Last month, we attended the 2014 Federal Property and Private/Public Partnership Summit in Washington, DC. Norman Dong (Commissioner, Public Building Service, GSA) and Julia Hudson (Regional Administrator for the National Capital Region, GSA), along with other panelists, discussed the impact of the current fiscal environment on real property spending, and provided important insights about the road ahead over the next fiscal for real property transactions and PPPs, including:
- Section 412 Swaps – Mr. Dong commented that Section 412 swaps have “lots of potential,” in part because they force the Government to “engage” with the private sector. (Section 412 of the General Services Administration General Provisions, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 permits GSA to convey, by sale, lease, exchange or otherwise, real estate and use the net proceeds sell, lease or swap real estate and use proceeds for real property capital needs.)
- Excess and Underutilized Property – Mr. Dong noted that there is now a “greater sensitivity to look at needs of excess property and act on it.” Accordingly, OMB is working closely with GSA and other agencies to do more with excess and underutilized property, although OMB has not provided formal guidance directing this effort.
- Holdover Lease Situations – Ms. Hudson commented that there is an “aggressive strategic plan in place to avoid holdover situations.” Mr. Dong also noted that GSA needed greater visibility regarding specific benchmarks and advanced planning to determine what needs to be done 36 months out, 24 months out, etc. in order to avoid simply renewing the lease.
- PPPs – Mr. Dong discussed the need to maximize the impact of limited federal dollars, and noted that more creativity is needed in this new era of fiscal restraints in order to push projects forward. PPPs can be part of the solution.
- Doing More With Less – Mr. Dong indicated that funding will be available for projects in FY 14 and beyond, but that the mantra will be “do more with less.”
Mr. Dong and Ms. Hudson also discussed the status of certain upcoming big projects:
Federal Triangle South – An RFP should be released later this summer.
- New FBI Headquarters – There should be a short list of sites by the end of the summer.
- St. Elizabeths Campus – This project is “full steam ahead”; an RFQ for Phase II was just released.
- Old Post Office – The Trump organization started work two weeks ago on this project.
All in all, despite declining budgets, it looks like there will be some good opportunities in Federal real property and public private partnerships over the next year.