Lawmaker proposes ‘FAST’ slim down of federal property

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) wants to shrink the federal government and make some money in the process. He introduced the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer (FAST) Act of 2016 on Feb. 4, which would identify federal properties that could be sold off to reduce operation and maintenance costs.

According to the General Services Administration’s 2014 Federal Real Property Profile, the government owns or leases roughly 275,000 buildings. Of those, approximately 77,000 are under-utilized and cost $1.7 billion annually, according to information provided by Denham’s office.

“Unused and under-utilized federal properties have been draining on our economy for years,” Denham said in a statement. “My bill will save us billions by cutting through red tape to change the poorly managed property management system so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for keeping the lights on in empty buildings.”

Under the FAST Act, a President-appointed board would identify these properties and make recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget that would lead to $8 billion in savings over six years. In addition, the GSA would compile and maintain a database of federal properties and their use to avoid this problem in the future.

The Department of Defense already has a similar program, known as Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Five BRAC rounds have occurred between 1988 and 2005 and have racked up a total annual recurring savings of $12 billion.

This is not the first time Denham has proposed this plan. He introduced a nearly identical bill in 2011 called the Civilian Property Realignment Act, which was passed in the House but not the Senate. Since then, different members of both congressional chambers have introduced the same bill with minor changes in wording at least once per year.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced another very similar version of this bill in December 2015, entitled the FAST Act of 2015. It was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

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