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FHWA Office of Real Estate Services Research Results: 2006 Strategic Vision for the Public Sector Real Estate Profession


Executive Summary

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Real Estate Services, in its role as the lead agency for the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended (Uniform Act), initiated a research project to identify the future needs of public sector real estate (PSR).  The purpose of this effort was to facilitate strategic and future oriented thinking by the public sector real estate community in terms of:

FHWA research, in preparation for this study, suggested that combining forecasts from different methods and from independent experts improves accuracy. To this end, FHWA asked each of its three research contractors to conduct independent research projects, following a general scope, but utilizing its own independent research approaches.  The work of the three research teams will be synthesized and integrated; and the best ideas will be carried forward. This report summarizes the work of one of the teams. 

Research Approach and Methodology

This team's research approach and methodology entailed:

As its primary research vehicle, the study team conducted a series of brainstorming sessions with a team of ten (10) stakeholders who have substantial public sector real estate experience with FHWA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Park Service, two state departments of transportation, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and a large Local Public Agency.  A detailed literature search jump-started and supplemented the brainstorming process.

Visioning how anticipated trends over the next 30 years will affect public sector real estate

The research team identified a number of external and internal forces that could be expected to impact public sector real estate over the next thirty years.  The team categorized the internal and external forces for planning purposes into several major trend areas as follows:

The team analyzed the impacts of each of these trends on public sector real estate in terms of 10 year and 30 year planning horizons.

Provided below is a summary of the findings from each of these trend areas and their anticipated impact on public sector real estate.

Developing a Mission Statement and Strategic Plan to Meet These Challenges

In response to the various trends, challenges, and opportunities being envisioned over the next 30 years, it is anticipated that the public sector real estate function will shift from a support organization that is focused primarily on the core real estate transactions associated with a project, to one that is an integral partner throughout the project lifecycle from inception to completion and beyond to operation.  

Public sector real estate's customers will change from primarily Federal, State, and Local entities to a broader mix of customers including large, multi-national consortiums, non-profit groups, and a wide range of Local entities.   These new customers will have less experience with public sector real estate, especially initially, putting a premium on the role of the federal real estate community to educate these customers on the importance of the real estate function.  Consequently, it will be paramount for public sector real estate to take a more proactive stance in defining its role, explaining and sustaining its value to the project development process, and stepping into a leadership rather than a supporting role.

In support of this transition, the research team has proposed the following mission statement for the public sector real estate community:

"Public sector real estate will become a value-added partner that actively engages with customers through a world-class work force and effectively leverages technology to operate efficiently and provide effective customer service."

To implement this mission, the study team has proposed a number of objectives.   These include:

1 The term "Infrastructure" refers to not just highways, but housing, parks, forest services, and all other public benefit improvements in the purview of real estate services.

2 Kelo v. City of New London, 125 S. Ct. 2655 (2005)

Updated: 10/20/2015
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