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Peters Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Create Leasing Program for Underutilized Space Held by Federal Agencies

Michigan Business Network
February 2, 2023 4:00 PM

S. Gary Peters

Revenue Generated from Leases Would Help Fund Important Projects, Save Taxpayer Dollars, and Prevent Government Waste

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, reintroduced bipartisan legislation to create a program that allows federal agencies to lease underutilized properties with approval from the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), and to use the rent payments to help fund capital projects and facilities maintenance. Currently, many federal agencies hold underused property that they need and cannot sell – but could be fully utilized by other public or private entities. Revenue generated by leasing properties would save taxpayer dollars and cut down on government waste. Peters introduced similar legislation that passed the Senate last Congress.

“By leasing underutilized public property, federal agencies can reduce costs and raise funds for maintenance and other important projects,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will not only improve government operations and their delivery of essential services to the American people but ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently.”

Federal agencies routinely hold property that could be used more effectively by other public and private entities. For example, an agency campus could have extra space they cannot sell, but could provide an optimal home for solar panels. Some agencies could also have space and equipment they need part-time, but could otherwise be well-suited to university or private partnerships. Peters’ bipartisan legislation would allow federal agencies to explore ways to fully utilize their property, and generate revenue to fund other projects such as long-needed maintenance, revitalization, and other improvements.

The Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs Through Leasing (SMART Leasing) Act would create a pilot program to allow federal agencies to sublease underutilized non-excess real property and related personal property to any person or entity at fair market value, including another department or agency of the federal government or an entity of a state or local government. The legislation requires the GSA Administrator to certify that any lease will not have a negative impact on the mission of the federal agencies and that the terms and conditions of the lease protect the interests of the country. The bill limits the number of leases to six per year to for the first two years after enactment to determine the impacts of this program, at which point GSA can advise Congress on whether the program should be extended or expanded. The legislation was modeled on a similar program used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – which has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the agency to use on capital projects and facilities maintenance. 

Peters has led several efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently. A law written by Peters, the MEGABYTE Act, has saved taxpayers more than $450 million since 2016. His legislation to save taxpayer dollars by directing the GSA to install the most life-cycle cost-effective and energy-efficient lighting in public buildings was signed into law last Congress.


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