Denham, Shuster call public release of federal property data victory for taxpayers

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for the first time has publicly released detailed information on more than 300,000 federally owned and leased real estate assets, marking significant progress toward government transparency, according to two Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives who helped push the effort forward.

“The American people deserve to know what properties their government owns, and transparency is required for making sure those properties are managed in the best interest of the taxpayer,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), an original cosponsor of legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) requiring release of the database information.

“Billions of dollars are wasted on unused and unneeded federal property and this is a major portion of our effort to reduce the federal footprint,” said Rep. Denham, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The government hid this information for years and now the public can see just how much our reforms are needed to save taxpayer dollars.”

The publication of this comprehensive database by the GSA is one part of the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (FASTA) of 2016, which was authored by Denham and signed into law on Dec. 16, 2016. Another aspect of FASTA involves federal agencies developing their own list of property disposal recommendations.
Eventually this list will be vetted by a newly established Public Buildings Reform Board and passed to director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval or disapproval of disposal. The ultimate goal being to reduce the size of government and the cost of federal real estate by selling or redeveloping high-value properties and consolidating the footprint of federal buildings, according to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“The publication of this database is a win for anyone interested in transparency, accountability, and truth in government, and will provide Congress with an important tool in its oversight of the management of federal properties,” said Shuster, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over FASTA.

Federal Real Property Profile information on the government-owned and leased properties is available free of charge from the Federal Real Property Profile Management System, and represents the most exhaustively detailed listing of such assets ever published, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee noted this week in a statement.

Currently accessible data represents U.S. inventory comprising real property held by executive branch agencies as of Sept. 30, 2016. Data for fiscal year 2017 will be available online in spring 2018, according to the GSA.