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Peters Bipartisan Bills to Save Taxpayer Dollars and Prevent Government Waste by Reducing Cost of Operating Federal Buildings Advance in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two bipartisan bills authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) to save taxpayer dollars and ensure that government is working effectively and efficiently for the American people have advanced in the Senate. The legislation was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. The bills would direct the General Services Administration (GSA) to install the most life-cycle cost effective and energy-efficient lighting in public buildings and create a program that allows federal agencies to lease underutilized properties with approval from the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA).

“Reducing the cost of operating and maintaining federal properties is an important way to make sure that Americans’ and Michiganders’ tax dollars are being put to good use by the government,” said Senator Peters. “Now that these important, bipartisan bills have advanced in the Senate, I’ll continue working to ensure that they are signed into law so that we can make our federal buildings more energy efficient and help other public and private organizations make productive use of underutilized government property.”

The Saving Money and Accelerating Repairs Through Leasing (SMART Leasing) Act would create a pilot program to allow federal agencies to sublease underutilized non-excess real property and related personal property to any person or entity at fair market value, including another department or agency of the federal government or an entity of a state or local government. The legislation requires the GSA Administrator to certify that any lease will not have a negative impact on the mission of the federal agencies, and that the terms and conditions of the lease protect the interests of the country. The bill limits the number of leases to six per year to determine the impacts of this program through 2024, at which point GSA can advise Congress on whether the program should be extended or expanded. The legislation was modeled on a similar program used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – which has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the agency to use on capital projects and facilities maintenance. 

The Bulb Replacement Improving Government with High-Efficiency Technology (BRIGHT) Act requires the GSA Administrator to ensure that public buildings are using the most life-cycle cost effective and energy-efficient technology to the extent practicable when performing normal maintenance, altering or constructing public buildings. The bill also requires GSA to issue guidance to federal agencies, and state, local and Tribal entities to further streamline efficiency and effectiveness across government. GSA previously released a series of reports that calculated that switching to LED lightbulbs would result in millions of dollars in cost-savings due to their superior lifespan and energy efficiency. Federal law does not currently require the government to maximize long-term cost and energy savings across lighting products.

Peters has led several efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently. A law written by Peters, the MEGABYTE Act, has saved taxpayers more than $450 million since 2016. Peters’ bipartisan bill to save taxpayer dollars by updating policies to help federal agencies adopt electric vehicles, which are more energy efficient than traditional gas-powered vehicles was also signed into law last year.