Civilian BRAC effort gaining support

Congress is considering a proposal to establish an independent commission to sift through more than 12,000 excess federal properties and streamline the process ...

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

The federal government has excess property. By some estimates, selling off that property could bring in billions of dollars in savings.

Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of California has crafted legislation patterned after the Base Realignment And Closure process which would eventually eliminate these excess properties.

He told the Federal Drive BRAC was chosen as the model because it “was very successful. It took politics out of the system. You know every member of Congress is going to fight for properties in their district, or in this case which was bases in their district, but by taking it to an overall commission it really takes the politics out of it.”

Denham said as Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, he’s been working with the admininstration, OMB and GSA with the goal of “to not only dispose of a lot of properties, but really identifying the entire federal property database, excess surplus properties, and creating transparency.”

From golf courses to islands to properties in other countries, by making the inventory, said Denham “we’re really forcing a justification. Why do we own the properties that we do?”

So now, instead of an agency showing what they have and don’t need, the commission will be asking what they have and what they feel they must keep.

“Yeah, we’re actually reversing the system,” explained Denham. Instead of just declaring surplus, “..this is actually backing into it to say ‘justify what you have and show us what you don’t need,’ and by going at it this way, it’s giving us the opportunity to take a look a lot of different properties that should be surplus, but have never been on a surplus list.”

In addition to selling off unused or under-used properties, federal office space will be on the block. “In the process, we want to take two or three different departments and put them into one building, or often times you’ve got agencies that are spread between several buildings that we have an opportunity to consolidate as well.”

Denham said the proposal is moving quickly through committee and he expects it to move quickly through the Senate as well. In the near term, “the goal would be to sell several billion dollars off next year. I personally would like to see fifteen billion in the first year. That’s a high target to hit, but it’s only scratching the surface on the overall surplus property throughout the nation.”

Taking another page from the BRAC playbook, Denham said a new set of justifications should be created every year.


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