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Government Operations subcommittee plans a field trip

empty DC warehouse

There will (we're pretty sure) be no 'Reservoir Dogs' tactics when Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) holds a hearing at this vacant warehouse in southeast D.C., but witnesses can expect some tough questions. (Photo: Google Maps Street View)

Say you're a federal employee and the chairman of a key oversight subcommittee asks to meet you in a vacant warehouse near the Anacostia River so he can ask you a few questions. It sounds scary, but it’s not a hypothetical.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform committee has summoned a panel of witnesses, including General Services Administration deputy commissioner Michael Gelber, to an empty storage building about halfway between an elevated highway and Nationals Park for an April 25 hearing on wasted federal properties.

The warehouse at 49 L St. SE in Washington, D.C. costs the government $70,000 per year, according to the hearing notice, yet it has stood empty since September 2009. Mica, who has oversight authority over a wide range of federal IT issues but has always had a special interest in agency real estate, plans to use this capacious and conspicuously empty stage to make a larger point – that taxpayers are ponying up an estimated $1.67 billion to maintain vacant or underused federal real estate.

The Government Accountability Office has rated the government’s federal real estate operations as "high risk," in part because the government lacks data about its real estate portfolio to guide its management practices. The GAO’s David Wise will testify at the hearing, along with Tommy Wells, a Washington D.C. city council member and likely mayoral candidate and Ed Kaminski, an area resident who sits on a neighborhood advisory council.

Warehouse concerns won't keep technology issues off the agenda for long, however. Back in March, Mica told FCW that he expects to take a look at the government’s data center consolidation efforts and other federal IT issues in the coming months.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:10 PM


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