Since entering office, Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) has worked vigorously to help taxpayers save billions of dollars through improving the management of federal properties and real estate.
By introducing his Civilian Property Realignment Act, Congressman Denham is hopeful that the legislation will lessen the federal real estate footprint while decreasing government spending.
“We’ve got over a trillion dollar deficit in skyrocketing debt that we must examine every area of government and look for ways to cut that spending,” said Congressman Denham while testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. “The CPRA would create a non-partisan professional mission to root out waste and inefficiencies in the way that we manage our public buildings. The principles of this bill are driving forces behind the effort to redevelop the Federal Triangle and serve as a model for how we manage property nationwide.”
According to Denham, to successfully save billions of dollars for taxpayers, the government must implement the CPRA using the following five principles: working to maximize return to the taxpayer; maximizing space utilization; reducing the reliance on costly leasing; creative value in underperforming assets; and improving the overall management and controls related to federal properties.
“We have got to have a solution that incorporates all five principles,” said Congressman Denham. “We need a CPRA which is designed to reshape the way that this country manages its federal footprint and fortunately this administration recognizes the same problem.”
Support for the CPRA comes from both Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate, leading Denham to believe that billions of dollars can be saved while working together. Denham also commended President Barack Obama for bringing the issue of mismanaging government buildings to light both during his 2011 State of the Union address and his 2012 budget.
“I’m proud that not only do we have bipartisan support in the house and senate, but the President actually wants to engage on this issue,” said Congressman Denham. “I’m very pleased that the President made federal real estate a national priority.”
During his first term, Denham says he worked diligently to have an old post office in his district redeveloped to help create local jobs to boost the economy. In September, the congressman joined Donald Trump at the architectural and design unveiling of the Trump International Hotel that will occupy the old post office building in downtown Washington, D.C., creating 700 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs in the process.
That particular old post office building was losing more than $6 million annually, according to Denham, making it a prime example of the mismanagement that he is attempting to improve. During his testimony, Denham also recognized the General Services Administration’s efforts to reconfigure its headquarters that will triple the amount of employees working there.
Currently housing 2,000 federal employees, the GSA headquarters will consolidate by increasing the amount of employees in one building to 6,000 while vacating two other buildings – a move that Denham foresees as vital in reducing wasteful government spending.
“These properties can be redeveloped, creating those local jobs but also that long ongoing boost to our local economies,” said Congressman Denham. “I believe that a commission that uses the five principles to guide its decisions can have an immediate savings of upwards of $15 billion.”
Denham’s CPRA passed the House last congress with bipartisan support and was re-introduced this congress in mid-February. Last week, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“At the end of the day, the total cost of housing federal government is directly proportional to how much real estate we hold,” said Congressman Denham. “Perhaps one of the greatest areas for tax payer savings will be in the redevelopment or sale of high value, underutilized properties.”