Hatch, Lee Introduce Bill to Require Accurate Inventory of Federal Lands

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Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced a bill that would require the federal government to start keeping an accurate inventory of all of its real estate holdings, including energy-rich public lands in Utah and other states.

The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act would authorize the federal government to work with the private sector to develop a single, comprehensive database that would list all of the land it owns.

“Everyone knows that the federal government is the nation’s largest landowner. In fact, they own more than 60 percent of all the land in Utah,” Hatch said. “Incredibly, though, no one knows precisely how much the federal government owns because it does not keep an accurate inventory, which can and has led to waste and poor management.

“This bill will require the government to use existing technology to put an end to this problem through the development of a single, uniform, database that will identify all federal landholdings,” Hatch continued. “That will help the federal and state governments know what lands are available for sale and how much energy and other resources are available on those holdings for development. It also will save taxpayer money by eliminating the more than two-score inaccurate, wasteful and duplicative databases the government currently relies on to track its real estate holdings.”

The change is long overdue, according to the National Academy of Sciences, which has called for the development of a single federal land registry for more than three decades. In fact, the current system is so fraught with waste, duplication and other problems that the General Accounting Office has place “Managing Federal Property” in its High Risk Series since 2003.

If passed, the FLAIR Act would authorize the U.S. Department of the Interior to conduct an inventory of all the existing databases, whether efficient or inefficient, and work with the private business to merge them into a single comprehensive system.

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