Obama plans to scrap government buildings

@CNNMoney May 9, 2011: 2:09 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The federal government, the country's biggest property owner, is looking to unload a hefty chunk of its real estate portfolio.

The Obama administration has identified 14,000 buildings that agencies can afford to lose, and put forward a new plan on Wednesday that will help move the process along.

At the center of the effort is legislation that would create a Civilian Property Realignment Board, an independent commission based on the similar panel that was used to close military bases.

The new group will recommend buildings to close or demolish.

And if everything works out, taxpayers will save an estimated $15 billion over the next three years.

Currently, agencies must meet 20 requirements before unloading property, according to Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients.

One condition is that buildings must be offered up as housing for the homeless before being sold.

That red tape, coupled with resistance from local political interests, and the added stress on short-term budgets associated with real estate transactions, has created an environment where waste is endemic.

"For too long, the American people's hard-earned tax dollars have gone to waste," Zients said. "It's simply unacceptable."

On Wednesday, the administration released a map with a partial list of properties that are on the chopping block.

Ranging from office buildings to land parcels, not every property will be sold. Many of the buildings have little or no commercial value and will be destroyed. That will save the government money on operating costs.

How Washington F@#$%! the budget

Why the move to reform federal property management? There is a lot of money in it.

Agencies are already on track to save $3 billion by the end of next year, and the administration thinks $15 billion can be saved if Congress approves the legislation.

Zients said 60% of the savings would be used to reduce the federal deficit, while the other 40% would be used to finance additional property sales. To top of page

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