Carper Legislation to Improve Management of Federal Property Becomes Law

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama signed into law legislation to improve how the federal government manages its buildings and other property across the country. The Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), will establish a framework for federal agencies to better manage existing space in a more cost-effective manner and help facilitate the disposal of unneeded federal property. The House version of the bill, H.R. 6451, was introduced by Representative Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and passed the Senate early Saturday morning.

“It's been clear to me and to many others for a long time now that we can get better results and save taxpayer dollars by simply improving the way we manage federal property,” said Senator Carper, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  “This bipartisan bill will do just that by requiring federal agencies to account for their properties and help the government get a better handle on its vast assets. These commonsense reforms signed into law today will increase efficiency across the federal government and help to ensure that we are being better stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Specifically, the Federal Property Management Reform Act requires federal agencies to maintain an up-to-date inventory of the property it owns, provides for increased co-location opportunities for federal agencies with the Postal Service and establishes a Federal Real Property Council to develop uniform guidance for agency property managers to follow and share best practices in property management among agencies.

The federal government’s real property holdings are vast and diverse, incorporating hundreds of thousands of buildings and permanent structures across the county, making it the largest property owner in the United States. The ability of the federal government to effectively and efficiently manage this vast portfolio has long been of concern to Congress and other watchdogs. In fact, every year since January 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has placed real property management on its list of “high risk” government activities, citing long-standing problems with excess and underutilized property; deteriorating and aging facilities; unreliable property data; and a heavy reliance on costly leasing instead of ownership to meet new needs.

Additionally, the Federal Property Management Reform Act of 2016 will:

  • Require agencies to maintain a current inventory of real property, including information about the cost and use of their facilities and how these properties fit into the agencies broader management plan;
  • Codify and expand the duties of the Federal Real Property Council to ensure this body develops guidance and ensures the implementation of strategies for better managing federal property;
  • Codify the broader management framework of the Administration’s National Strategy for the Efficient Use of Real Property, ensuring these actions become a permanent framework for agency property management.