Earlier this month in a presidential memorandum, President Barack Obama declared that the federal government is wasting money on unneeded property and he ordered federal agencies to find $3 billion in cost savings by selling unused assets and reducing property-related expenditures. The president wrote:
"For decades, the Federal Government, the largest property owner and energy user in the United States, has managed more real estate than necessary to effectively support its programs and missions. Both taxpayer dollars and energy resources are being wasted to maintain these excess assets.
"...To eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, save energy and water, and further reduce greenhouse gas pollution, I hereby direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to accelerate efforts to identify and eliminate excess properties. Agencies shall also take immediate steps to make better use of remaining real property assets..."
Peter Orzag, director of the Office of Management and Budget agreed, stating that, "Federal agencies operate and maintain more real property assets than necessary, unnecessarily raising costs to the taxpayer."
A new Reason Foundation study highlights how little the federal government actually knows about the land and property it owns and shows federal agencies how they can develop useful online inventory systems that identify surplus property and reduce costs.
"There is a real opportunity here to indentify waste and reduce unnecessary spending. Federal officials need to follow President Obama's lead and identify what the federal government owns, determine whether government or private ownership is the most effective use of that property and then reduce costs by selling or leasing under-used and unneeded property," said Anthony Randazzo, co-author of the Reason Foundation report.
The Reason Foundation study makes 12 recommendations for the federal government:
- Build a real property inventory.
- Start by evaluating any existing inventories.
- Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to map and catalog real property data.
- Centralize and streamline the management of all state or local property.
- Standardize reporting methods for all government agencies and divisions.
- Put the inventory online for public access.
- Use the inventory to make informed decisions and manage the properties.
- Keep the inventory up to date online.
- Divest unneeded land and assets to save taxpayer money.
- Utilize the wide range of private sector expertise available to manage the assets.
- Align the assets and inventory with defined policy goals.
- Look for efficiency gains.
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Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109