With count complete, feds can start eliminating billions of dollars in wasted property
Kevin Kosar, vice president of policy at the R Street Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said the government’s massive expansion since World War II has saddled it with properties that may be difficult to unload.
“It has really struggled to unload old and unwanted properties which include properties with garages and bathrooms,” he said. “So many of these federal properties sit unused and decaying, and states and localities can’t tax the land beneath them or redevelop them. It is a tragedy.”
The data are maintained by the General Services Administration, which handles most civilian agency property. The data also gave a brief snapshot of military properties.
Combined, the military’s branches and the Army Corps of Engineers own 15.9 million acres of property and lease another 1.2 million acres.
Civilian agencies, meanwhile, reported owning 9.3 million acres. But perhaps the more stunning figure was the total usable space, which came to 1.1 billion square feet.
Mr. Kosar said the government’s rules tend to push agencies to hang on to property. Those looking to slim down their holdings have to transfer ownership to the GSA in order to unload it.
“The intentions behind this policy were to ensure agencies did not sell government assets to cronies and also to harmonize the purchase and sale of federal properties,” he said. “But it has not worked very well and has produced a huge backlog.”