Webster Statement from Hearing on Identifying Risk to GSA Facilities
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL) from today’s hearing entitled, “Capital Investment Program: Identifying Risk to GSA Facilities”:
I want to thank the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Buildings Commissioner for being here today.
Last week, the Committee passed eight resolutions for special emphasis programs and alterations that addressed different risks for GSA’s aging portfolio. These resolutions tackled seismic mitigation, fire alarms and life safety, judiciary security, and assessments on building vulnerability to natural disasters.
As the committee that oversees FEMA and disaster programs, we have a particular interest in ensuring agencies like GSA understand the risks to its facilities and are working with agencies like FEMA that have robust risk data readily available. FEMA has the National Risk Index, for example, which factors in 18 natural hazards and expected annual loss. This kind of data can help communities to make necessary hazard mitigation plans.
GSA also faces risk by holding onto properties that no longer serve a need for the federal government. The Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (FASTA) was passed with the intent to not just simply streamline the disposal process, but to get agencies to look more strategically at their assets. The goal is to produce results that could include sales, redevelopments, outleases, and other activities that make the most sense financially and operationally.
To achieve significant changes, it takes the Administration, including GSA and OMB, working together with Congress to get agencies to make better decisions about their space and take new developments into account, like the increased telework posture and need for less space.
It also means alternative financing options should be on the table as well. It makes no sense for the taxpayer to effectively pay for a building, sometimes many times over, through a lease, only to then have to pay fair market value to own it. GSA has the legal authorities to negotiate discounted purchase options and enter into public private partnerships but has not taken advantage of those authorities. GSA should use these authorities where appropriate to facilitate the right-sizing of the portfolio and reduce costs to the taxpayer.
I hope we can work together to address GSA’s growing deferred maintenance costs and ultimately reduce costs for the taxpayer through strategic investment. I look forward to hearing from our witness today on GSA’s risk mitigation strategy and plans for the Capital Investment Program.
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