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Lawmakers push GSA to unload more properties

Feb. 27, 2013 - 06:32PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Dorothy Robyn, the GSA's public buildings commissioner, speaks before a House committee in Washington on Feb. 27.
Dorothy Robyn, the GSA's public buildings commissioner, speaks before a House committee in Washington on Feb. 27. (Mike Morones / Federal Times)

Key lawmakers are pressing the General Services Administration and other agencies to more aggressively dispose of excess and underutilized federal properties.

Reps. John Mica, R-Fla., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee government operations that agencies need to do better at tracking, reporting and disposing of excess and underutilized property.

Mica, the subcommittee chairman, said that a 7,000-acre Agricultural Research Service site in Beltsville, Md., is nearly half empty, and that 200 out of 400 of its buildings are vacant or underutilized.

“This is some of the most valuable real estate in the country,” Mica said.

While agencies have moved ahead with disposing of some properties, it is not enough, he said.

“We are only scratching the surface of some of the problems that we have,” Mica said.

Dorothy Robyn, the public buildings commissioner at GSA, told the lawmakers that her agency is focused on reducing its overreliance on leased space and shrinking the federal footprint.

She said the auction of a 20,000-square-foot heating plant in the high-priced Georgetown section of Washington that has reached $16.1 million is an example of stepped-up efforts to dispose of excess properties.

David Wise, director of physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office, said agencies need to strengthen their reporting of excess property and GSA needs to focus on reducing costs from leased properties.

GSA has suffered a net loss of $200 million for its leased properties since fiscal 2005, including a $75 million loss in 2011 alone, according to GAO. GSA uses funds generated from its owned buildings to offset those losses.

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