Agencies forced to freeze office space footprint

Thursday - 3/14/2013, 8:18pm EDT

Agencies have until May 15 to submit a plan to the General Services Administration for maintaining their total square footage for office and warehouse space. The Office of Management and Budget along with GSA will monitor the agencies' property management on an annual basis under a new "Freeze the Footprint" policy.

The baseline will be "calculated based on the FY 2012 Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) data, FY 2012 GSA Occupancy Agreements (OAs), and FY 2012 agency leasing agreements (for each agency that has independent leasing authority)," wrote OMB Controller Danny Werfel in a new memo sent to agencies Thursday.

"Today's guidance also expands on the President's 2010 directive to agencies to identify cost savings through better real estate management," wrote Werfel in a new blog post. "In the directive, the President set an ambitious goal of eliminating $8 billion in real estate costs by 2012: $5 billion in savings through DOD's Base Realignment and Closure Commission process and $3 billion in non-BRAC savings. By the end of FY 2012 federal agencies identified over $3.5 billion in non-BRAC real estate savings through disposals, space management, and sustainable energy and innovative real property management practices. In addition, DOD identified $5.1 billion in real-estate savings related to BRAC."

OMB also submitted legislation to Congress to create a civilian BRAC type process to more quickly sell off unused or underutilized real property. Congress did little to advance the bill.

OMB, along with GSA, will monitor how agencies are managing and using their current properties. Agencies will be required to report to OMB and GSA on an annual basis.

Once GSA has consolidated this data and submitted it to agencies, departments will have 14 days to comment on them or submit additional information for consideration.

Once each agency has a baseline, any growth in office or warehouse space must be offset by a reduction in other space. Some properties that may count as offsets include:

  • Properties declared as "excess;"

  • Properties located at military installations closed or realigned under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) effort;

  • Space that is leased through GSA, but will not be renewed

Properties that are temporarily not in use, enhanced-use leases and outleases do not qualify as an offset.

The three-year Revised Real Property Cost Savings and Innovation Plans due on May 15 will be a revision of the 2010 plans with a narrower focus and a prospective analysis of spending for the next three years. The revisions must be submitted within 120 days of the deadline for Federal Real Property Profile data.

Each agencies plan should include:

  • How they will maintain their 2012 footprint, including planned consolidations, co-locations, disposals and new construction projects and leases. OMB wants at least three examples of planned changes that can be tracked publicly.

  • The documentation of costs to show total amount spent on federal and private-sector leasing and an analysis for how the agency will control leasing and other costs in the future.

  • An explanation of efficiency that analyzes the steps an agency is taking to maximize and increase efficiency of its current space and cost alternatives to acquisition of new space, such as teleworking and hoteling.

  • A description of internal controls, including how the agency will execute offsets, the certification process for approving new leases or space and the tracking of domestic agency space and offsets to ensure no annual growth.
OMB wants agencies to submit a Revised Real Property Cost Savings and Innovation Plan every three years. Additionally, department's senior real property officer and CFO will submit to OMB an evaluation that assesses performance against the Freeze the Footprint policy, and details where the agency needs to adjust its plans.

OMB will conduct an annual compliance review. Along with GSA, the administration will look at current year agency square footage compared to 2012 baseline, the revised Real Property Cost Savings and Innovation Plan, and the annual agency evaluation.

Werfel said all the data will be posted on Peformance.gov under the financial management section.

RELATED STORIES:

OMB to flesh out details of civilian BRAC effort

Agency success breeds new real property disposal goals