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Obama seeks special panel to unload federal real estate

May 5, 2011 6:55:00 AM - thestate.com
The Obama administration Wednesday formally proposed a special commission to help shed some of the federal government's 14,000 surplus properties.

By using a nonpartisan panel resembling those impaneled for closing military bases, administration officials hope to sidestep the impediments that until now have hindered surplus property disposal.

"Having an independent board of experts can push through political gridlock," said Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, adding that "it will change how Washington works."

Though Obama previously proposed a surplus property commission earlier this year, as part of his fiscal 2012 budget plan, officials on Wednesday provided specific legislative language for the first time.

The legislation would establish a presidentially appointed, seven-member Civilian Property Realignment Board to evaluate surplus federal properties. The commission's recommendations to "significantly reduce" the real estate inventory would be voted up or down by Congress, with no amendments allowed.

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