Today, Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-Ill) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) reintroduced the Excess Building and Property Disposal Act (H.R. 328) to cut wasteful federal property spending that costs taxpayers $1.67 billion annually. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support in the 112th Congress.
"This bill will cut millions of tax dollars wasted each year maintaining unnecessary properties, and ensure taxpayers are no longer flying blind when it comes to the value of real property the government owns and administers," said Rep. Quigley. "The House passed this bill last year with strong bipartisan support, and similar measures are under consideration in the Senate, so there is no reason for Congress to delay in passing these commonsense and responsible reforms."
The federal government is the largest single holder of real property in the United States with more than 900,000 buildings and structures. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the government held 77,700 buildings identified as either not utilized or underutilized and spent $1.67 billion dollars operating and maintaining them.
Staff members from Rep. Quigley's district office visited an Illinois property, reportedly worth more than $8 million, that costs taxpayers $80,000 a year to maintain. While the facility was recorded as being in excellent condition, staff saw the exterior overtaken by vegetation and the interior looted by vandals.
"With the national debt rising to over $16 trillion, the government can no longer foot the bill for vacant building and unneeded or underutilized properties. Government property that serves no public good should be immediately returned to private ownership," said Rep. Chaffetz. "We were able to pass identical legislation through the House in the 112th Congress with unanimous bipartisan support. In the 113th, Congress I hope we can turn this common sense legislation into law."
H.R. 328 creates a five-year pilot program that would expedite the disposal of the most profitable properties by removing red tape and increases transparency by creating an online database for all property owned by the federal government. Additionally, the bill would permanently modernize the existing disposal process by reducing administrative overhead, creating new agency incentives, and requiring greater accountability from federal agencies.
Rep. Quigley has been committed to good government reform since his election to Congress in 2009. He is the author of Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget, a report which offers 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years, and co-founder of the Transparency Caucus, which seeks to enact legislation that will bring openness and accessibility to the federal government. Guided by principles of the Simpson-Bowles budget alternative, Rep. Quigley has led a push for a "3B Budget Plan" that is bipartisan, achieves big deficit reduction, and balances spending cuts with tax reform. He currently serves on the House Committee on Appropriations.