Senators file measure to force feds to do some house cleaning of government property

Unneeded federal property. It’s the focus of Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford and three other Senators as they have introduced legislation to force the government to more frequently assess unneeded federal holdings.

Joining with Lankford were Sens. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, Rand Paul, the Republican from Kentucky and Alabama Democrat Doug Jones. The four point out that many federal agencies only declare property as excess during office moves or space reductions.

The four Senators sit on the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency management Subcommittee and filed the Federal Personal Property Management Act.

“Congress has an obligation to the American people to eliminate wasteful, ineffective, or duplicative spending,” said Lankford. “With the national debt at $21 trillion and growing, this bipartisan policy solution will provide federal agencies a clear outline to review the inventory of federal property to determine what is necessary and being fully utilized and what is not. This will prevent future waste, develop oversight of federal proprieties, and save taxpayer’s dollars.”

Sen. Peters said selling excess property is an easy way to cut wasteful spending.

 “This commonsense legislation would ensure the federal government is acting more efficiently with its property and provide greater opportunity for federal property to be utilized by others that need it.”

And Sen. Paul said much the same, “Our bill would help federal agencies carry out some overdue housecleaning by getting rid of property they no longer need, a basic step that will make government a better steward of the American people’s money”

According to a 2018 report from the General Accountability Office (GAO), most federal agencies lack centralized policies for proactively identifying unneeded federal property, including electronics, furniture and other equipment. As a result, this unneeded property is retained indefinitely. Current law leaves agencies greater discretion in classifying the value of property, making it more difficult to understand the true value of the federal government’s personal property holdings.

When agencies declare a piece of property excess, other federal agencies and certain non-agency recipients have 21 days to claim the property. If unclaimed after 21 days, there is a five day period for state agencies to claim property, after which property is declared surplus and made available for sale or donation to the general public.