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GSA Creates 'Good Neighbor Program' A New Partnership with America's Cities

GSA #9344

September 30, 1996
Contact: Joanna Roark
Pager: 888-351-6215
Hap Connors
202-501-1231

DALLAS -- David J. Barram, Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, today announced the "Good Neighbor Program," a new public-private partnership with urban downtown associations that will enhance the business community's efforts to maintain the vitality of American cities. Under the program, GSA, which manages real estate and procurements for civilian federal agencies, will become a full participant in local "Business Improvement Districts."

Speaking this morning at the International Downtown Association's annual conference in Dallas, Barram said, "GSA will work with the leaders of our cities in any and every way feasible in a new and constructive partnership. We can use the resources of GSA to leverage local resources and become really 'Good Neighbors.'"

During his remarks, Barram read a letter of support from Vice President Al Gore, who chairs the Clinton Administration's Community Empowerment Board, that said: "The President and I believe that simple measures like this one are concrete steps toward reinventing the federal government and creating a new way of doing business with communities. These BIDs are an excellent example of how public-private partnerships can help our nation's cities."

Barram said that at the invitation of a local downtown group, the "Good Neighbor Program" establishes a new approach for GSA to contract for local services to the extent possible and participate in community planning efforts. GSA will negotiate contracts for security, maintenance, cleaning and other services currently provided under local "Business Improvement Districts." GSA will also participate in advisory boards and committees.

Barram joined Margaret Mullen, chairman of the International Downtown Association, in signing a Memorandum of Understanding to begin discussions on how to best implement the program.

"Our members welcome and appreciate this new program that extends the partnerships between many downtowns and the federal government which began under the Clinton Administration," Mullen said. "It is a model for the relationship which should exist with downtown organizations and all kinds of government and civic organizations. We all recognize that maintaining and enhancing the health of America's cities benefits us all."

The "Good Neighbor Program" builds on existing Clinton Administration urban policies involving GSA and federal real estate activity. Two Executive Orders -- E.O. 12072 and 13006 -- require federal agencies to first consider locating in central business areas and in historic buildings and districts that best serve communities. E.O. 12072 was issued in 1976 under the Carter Administration and was affirmed when President Clinton issued Executive Order 13006.

GSA is also part of Vice President Gore's Community Empowerment Board that oversees the Clinton Administration's Empowerment Zone initiative. Under the initiative, GSA has transferred excessed federal properties and supplies and provided technical support to local communities.

The agency has also transferred hundreds of excessed federal computers to schools located in Empowerment Zones and other areas across the country as part of President Clinton's Executive Order 12999, which outlines the Administration's "computers-to-schools" program.

"Through these efforts, we are building partnerships with local communities to bring out the best instincts of government," Barram said.