The House is scheduled to vote this week on a Senate-passed bill (S-1869) to require new scrutiny of ownership of building space leased by federal agencies, in particular whether there is foreign ownership of space where secure activities are conducted.
The bill is a response to a 2017 GAO report finding that federal agencies were vulnerable to espionage and other cyber intrusions because foreign actors could gain unauthorized access to spaces used for classified operations or to store sensitive data. That report found that agencies including the FBI and DEA were storing law enforcement evidence and other sensitive data in buildings that they didn’t know were foreign-owned.
The bill would require the GSA to design a verification system that identifies a property’s owners if the space would be used for high-security purposes. It also would require the GSA and individual agencies to include provisions in their leasing agreements limiting property owners’ physical access to spaces the government uses for high-security purposes.