The ACHP plays a key role in fostering the preservation of historically significant buildings under federal ownership or control through its oversight of the Section 106 review process and by carrying out its responsibilities under Executive Order 13287, “Preserve America” (EO). The EO requires that every three years federal agencies report to the ACHP and the Secretary of the Interior on progress they have made in identifying, using, and protecting historic properties under their ownership or control.
On February 15, 2018, the ACHP conveyed its fifth triennial Section 3 Report to the President, In a Spirit of Stewardship: A Report on Federal Historic Property Management, in accordance with EO 13287. One of the 2018 report’s six findings stated, “Fostering and encouraging the reuse of historic facilities by federal agencies or others creates cost-effective preservation outcomes.” Accompanying this finding was a recommendation to convene an inter-agency working group, “to develop success stories and guidance on consolidation and inter-agency collaboration for co-location in federally owned historic buildings and preservation and training for relevant agency personnel.” The 2018 report also suggested that the ACHP’s Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP) survey property management agencies to identify obstacles to reusing or “outleasing” historic properties under NHPA Sections 110 and 111 and develop recommendations for overcoming those obstacles.
Such a working group aligns with White House and congressional goals to address maintenance backlogs and reduce agency footprints. Cost-effective preservation outcomes are those that leverage historic federal buildings, saving taxpayer dollars while spurring preservation and reinvestment relative to new construction on and/or leasing of privately owned property. Such outcomes, often in the form of public-private partnerships, capitalize on decades of prior investment in and stewardship of historic federal buildings, while also accounting for long-term federal space needs. Successful outcomes support federal agency efforts to comply with Sections 106, 110, and 111 of the NHPA as well as the Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act (1976). While agencies have made strides with private leasing and reuse of federal historic buildings, as well as federal co-location in such buildings, the establishment of an inter-agency working group to develop “best practices” and guidance will further promote their preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use.
In response to the recommendations in the 2018 report, on October 11, 2019, ACHP Chairman Aimee Jorjani established a working group of federal and non-federal stakeholders. The working group membership includes Senior Policy Officials from six key federal agencies that manage significant and complex property holdings and have leasing authority as well as leadership from two non-federal stakeholders that play an important role in advising federal agencies.
Members include the following:
- General Services Administration (GSA)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Park Service (NPS)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
- National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO)
- National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP)
The goals of the inter-agency working group are to help the ACHP develop recommendations for overcoming obstacles to increased leasing of federal historic buildings to the private sector, and to provide guidance on agency reuse and consolidation in federal historic buildings. The working group is also helping the ACHP develop “best practices” for leasing federal historic buildings to the private sector, identify leasing policy issues which warrant attention by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and develop leasing success stories which demonstrate how agencies have overcome leasing challenges and protected federal historic buildings. This working group also serves to foster a network of support across the federal government that can serve as a resource for other federal agencies looking to improve and expand their adaptive reuse/outleasing programs. Highlights of past working group meetings are included below.