WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, on Tuesday obtained the commitment of the General Services Administration (GSA) to work with Barletta's Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee to enter into long-term leases for office space to potentially save billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Near the end of a roundtable to discuss the federal office space leasing program, Public Buildings Service Commissioner Norman Dong pledged to work with Barletta's Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management on saving money through long-term renewed leases for federal offices, according to a press release from Barletta's office. The subcommittee has already saved taxpayers more than $1 billion through better utilization of federal leased office space, he said.

"If we can commit to replace these leases with long-term deals that shrink the federal footprint in a down market, then we can save a lot more than a billion dollars," Barletta was quoted in the release. "This is my top priority for GSA: replacing the leases on time and with good long-term deals. Commissioner Dong, I hope you share this goal. Can I count on you to partner with us?"

"Absolutely," Commissioner Dong replied.

Leased space makes up more than half of GSA's real estate portfolio, with approximately half of those leases set to expire over the next five years. With the real estate market in a downward cycle, lease rates are currently lower than in years past. Locking in current lease rates would benefit taxpayers, while also providing real estate brokers with long-term contracts and certainty they may otherwise lack.

"We believe this is a win-win for all of us, including the real estate community," Barletta said.