Diaz-Balart Resolution Seeks More Accountability in Stimulus Spending
Washington, DC – A measure seeking more accountability for billions of dollars in proposed stimulus funding for the federal agency that manages federal real property was introduced in the House today by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
Diaz-Balart is the Ranking Republican of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican Leader, John L. Mica (R-FL), as well as Subcommittee members Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mary Fallin (R-OK), Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA) are cosponsors of the measure (H.Res. 163 –click here).
At a Subcommittee hearing yesterday, Diaz-Balart outlined his concerns that the stimulus package may provide billions of dollars in funding to the General Services Administration (GSA) with little effective oversight of how the funds will actually be spent.
“This resolution calls for an emphasis on creating jobs and increasing oversight of taxpayer dollars being used for public buildings,” said Diaz-Balart. “It is critical that we ensure effective oversight to avoid wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. The current bill is not a job-creating stimulus bill – it is nothing more than a bill to grow the federal bureaucracy. Just like the TARP bailout, it is a blank check that we cannot afford. The Subcommittee has the obligation to make sure the funds are used for what they are intended and that jobs are created in the process.”
GSA is the largest public real estate organization, managing over 8,600 real estate assets with close to 354 million square feet of space. These assets include federal office buildings, courthouses, land ports of entry, and warehouses located in all 50 states, the territories, and the District of Columbia. GSA projects include new construction, repairs and maintenance, and acquisition.
The resolution is intended to provide at least some oversight guidance to GSA in how it proceeds with projects that would be funded by any stimulus legislation. The only oversight mechanisms currently proposed in the stimulus package to avoid such wasteful spending only serve to highlight problems after money is already obligated or spent.
The resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that:
1) The General Services Administration should not proceed with any project for which a prospectus has been submitted to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, unless the prospectus is approved and the project does not exceed 10% of the amount approved. In conducting oversight of this issue, the Committee has the responsibility to approve worthwhile projects and reject wasteful ones. This provision is intended to make clear that GSA should not proceed with projects the Committee has intentionally not approved and considers wasteful.
2) The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure should receive a detailed plan, including the number of jobs created, by project, prior to GSA taking any actions in furtherance of the project. While similar reporting requirements were contained in both the Senate and House versions of the stimulus package, the bills only required reports to the Appropriations committees.