NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the government has a spending problem, but at long last, the feds are coming clean about it. No, we’re not talking about stimulus spending or bailouts or any number of other recent policies whose merits can be debated. The government’s problem this time is that it is the biggest hoarder of property in the country, and many of these properties are completely unnecessary.
The federal government currently owns 1.2 million properties around the country, but according to a White House blog post this week, some 14,000 of these buildings are considered excess, meaning they go essentially unused. Thousands more are considered underutilized.
Aside from just being a waste of space, these unused buildings are also a waste of billions of dollars in taxpayer money each year in maintenance costs. As a result, the Obama administration introduced a new proposal Tuesday to create a Civilian Property Realignment Board that would make it easier for the federal government to cut through bureaucratic red tape and expedite the sale of excess properties.
“The proposal we announced today brings private-sector discipline to the management of federal real estate,” Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, wrote on the White House blog. “It establishes an independent board of experts to expedite the disposal of unneeded properties and identifies opportunities to consolidate offices across and within agencies.”
According to the Obama administration, if Congress votes to approve this proposal, the newly established property board could ultimately save taxpayers as much as $15 billion in the first three years of its operation.
Perhaps afterwards, the administration can turn its attention to other obvious government money wasters, like the huge amount spent on paper and forgetting to turn off light switches at the Department Of Energy, each of which waste millions a year.
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