Read the full text of the VA Program Comment in the Federal Register.

Summary

On October 26, 2018, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) issued a "Program Comment for Vacant and Underutilized Properties" at the request of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA Program Comment enables VA to proceed with certain undertakings following an expedited Section 106 review process that complements VA’s real property priorities in finding uses for its vacant and underutilized properties. The VA Program Comment is designed to reduce vacant and underutilized properties in VA's real property portfolio and allow VA to redirect limited operations and maintenance staff and funding to those facilities supporting delivery of services and benefits to veterans. The VA Program Comment will remain in effect until October 26, 2028.

What is a Program Comment?

A Program Comment is an alternative process a federal agency may use to comply with the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Section 106 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties and provide the ACHP a reasonable opportunity to comment on such undertakings. The ACHP is the federal agency tasked with overseeing the Section 106 review process and issuing implementing regulationsThe Section 106 regulations at 36 CFR Part 800, set forth the process by which federal agencies comply with NHPA requirements. Under Section 800.14(e), federal agencies may request the ACHP provide a Program Comment on a particular program and category of undertakings in lieu of conducting individual reviews of each undertaking as set forth in 36 CFR Sections 800.3 through 800.7.

VA Program Comment Implementation - Current Status

The 2019 List of Vacant and Underutilized Properties includes 390 buildings. At VA's discretion, any of these buildings could be subject to the Program Comment should an applicable undertaking be proposed. Applicable undertakings include: 

(1) Enhanced-Use Leases (EULs) and NHPA Section 111 Leases and Exchanges;
(2) Sales, Transfers, Exchanges, and Conveyances;
(3) Deconstruction and Demolition; and
(4) Maintenance and repair of non-historic properties and utilitarian historic properties.

The steps for using the Program Comment begin with VA facility staff filling out the Program Comment Project Form and submitting it to VA's Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) for approval. Once approved by the FPO, VA can then follow the relevant steps detailed in the Program Comment based on the type of property (i.e. historic vs. non-historic and utilitarian vs. non-utilitarian).

Vacant and Underutilized Properties

Related VA Resources

Contacts for Further Information

Angela McArdle
Program Analyst | VA Liaison
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Phone: (202) 517-0221
Email: amcardle@achp.gov

Doug Pulak 
Federal Preservation Officer (FPO)
Department of Veterans Affairs
Phone: (202) 632-5462
Email: douglas.pulak@va.gov

Alec Bennett
Senior Historic Preservation Specialist
Department of Veterans Affairs
Phone: (202) 632-4897
Email: alec.bennett@va.gov