WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, James Lankford (R-OK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced bipartisan legislation 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. Currently, many federal agencies hold underused property that they need and cannot sell – but could be fully utilized by other public or private entities. Revenue generated by leasing properties to fund important projects would save taxpayer dollars and cut down on government waste.
“Properties that federal agencies need, but are underused, present an opportunity for our government to generate revenue that can fund important projects, save taxpayer dollars, and root out waste,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will help other public and private organizations make productive use of underutilized government property, and at the same time help federal agencies improve their facilities and reduce costs.”
“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.”
“The Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs Through (SMART) Leasing Act is a commonsense and innovative piece of legislation that will give federal agencies more independence to use their underutilized property in a way that generates revenue for the government and ensures taxpayer money is not wasted,” said Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. “Our organization commends Chairman Peters and Sens. Lankford, Sinema and Hawley for their leadership in introducing this legislation and I encourage all members of Congress to support this important bill.”
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 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.