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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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Reader comments

Thu, Apr 25, 2013

I have seen the same stuff going on where I work. We had some apartments that were empty for over 10 years that the Fed sat on - and these apartments were in a college zone where apartments of all types were in high demand. The only use they got was that the students realized they were empty and made use of the free parking. Meanwhile the apartments were vandalized, Feds lost money maintaining them, the local tax authority lost revenue because they were not generating taxes, and the students lost some excellant, well located housing. It was a lose, lose, lose, lose situation - all because the Feds really did not care about wasting money and resources enough to get off their b___s to fix the situation. They finally sold it, but could have either sold it earlier or found some way to rent it out in the interim if someone had put any serious effort into it. Part of the problem was the over abundance of regulations these people have to put up with that they just throw up their hands and walk away from it, also because their superiors have other, more glamorous, things they would rather do than find ways to save tax dollars, and too many politicians are more interested in raising taxes and spending money than in properly managing the Government's assets.

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 fed worker

As a federal employee, this 'factfinding' missions seldom find facts. Most employees are reluctant to state anything that may reflect poorly on their superiors. No promise of comments being kept confidential can be trusted. The only sources that _may_ provide embarassing facts are those planning a separation from service (retirement, etc),

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