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Obama to propose federal property board, save $15 billion


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Libya from the White House in Washington February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Libya from the White House in Washington February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday will propose saving billions of taxpayer dollars through creation of an independent board to recommend the sale of federal property, an administration official said.

Obama, who previewed the plan in his 2012 budget and State of the Union Address, will suggest naming the board from the private and public sector to make recommendations to Congress for rationalizing federal civilian real estate holdings.

"For too long red tape and politics have prevented the government from moving forward on these fronts," the official said, adding that the board was expected to return $15 billion over the first three years in operation.

The White House estimates there are around 14,000 federal properties designated as excess, plus thousands of others which are either no longer needed, or are underutilized.

Democrat Obama, under intense pressure from his Republican opponents to cut government spending and narrow a budget deficit estimated at $1.645 trillion this fiscal year, is trying to squeeze savings by making the government more efficient.

His budget proposed a five-year freeze on nonsecurity discretionary spending to lower the deficit $400 billion over 10 years. Republicans warn these steps don't go far enough.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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