President Obama’s plan to sell some 14,000 surplus federal properties could be a valuable opportunity for the government to raise revenue and help local economies, including the District and surrounding areas, but it needs to be done right. This opportunity will be wasted if the government simply holds a fire sale and dumps properties quickly to the lowest bidder without carefully considering their individual value.
Rather than just relying on federal agencies, the government needs to use the know-how of private commercial real estate experts to identify creative ways of ensuring the maximum return to taxpayers.
A House subcommittee that oversees federal buildings recently approved legislation that would create a civilian equivalent of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) to decide how to dispose of the federal properties that the government says it doesn’t need but spends millions to maintain.
Congress created BRAC in 1990 to make nonpartisan, objective recommendations about which military bases no longer were needed. Similarly, the Civilian Property Realignment Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), would create an independent board to submit all or nothing recommendations to Congress regarding which surplus federal properties it believes should be sold.