Feds Look to Dispose of 12,217 Properties

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May 16, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Everything from old military weapons ranges in California, to laboratories in Idaho and family housing in Glacier National Park are included in a list of items for possible disposal under federal legislation looking to cut the number of government-owned properties across the United States.

The list contains 12,217 properties

According to Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, the list was compiled from a 2009 report on excess government property. Because the list is dated, some properties have already been disposed of, while others are scheduled for demolition or are in the process of being sold, the Billings (Mont.) Gazette reported.

The idea behind publishing the list is to get people talking about the value of the idle federal properties, Mack said. Could some of them be turned over to local governments for another use, such as housing for the homeless? Or are there properties not included on the list that should be added, she said.

“The federal government manages over 1 million properties, and they cost $20 billion a year to operate and maintain,” Mack said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We believe there are other federal properties that are underutilized.”

The legislation, called the Civilian Property Realignment Act, is based on the Clinton administration’s Base Realignment and Closure program. The act’s main goal is to quickly dispose of “unneeded federal civilian property and realize savings.”

In explaining the legislation in a May 4 White House Blog posting, Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director for management at OMB, wrote, “For too long, the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars have gone to waste, funding empty buildings and holding on to valuable properties the government no longer needs. That is something that shouldn’t be tolerated at any time, but especially with this challenging fiscal environment, it’s unacceptable.”

By proposing the entire package of properties for disposal, OMB is hoping to cut through government red tape and quickly move the project forward, Mack said. OMB estimates the legislation could save $15 billion in the first three years, if approved, she said. “We’re hoping Congress will help us,” she said. “There has been bipartisan interest on the hill.”

“We heard kind of secondhand that it was going on,” said Al Nash, Yellowstone’s chief of public affairs. “We don’t know what buildings or bridges they are talking about. We don’t think we have any excess bridges, but it is certainly possible we may have two or three small buildings, out of the thousands here, that somebody could consider excess.”

The bridges along the West Fork Rock Creek Road are on the list, although they were replaced as part of road work there.

All together, the inventory includes 241 such listings in Montana and 175 in Wyoming. Many of the items listed in Montana and Wyoming were compiled by the U.S. Forest Service. But, in states like California, which lists 1,151 properties, the military is the main entity listing excess property.

Congressional approval of a seven-member oversight board is needed as part of the legislation.

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