OMB has issued an update to its “national strategy for the efficient use of real property” from 2015, although characterizing the action as an “interim step” because “further work is needed to develop a comprehensive and final strategy document.”
OMB Memo M-20-10, termed an addendum, aligns the strategy more closely with the administration’s President’s Management Agenda and calls for steps including: a “comprehensive assessment of current and future mission capability gaps in the portfolio and the capital required to eliminate them”; a “common, government-wide business environment where agencies adopt common business processes and standards and share IT and other tools and capabilities across government to promote better management practices and eliminate redundancy, and prevent needless expenditure of resources”; and identifying changes in law needed to “provide agency leadership with the authority needed to prioritize mission support and cost efficiency.”
“The current strategy is limited because it focuses solely on reducing office and warehouse space; it does not address optimizing the federal portfolio as a whole, across and within agencies, for mission effectiveness and cost efficiency. For example, it does not address the persistent data quality issues that originate from a lack of government-wide data standards and business processes, does not create a role for capital planning to prioritize limited investment funds, and also does not provide a vision to link budget formulation to execution and program outcomes to ensure funds are expended on the highest priority actions, among other improvement areas,” the memo says.
Challenges the government faces in optimizing its real property portfolio, it says, include budgetary constraints that have led to a backlog of an estimated $200 billion in deferred maintenance and the leasing of space where it would be preferable to own property; management of a portfolio of buildings 47 years old on average and not configured to current mission requirements; fragmentation of management among agencies; and “lack of integration among real property budget formulation, execution, and accounting for costs and performance within agencies.”
Also, it says, “sufficient leadership attention has not been provided to manage real property as a strategic asset because real property is often not appreciated as an important component of mission success. The capital acquisition and disposal constraints placed on senior federal managers makes it daunting for them to prioritize significant improvements in the real property portfolio as it may be seen as a Sisyphean task. Consequently, the needs of the real property portfolio do not receive·sustained senior management attention during agency planning and budget formulation processes.”
It adds: “OMB will, in coordination with the Federal Real Property Council and the General Services Administration, perform outreach to private sector entities and other interested parties to ensure that the best practices and strategies employed by the private sector are included in the final strategy.”