Statement of Robert A. Peck
Commissioner, Public Buildings Service
General Services Administration
February 17, 1998

Senator Baucus: I am Robert Peck, Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service (PBS), within the General Services Administration (GSA). PBS is the service responsible for providing real property asset management that enables Federal employees to accomplish their missions. PBS manages nationwide an inventory of 285 million square feet of primarily office, judicial and storage space, in over 8,000 buildings of which approximately 1,800 are government owned. More than 200 of these owned buildings are on the National Register. Obviously, we have a very real presence in urban communities throughout the country, and I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the commitment of the Public Buildings Service to the invigoration of the economic and civic life of the nation's cities.

It is the goal of the Public Buildings Service to build on the Federal presence in local communities, to strengthen local partnership and participate in community revitalization initiatives. We have called this national effort our "Good Neighbor Program".

This program is a way for PBS, through its existing legal, regulatory and contractual authorities, to undertake a broad range of civic initiatives in communities that support our mission to provide quality work environments for Federal workers and value to the American taxpayer.

We offer space for cultural, educational, recreational or commercial activities, provide restaurants and shops open to the public on the major pedestrian access levels of Federal buildings, and host community events and activities in Federal buildings and plazas, under the auspices of the Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976. PBS also participates in downtown management districts, including Business Improvement Districts.

In 1997 alone, we renewed over 800 leases in 500 downtown communities. We paid private lessors over $2 billion dollars, and we hosted more than 5,000 community events and activities in Federal buildings and plazas.

PBS actively implements the President's Executive Orders 12072 and 13006. GSA's has issued an interim rule for E.O. 12072 and an advisory bulletin on E.O. 13006. The interim rule provides guidance to Federal agencies to locate in Federal facilities in urban areas. The bulletin encourages the agencies to use a variety of methods in giving first consideration to downtown historic properties and districts. It is our policy to work with our customer agencies to meet their requirements to locate downtown, and it is our policy to coordinate directly with cities, urban interest groups, and local jurisdictions.

It is important to understand, that when locating Federal agencies, first consideration is always given to central business areas and historical districts. We work with agencies to provide productive workspace. We help agencies refine their requirements in ways that encourage maximum competition among competing sources. Oftentimes, we can find space solutions in buildings that agencies, at first blush, do not think can meet their needs. In the end, market competition and creative space solutions result in good value to the taxpayer. If a local market cannot provide effective workspace at good value to the taxpayer within the central business area or the historic district, we must expand our search beyond those areas or districts.

Our commitment to being Good is multifaceted. GSA is a member of the President's Council for Sustainable Development. In 1997 GSA transferred millions in surplus federal property to local communities for public uses. We have entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist communities to remediate brownfield sites in urban communities. Under Presidential Executive Order 12999, Computers˙2Dto˙2Dschools, GSA provides surplus computers to schools as part of this national initiative.

Under our umbrella Good Neighbor" Program all of these policies come together in a single focus, to make the federal presence a positive and active part of the community.

This concludes my testimony, and I would be happy to answer any questions which you may wish to address.