complex, the Federal Aviation Administration's Orville and Wilbur Wright Buildings, and the GSA Regional Office Building. This area comprises 22 acres on Independence Avenue adjacent to the National Mall.
"In 2010, I released a report by Committee Republicans, called "Sitting On Our Assets,' highlighting the waste in GSA's management of federal property," Mica said. "In 2010, I released a report by Committee Republicans, called "Sitting On Our Assets,' highlighting the waste in GSA's management of federal property," Mica said. "Today GSA acknowledged 22 acres on the National Mall are sitting vacant or underutilized, and that it is time to put them to better use for the American taxpayer. It looks like our hearings and legislation are finally pushing GSA into action.
"In the last two years, the Committee has also held hearings in vacant federal buildings in Washington and elsewhere, including the Cotton Annex," Mica continued. "Those hearings have also prompted GSA to take steps towards long overdue decisions on empty and underutilized buildings. The After the Committee called two hearings in the empty Old Post Office Annex, GSA announced the selection of a private developer to rehabilitate that property. Today's announcement may lead to another success, and we need to move forward so that other empty buildings, like the empty Georgetown Heating Plant, don't continue to sit idle."
"In fiscal year 2009, the federal government wasted more than $1.7 billion in operating under-utilized and vacant buildings," Denham said. "This announcement by GSA finally acknowledges that there is real value to be found by redeveloping and selling off properties. In the face of a $16 trillion debt, it's time GSA gets serious about eliminating waste and increasing efficiency in our government. I will continue to tour the country revealing waste in federal properties until GSA finally gets serious about eliminating waste."
Over the last two years, Mica and Denham have held a number of hearings to focus on GSA and the federal government assets sitting idle, including:
· August 17, 2012: Hearing in Los Angeles on a proposed but unnecessary new courthouse, the construction of which would create another empty federal building
· August 6, 2012: Hearing at the empty David W. Dyer Courthouse in Miami
· June 19, 2012: Hearing at the empty Georgetown Heating Plant
· March 22, 2012: Hearing at the empty Cotton Annex
· February 9, 2012: 2nd Hearing at the empty Old Post Office Annex
· February 10, 2011: 1st Hearing at the empty Old Post Office Annex
H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Realignment Act -- legislation introduced by Denham and approved by the House -- would create a BRAC-like process to dramatically improve the management of federal property. Although not in the House-passed measure, the Committee approved an earlier version of the bill that required GSA to act on the inefficient DOE headquarters complex, which is also included as part of GSA's announcement today.