Specialist in American National Government Real property disposal is the process by which federal agencies identify
and then transfer, donate, or sell real property they no longer need.
Disposition is an important asset management function because the costs of
maintaining unneeded properties can be substantial, consuming financial resources
that might be applied to long-standing real property needs, such as repairing
existing facilities, or other pressing policy issues, such as reducing the
Despite the expense, federal agencies hold thousands of unneeded and
underutilized properties. Agencies have argued that they are unable to
dispose of these properties for several reasons. First, there are
statutorily prescribed steps in the disposal process that can take months to
complete. Second, agencies are often required to complete major repairs or
environmental remediation before properties are ready for disposal—steps
for which agencies lack funding. Third, key stakeholders in the disposal
process—including local governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses—are
often at odds over how to dispose of properties. In addition, Congress may be limited
in its capacity to conduct oversight of the disposal process because it
currently lacks access to reliable, comprehensive real property data.
Three bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress that propose significant changes to the existing real
property disposal system. The Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act of
2013 (S. 1398), would establish an expedited disposal program under which 200
properties would be exempt from time-consuming, statutory disposal
requirements. In addition, S. 1398 would expand the role of an interagency
workgroup, the Federal Real Property Council, to set disposal goals for
agencies and monitor their progress in meeting those goals. The bill would also increase
oversight of agency disposal activities by requiring the Administrator of the
General Services Administration (GSA) to establish a real property
database available to the public at no cost.
The Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2013 (H.R. 328) would
establish an expedited disposal program under which the 15 unneeded
federal properties with the highest fair market value would bypass
statutory disposal requirements and be offered for sale immediately. H.R.
328 would also require the GSA Administrator to establish a real property
database available to the public at no cost and provide a report to
Congress on the progress each landholding agency has made in reducing its
The Civilian Property Realignment Act (H.R. 695) would centralize the disposal
process by establishing a Civilian Property Realignment Commission, which
would work with agencies to develop a list of disposal recommendations to
the President. If the President approved the recommendations, then they
would be sent to Congress. If Congress passed a joint resolution of approval
then agencies would be required to implement the recommendations; if a joint
resolution of approval was not passed then the realignment process would
end for the fiscal year.
Date of Report: September 27, 2013
Number of Pages: 26 Order Number: R43247
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