T&I Committee Approves Slate of Bills to Improve Usage of Federal Office Space, Emergency Preparedness and Response
Today, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to approve 13 pieces of legislation, including a number of bills focused on addressing the federal government’s inefficient and costly use of office space, improving federal disaster preparedness and response programs, and more.
“Earlier this year, the GAO and our committee highlighted alarmingly low office space utilization rates at federal agencies, including agencies that used just nine percent of their office capacity. I’m proud that our members worked across the aisle today to pass bipartisan solutions that will consolidate federal space, reduce waste, and save taxpayers money, in addition to making smart emergency preparedness and response program reforms,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO).
The following legislation for improving the utilization and reducing taxpayer costs of federal office space was approved at today's full Committee markup:
H.R. 6277, the FASTA Reform Act of 2023, introduced by Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Dina Titus (D-NV), reforms the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (FASTA), which was signed into law in 2016 to encourage the federal government to identify and sell unused properties for the benefit of taxpayers. This bipartisan bill extends the termination date of the Public Buildings Reform Board (created under FASTA), requires the Board to submit a report to Congress on federal properties that should be sold, fosters more collaboration with agencies by allowing agencies to receive sale proceeds sooner than after the termination of the Board, and allows the Board access to Federal Real Property Council meetings.
H.R. 6260, the Federal Oversight of Construction Use and Safety (FOCUS) Act, introduced by Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Vice Chair Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), requires congressional notification of cost escalations of five percent on GSA capital projects and requires an amended prospectus to be submitted to Congress for approval if cost escalations exceed 10 percent. The bill also requires GSA to collect data on crimes in and around public buildings and submit a report to Congress that includes crime data and any actions taken or planned to address safety concerns. Utilization data and consolidation plans must also be included in prospectuses to reduce waste. Additionally, the bill orders a GAO review of utilization of special use space in federal buildings.
H.R. 6261, the Impact of Crime on Public Building Usage Act of 2023, introduced by Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), establishes a GAO study on how crime in and around public buildings affects building usage, commuting methods, and costs of maintaining public buildings. The bill also requires GSA to submit a report to Congress on the impacts and costs associated with building operations related to crime and public safety in and around federal buildings.
H.R. 6241, the Federal Use it or Lose it Leases (FULL) Act, introduced by Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-NC) and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA), requires that occupancy agreements between GSA and tenant agencies contain an annual reporting requirement that includes monthly occupancy and actual utilization rates and includes written procedures requiring the agency return space should actual utilization rate fall below 60 percent for six months within any one-year period. The bipartisan bill also requires agencies with independent leasing authorities to report utilization rates of their leases to their oversight committees.
H.R. 6254, the Public Buildings Accountability Act of 2023, introduced by Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), requires a GAO report that reviews and makes an accounting of personnel in the Public Buildings Service, in-person attendance, historical staffing numbers and costs, and an analysis of effectiveness of the organizational structure. The bill also requires an examination of the building operations account of the Federal Building Fund.