Cutting Waste: GSA & Empty Federal Buildings

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working to cut government waste at the General Services Administration (GSA) and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

This has been a chief goal of the Committee since Republicans issued a report entitled “Sitting On Our Assets: The Federal Government's Misuse of Taxpayer-Owned Assets” in October 2010, just prior to Republicans assuming the leadership of the House of Representatives and U.S. Rep. John L. Mica becoming Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman. Under Mica’s chairmanship, “Sitting On Our Assets” has served as a blueprint for oversight of the GSA and other federal agencies. Click here to read the report.

In 2012, the GSA became notorious for wasting millions of dollars on outrageous agency conferences, dubious employee awards programs, junkets to Pacific islands, and bloated bonuses, including for officials responsible for such abuses.

The Committee has helped to uncover this blatant waste – from the $800,000+ Las Vegas vacation, to a weeklong trip to Hawaii for GSA officials to attend a one-hour ribbon-cutting ceremony, to $20,000 blown on drumsticks for the attendees of a GSA awards ceremony in the Washington, DC area – and make sure this agency’s free-spending ways come to an end.

However, these examples represent just the tip of the iceberg of the waste at the GSA.

Empty & Underused Federal Buildings Coast Taxpayers Billions:
H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Realignment Act

Billions of dollars continue to be wasted by this agency sitting on its assets. The GSA’s mismanagement of property has resulted in empty and underutilized federal buildings and courthouses sitting idle, draining the federal treasury when they could be generating revenue for the nation or be used with significantly greater efficiency.

In Washington, DC, Committee hearings at high-value but grossly underused properties, such as the historic Old Post Office Building, the empty Cotton Annex, and the Georgetown Heating Plant, have highlighted this problem.

The Committee also held hearings in an empty courthouse in Miami, and at the site of a proposed – but unnecessary – courthouse in Los Angeles that, if built according to GSA plans, will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and generate another empty federal building.

Fortunately, Committee action has prompted the GSA to take some long-delayed steps to better manage the taxpayers’ assets:

After the Committee called two hearings at the Old Post Office – an historic building a few blocks from the White House that has been partially vacant for over a decade – the GSA finally announced a private developer for the valuable but wasted property. Click here for more information.

Following the Committee hearing at the Cotton Annex – an 89,000 square foot building one block from the National Mall and empty for years – the GSA announced it would examine how to reuse or sell the property. GSA then announced in September 2012 that it plans to seek private sector ideas and resources for the possible redevelopment of a 22 acre site consisting of multiple underutilized federal properties, including the Cotton Annex. Click here for more information on the Committee's hearing, and here for more in the potential redevelopment.

The GSA put a “for sale” sign up on the Georgetown Heating Plant – a facility on some of the most valuable real estate on the East Coast, but unused for a decade – one day before the Committee’s hearing. Click here for more information.

After the Committee scheduled its hearing at the David W. Dyer Courthouse – another historic but empty building in downtown Miami and vacant for five years – the GSA announced that it is soliciting ideas for the property. Click here for more information.

The Committee also held a hearing in Los Angeles on a proposed – and completely unnecessary – federal courthouse, which will cost taxpayers $400 million. The Committee will continue to work to stop GSA’s plan to build a courthouse we don’t need for judges we don’t have. Click here for more information.

In order to address the GSA’s mismanagement of federal property, the Committee and the House of Representatives have passed legislation to shrink the size of government and provide savings through selling or redeveloping high value federal properties, consolidating federal space, maximizing the utilization rates of space, and streamlining the disposal of unneeded assets. H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Realignment Act, establishes a framework similar to the BRAC commission to review federal properties and make recommendations for reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and saving taxpayers’ money. Click here for more information.

H.R. 6430, the Public Buildings Reform Act

A bill to reform the GSA and help eliminate wasteful spending and inefficiency at the agency, introduced by Committee Chairman Mica and Subcommittee Chairman Denham, was approved by the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Amangement Subcommittee on September 20, 2012.

H.R. 6430, the “Public Buildings Reform Act of 2012” is a bill to improve the efficiency of federal space, reduce the size of the government’s footprint, eliminate GSA waste and abuse of taxpayer funds, and increase transparency and accountability at the agency.  Click here to read about the proposed GSA reforms included in this bill.

February 10, 2011: Committee hearing on how underused and vacant federal buildings continue to waste taxpayers' money.

More information:


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