Peters, Lankford, Sinema & Hawley Bipartisan Bill to Create Leasing Program for Underutilized Space Held by Federal Agencies Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), James Lankford (R-OK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) to create a program that allows federal agencies to lease underutilized properties with approval from the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), and to use the rent payments to help fund capital projects and facilities maintenance has advanced in the Senate. Currently, many federal agencies hold underused property that they need and cannot sell – but could be fully utilized by other public or private entities. The legislation was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. Revenue generated by leasing properties would fund important projects, save taxpayer dollars and cut down on government waste.

“Leasing space at federal properties that’s currently underused has the potential to generate additional funds for projects to improve government facilities at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill presents an opportunity for Congress to root out waste, and ensure that the federal government is effectively serving the American people.”

“We should always seek the best value for taxpayers,” said Senator Lankford. “Underutilized federal property is a waste of taxpayer funded resources. This bill builds off of a successful program at NASA, which has saved the taxpayers millions of dollars each year and will encourage other agencies to look for ways they can be better stewards of federal property.”

“Our commonsense, bipartisan plan saves Arizona taxpayers’ money through smarter, more efficient use of federal properties across the country,” said Senator Sinema.

“Taxpayers deserve to know that government resources are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Senator Hawley. “This legislation takes an important step toward generating new revenue from underutilized federal property to ensure our federal agencies are responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.” 

Federal agencies routinely hold property that could be used more effectively by other public and private entities. For example, an agency campus could have extra space they cannot sell, but could provide an optimal home for solar panels. Some agencies could also have space and equipment they need part time, but could otherwise be well-suited to university or private partnerships. The senators’ bipartisan legislation would allow federal agencies to explore ways to fully utilize their property, and generate revenue to fund other projects such as long-needed maintenance, revitalization, and other improvements.

The Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs Through Leasing (SMART Leasing) Act would create a pilot program to allow federal agencies to sublease underutilized non-excess real property and related personal property to any person or entity at fair market value, including another department or agency of the federal government or an entity of a state or local government. The legislation requires the GSA Administrator to certify that any lease will not have a negative impact on the mission of the federal agencies, and that the terms and conditions of the lease protect the interests of the country. The bill limits the number of leases to six per year to determine the impacts of this program through 2024, at which point GSA can advise Congress on whether the program should be extended or expanded. The legislation was modeled on a similar program used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – which has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the agency to use on capital projects and facilities maintenance.