WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Rand Paul (R-KY), Doug Jones (D-AL) and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline the federal inventory review process and save taxpayer money by directing federal agencies to more frequently assess unneeded federal property. Currently, many federal agencies only declare property as excess during office moves or space reductions – often resulting in agencies retaining or storing unneeded property that could be utilized by other agencies or in the private sector. All four Senators are members of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee, and Peters and Paul serve as Ranking Member and Chairman, respectively.
“Michiganders deserve to know that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are put to good use, and selling or disposing of excess equipment and supplies is an easy way to cut wasteful spending,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense legislation would ensure the federal government is acting more efficiently with its property and provide greater opportunity for federal property to be utilized by others that need it.”
“Our bill would help federal agencies carry out some overdue housecleaning by getting rid of property they no longer need, a basic step that will make government a better steward of the American people’s money. As we are demonstrating by joining together to introduce this legislation, this is an area where both parties should easily be able to unite and take action,” said Senator Paul.
“This new review process will make sure federal agencies are cutting waste wherever possible and putting our tax dollars to work,” said Senator Jones. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan, common-sense legislation that will reduce government waste by disposing excess and unnecessary equipment.”
“Congress has an obligation to the American people to eliminate wasteful, ineffective, or duplicative spending,” said Lankford. “With the national debt at $21 trillion and growing, this bipartisan policy solution will provide federal agencies a clear outline to review the inventory of federal property to determine what is necessary and being fully utilized and what is not. This will prevent future waste, develop oversight of federal proprieties, and save taxpayer’s dollars.”
According to a 2018 report from the General Accountability Office (GAO), most federal agencies lack centralized policies for proactively identifying unneeded federal property, including electronics, furniture and other equipment. As a result, this unneeded property is retained indefinitely. Current law leaves agencies greater discretion in classifying the value of property, making it more difficult to understand the true value of the federal government’s personal property holdings.
The Federal Personal Property Management Act directs federal agencies to assess property more regularly according to guidance set by the General Services Administration (GSA), which has outlined a government-wide excess property disposal process, but previously lacked the authority to tell agencies how or when to identify excess property.
The assessment will include:
- Identifying the age and condition of the property; and
- The extent to which the property is used and needed.
By implementing this assessment process, agencies can more frequently declare excess property, allowing for its disposal. The legislation also creates a uniform standard for how agencies assess their most valuable property, allowing for a better understanding of the value of the government’s personal property.
When agencies declare a piece of property excess, other federal agencies and certain non-agency recipients have 21 days to claim the property. If unclaimed after 21 days, there is a 5 day period for state agencies to claim property, after which property is declared surplus and made available for sale or donation to the general public.