New Law Requires Federal Agencies To Disclose If They Are Leasing Foreign Land

( A new bipartisan bill was signed into law this week, in a refreshing sign that Congress can still sometimes do good things. The new legislation requires the federal government to build a new system that identifies the owners of properties before using those spaces for federal government or high-security purposes.

The Secure Federal Leases from Espionage And Suspicious Entanglements Act requires all “immediate, highest-level, and beneficial owners” of property must first be identified before it is used for federal government purposes. The new system of identifying owners must now be put in place by the General Services Administration, and be ready for January 2023.

Trust government to take two years to develop a system of…checking who owns land before they buy it?

The new legislation also requires that the GSA and federal agencies include new provisions within lease agreements when developing new high-security offices and facilities. Some of these provisions include stopping property management firms and owners from having any physical access to the spaces when leased.

Kind of amazing that this wasn’t already the law…

Republican Senator Rob Portman introduced the bill alongside Democratic Senator for Michigan, Gary Peters, in June 2019.

Senator Portman Praised President Trump’s signing the bill into law.

“I applaud President Trump for signing into law this important legislation to help ensure our federal agencies are prepared to address the risk of espionage and unauthorized cyber and physical access to federally leased buildings,” he said.

The decision to implement new laws comes at a time when the United States is under attack from foreign adversaries. Recently, Russian “Cozy Bear” hackers were revealed to have accessed government computer systems by exploiting the SolarWinds software. This week, the United States formally blamed Russia from the attacks in a joint statement from the FBI, ODNI, NSA, and CISA.

The legislation also came after a 2017 report that revealed how leasing space in buildings owned by foreign governments and businesses “could present security risks such as espionage, unauthorized cyber and physical access to the facilities, and sabotage.”

Again…why did nobody think of this sooner?

Incredibly, the report also found that the federal government could not identify the owners of roughly one-third of the 1,406 leased properties used by the federal government.

Perhaps this needs to be fixed sooner than 2023…