Friday, April 12, 2013
Government: Trying To Tidy Up Real Estate Closet
As I am sure you know, the government was not able to avoid the sequestration which forced the administration to make budget cuts throughout their programs. Therefore, the General Services Administration has increased its efforts to get rid of the surplus of government buildings throughout the nation; but before I go any further let me give you a brief summary on the General Services Administration (GSA) to make sure everyone has complete understanding when reading this post. Established in 1949, the GSA, an independent agency of the United States government, was formed to help manage and support the basic functioning of Federal Agencies. Although the GSA is responsible for many different tasks and management operations, for the sake of your time I will only go over their roles in government real estate. In accordance with Title 40 of the United States Code, the GSA is responsible for promulgating regulations governing the acquisition, use, and disposal of real property and personal property. Therefore, in plain English, the GSA is sort-of like the Government's landlord.
As I was saying above, the GSA has made a concerned effort to get rid of surplus government buildings across the nation but they have been seeking new ways of doing so. Since 2010 the GSA has sold hundreds of buildings, usually by putting them up for auction. However, lately they have been meeting with private developers in order to negotiate land swaps to reduce the government’s real estate portfolio while consolidating offices and saving money for taxpayers. The GSA's acting administrator, Dan M. Tangherlini, wrote in a staff memorandum that the goal is, “to maximize the value of our real estate assets and reduce our federal footprint.” Currently, the government owns about 14 thousand excess buildings and structures in which the GSA is currently working to dispose of. “What we’ve seen is more attention and focus put on this activity, in part because of fiscal constraints across the government,” Mr. Tangherlini said. “At G.S.A., we are asking ourselves if there are other ways to speed the process of disposal and get positive outcomes as a result.”
Although it seems like selling off a building would be easy, especially for the government, there are many issues standing in the way. The process can be bogged down by political, technical, and economic issues, some of which are unavoidable due to the process of the law. Before a federal property can be put forth for sale the federal, state, and local government agencies must first be given a chance to acquire it. The property must also be made available to shelter the homeless, which is under the 1987 McKinney-Vento Act. Federal environmental and historic preservation reviews are also required on the property. Once all of this process is completed the property can be sold to private entities. Therefore, it is not an easy task but the GSA is making a strong and strategic effort to clean out the government's Real Estate closet.