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House Votes to Create Process to Dispose Excess Federal Property

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The House voted to create a commission to direct disposal or redevelopment of excess federal property that the General Services Administration estimated costs more than $1 billion a year to maintain.

The bill, H.R. 1734, would adopt a process for civilian property modeled after the Defense Department’s base closure and realignment commission process, or BRAC. The House today passed the legislation by a vote of 259-164.

“The federal government has a horrible track record of selling things that aren’t being used,” Representative Jeff Denham, a California Republican who sponsored the bill, said on the floor today. The bill provides opportunities to get rid of properties that have been “sitting for decades,” he said.

Federal agencies spent more than $1.66 billion in fiscal 2009 to maintain 45,190 underused buildings, according to a September 2010 GSA report.

The House bill “does not go far enough to create a transformative process that would save taxpayers billions of dollars,” according to a statement of administration policy released Feb. 6 by the Office of Management and Budget. The White House didn’t threaten a veto of the legislation.

The administration said it opposed provisions to exempt transactions from environmental studies, zero out the authorization for the GSA’s new construction account for fiscal 2012, and limit the leasing of property.

The White House has offered a proposed bill text that differs from the House-passed version, as it would allow the commission to consider State Department and Postal Service properties.

The U.S. Senate would have to clear the measure for President Barack Obama’s signature.


To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Jamrisko in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at

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