- The U.S. General Services Administration has identified 23 properties to begin the disposition process as it intensifies its efforts to shed federal properties its tenant agencies no longer require.
- This is the first step in the GSA’s disposal process - under which property can be transferred, exchanged or sold to a federal, state, local entity or the public - as it seeks to right-size and modernize the federal building portfolio.
- This measure can potentially reduce 3.5 million square feet from the federal government’s real estate portfolio and garner more than $1 billion in estimated cost savings over a 10-year period, according to a Nov. 8 news release.
The agency has faced long-standing pressures to address vacant or underutilized space across its federal buildings and properties — a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which catalyzed a growing preference for telework.
The GSA announcement comes just a few weeks after the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended that the Office of Management and Budget take charge of creating benchmarks to measure space utilization in federal buildings. The development occurred after the agency‘s Public Buildings Service Commissioner, Nina Albert, testified before Congress at a late September hearing on the need to optimize the federal portfolio.
To that end, the GSA’s public buildings services arm sought a greenlight to increase its spending authority by $407.1 million, to a total of $11.1 billion sought by the PBS for its fiscal year 2024 Federal Buildings Fund. The additional funds, the agency said, would support reinvestments in federal government-owned buildings, address a growing backlog of critical repairs and renovations, cut costs of maintaining underutilized facilities, reduce reliance on expensive leases and help the buildings it owns transition to 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030.
“We frequently have surplus personal property and real property available for qualified parties to buy or lease,” the GSA said on its website. The agency divested five properties in fiscal year 2023. In its 2024 fiscal year, it plans to wrap up the disposition process for six more properties.
The identification of 23 additional properties for divestment represents the first step in a process that will involve transferring, exchanging or selling properties to federal, state or local entities as well as the public, according to the GSA release.
The 23 properties identified to begin the disposition process include the Nebraska Avenue Complex and the Webster School Building, both in Washington, D.C.; the Fort Lauderdale Federal Buildings and Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; the La Branch Federal Building in Houston; the Howard Street Garage in New York City; the William O Lipinski Federal Building in Chicago; the Captain JF Williams Coast Guard Building in Boston; and the E Kefauver Federal Building in Nashville, Tenn.
The agency will engage in ''thoughtful planning'' and ongoing dialogue with local communities to “maximize the benefits of new uses and minimize any potential adverse impacts,” GSA’s public buildings commissioner Elliot Doomes said in the release.
GSA said it has already disposed of nearly 12 million owned square feet and downsized 18 million square feet of leased space over the past decade.
“GSA and our agency partners will continue to assess space needs and accelerate the disposition of federal buildings that are underperforming, underused, or otherwise don’t use taxpayer dollars effectively,” said GSA administrator Robin Carnahan.
Correction: A previous version of this brief had an incorrect byline. Nish Amarnath is the author.