Awesome: Vacant federal properties cost taxpayers billions every year

posted at 9:21 pm on March 27, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

As I already mentioned earlier this week, President Obama just unilaterally designated five new national monuments and parks to the federal government’s keeping, and it might be easy to dismiss any partisan objections to his decision as just the complaints of those gosh darn spiteful, stubborn Republicans for whom the president can’t do anything right. After all, for what reason could anyone possibly object to something as seemingly benign as bringing a few more properties under the federal bureaucracy’s stewardship?

Oh hey, here’s a pretty good reason.

The federal government owns or leases between 55,000 and 77,000 vacant properties. But it’s impossible to tell exactly how many. No precise inventory has been kept.

Selling them off, though, could save taxpayers between $3 billion and $8 billion a year, according to various analysts. That’s nothing to scoff at as the government grapples with a mounting debt and sequester-tied spending cuts.  …

Tom Schatz, of Citizens Against Government Waste said: “This is a problem that has been identified for years, and every time someone in the White House says ‘let’s sell property,’ the red tape is simply too much for this process.” …

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., notes that Congress is full of people who’ve never held private-sector jobs. “There is nothing wrong with that. But it means they have never really been in the position of running something, of making hard decisions, of having scarce resources and having to set priorities.”

It is both fiscally and environmentally irresponsible for the federal government to continue to add more lands and properties to the already bloated and widely unkempt federal estate, since we have the money for neither new acquisitions nor their maintenance. Here we are going berserk over $85 billion in sequester cuts, but we could save at least several billion every year merely by getting rid of the top-heavy regulations that make it an inexcusably major headache to shed excess properties.

The tens of thousands of properties noted above aren’t candidates for new monuments or anything, but it all comes down to the federal government being far too eager to assign public ownership to areas that would be better served by the private sector. A lot of these vacant properties have just been sitting idly and off the market for years, and as for monuments, Mary Katharine pointed out earlier this week that Mount Vernon is run by a private group that receives no federal funding; there are plenty of other historical sites and parks that could be doing the same thing, running at a profit and receiving the more careful stewardship that is part and parcel of private property.


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…Mooch can vacation there!

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Selling them off, though, could save taxpayers between $3 billion and $8 billion a year, according to various analysts. That’s nothing to scoff at as the government grapples with a mounting debt and sequester-tied spending cuts.

…then we can “invest” in green energy companies!

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., notes that Congress is full of people who’ve never held private-sector jobs. “There is nothing wrong with that. But it means they have never really been in the position of running something, of making hard decisions, of having scarce resources and having to set priorities

…they don’t have to run anything…they just have to pay the “bundlers” !

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Can’t sell them, where will the reeducation centers be set up?

Bishop on March 27, 2013 at 9:26 PM

In the meantime, DHS is constructing a BRAND NEW building, which will probably be named after Janet Napalitano.

GarandFan on March 27, 2013 at 9:27 PM

…can JugEars make Detroit a National Monument?

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Mary Katharine pointed out earlier this week that Mount Vernon is run by a private group that receives no federal funding

Yes but they’re a bunch of moonshiners now so the revenuers will be out to get them.

RickB on March 27, 2013 at 9:27 PM

…Mooch can vacation there!

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM

An abandoned prison or mental hospital would be ideal.

Aviator on March 27, 2013 at 9:28 PM

75% of it is Detroit.

ThePrez on March 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM

I repeat — we need to auction off federal lands to repay the debit.

Count to 10 on March 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM

I can see it coming now….the first federal city…Detroit.

BobMbx on March 27, 2013 at 9:30 PM

***************** Urban Decay Blight ********************!!

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Mary Katharine pointed out earlier this week that Mount Vernon is run by a private group that receives no federal funding

Said private group also requires UN permission to cut the grass. Don’t want to damage the World Heritage site, now do we?

BobMbx on March 27, 2013 at 9:31 PM

I take greater issue with the occupied federal properties than with the vacant ones.

Ala Pundit on March 27, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., notes that Congress is full of people who’ve never held private-sector jobs. “There is nothing wrong with that. But it means they have never really been in the position of running something, of making hard decisions, of having scarce resources and having to set priorities.”

This from a sh*thead who voted for Obamacare (with its medical devices tax plainly known) in one of American history’s most partisan legislative cramdowns, then decided to retire because of the partisanship, and still then turns around and begins lobbying for the repeal of the medical devices tax now that he’s at McGuire Woods.

What a phuckhead.

BuckeyeSam on March 27, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Awesome: Vacant federal properties cost taxpayers billions every year

Another winner for the GOP.

But all we hear from GOP is…

*criskets*

I’m starting to thing that the GOP is such a loser we might as well take our loss with a third party. At least it would be principled.

petefrt on March 27, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Vacant buildings are gay…

Seven Percent Solution on March 27, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Nice, the picture looks like a set from The Walking Dead.

gsherin on March 27, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Invite government officials to the building.

Burn them to the ground.

Problem solved.

tom daschle concerned on March 27, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Where would the drug runners and gangsters stash their assault rifles..
If not for these “vacant” buildings.

Electrongod on March 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Zee Interactive Map:

Cutting Costs by Getting Rid of Buildings We Don’t Need

This map visualizes a sampling of about 14,000 buildings and structures currently designated as excess.

These properties range from sheds to underutilized office buildings and empty warehouses.

Many of these assets will be disposed through demolition and transfers. Every excess asset taken off the books represents progress in the form of reduced operating and maintenance expenses, which cost the taxpayers almost $190 million a year.

Excess Federal Properties Interactive Map

The Federal Government is the biggest property owner in the United States, and billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year on government properties that are no longer needed. The President has proposed an independent Civilian Property Realignment Board to help the Federal Government cut through red tape and competing stakeholder interests to sell or get rid of property it no longer needs. Over time, this could save taxpayers billions of dollars and help to reduce the deficit.

This map shows just the tip of the iceberg in terms of opportunities for downsizing the Federal real estate portfolio. Under the President’s proposal, more properties, in some cases with significant market value, would be added to this map and dealt with more quickly and effectively than they are today.

President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the Campaign to Cut Waste to eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the Federal Government. Getting properties like those highlighted below off our books is a key first step in this effort.
=========

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/fiscal/excess-property-map

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Should the government sell them? Or, if they were taken away via eminent domain, should they be given back to the original owners?

cptacek on March 27, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Ruins.

Bmore on March 27, 2013 at 9:44 PM

I don’t know about that map. I has two sites identified as Dodge City, KS but they look 50 miles-ish away from each other. One of the dots by Topeka is identifed as someplace in California.

cptacek on March 27, 2013 at 9:46 PM

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Heh.

While it all sounds good, the problem with many of these properties is that they’ve been severely neglected to the point of being worth very little. Also, many have asbestos and lead paint and other things that aren’t a huge problem for normal people but causes bureaucracies to freeze in panic.

Also, somehow I feel like the federal government would manage to lose money selling properties, not make money.

Timin203 on March 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Vacant buildings are gay…

Seven Percent Solution on March 27, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Seven Percent Solution:0

A splash of paint,re-arrangement of furniture,
some rainbow coloured drapes,

and viola…….(sarc)

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:52 PM

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Faaaabb-ulous!!

Solaratov on March 27, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Bmore on March 27, 2013 at 9:44 PM

In the end, everyone agreed he was historic.

petefrt on March 27, 2013 at 9:56 PM

But all we hear from GOP is…

*crickets*

I’m starting to thing that the GOP is such a loser we might as well take our loss with a third party. At least it would be principled.

petefrt on March 27, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Yup. Too complicit in the spending orgies to call them out now, I suppose. Maggots.

The Tea Party candidates — the *real* ones — are the only sane and responsible members of our government.

Jaibones on March 27, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sell the properties off so that Congress can immediately turn around and spend the money on something else.

Aitch748 on March 27, 2013 at 10:01 PM

The photo shows a perfect building for Homeland Security: broken windows and scalable fences.

onlineanalyst on March 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Heh.

While it all sounds good, the problem with many of these properties is that they’ve been severely neglected to the point of being worth very little. Also, many have asbestos and lead paint and other things that aren’t a huge problem for normal people but causes bureaucracies to freeze in panic.

Also, somehow I feel like the federal government would manage to lose money selling properties, not make money.

Timin203 on March 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Timin203:

All good points,with red tape,and the Bureaucracy of
the whole thing,and Environmental Impact studies,its
a nightmarish mess!:)

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Also, somehow I feel like the federal government would manage to lose money selling properties, not make money.

Timin203 on March 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM

When the value of a real asset continues destined forever to deteriorate, you best sell it, especially when the income from it doesn’t cover the cost of carrying it. RE Investing 101.

But of course, that doesn’t apply to the fed sector, now does it.

petefrt on March 27, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., notes that Congress is full of people who’ve never held private-sector jobs. “There is nothing wrong with that. But it means they have never really been in the position of running something, of making hard decisions, of having scarce resources and having to set priorities.”

FU, when it comes to being a reliably dem pud, you were always on my mind.

arnold ziffel on March 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

…Mooch can vacation there!

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Looks a lot like the housing units she and Valerie Jarrett managed in Chicago.

Mimzey on March 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Also, somehow I feel like the federal government would manage to lose money selling properties, not make money.

Timin203 on March 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Stop paying the taxes on them and let the cities deal with them. Then offer to have them demolished with a minimum of red tape.

Cut the losses.

Mimzey on March 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM

arnold ziffel on March 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

He is a second generation moocher. His old man was a career politician who never had a real job in his life either.

Aviator on March 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Faaaabb-ulous!!

Solaratov on March 27, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Solaratov:Lol:)

canopfor on March 27, 2013 at 10:19 PM

It is not just the red tape that is preventing the sale it is the EPA and the environmental protections that make the government clean it up before they can be sold and the cost to clean it up is higher than the cost to let it sit there and decay.

The ground has to be cleaned of everything that was found to be cancer causing now that was normally used in the 50′s. From Asbestos, lead based paint to PCB. They have to check the floor tiles for both asbestos, uranium and lead based plastics as that has to be removed. The water pipes have to be checked on every joint for the right kind of solder and not lead based as every copper pipe has to be replaced. Asbestos fibers from the pipes removed to the part per billion of fibers in the air. All of it at the cost of the government and it could take years to clean just one old hospital. The price of the ground is not even close to being worth for housing it as in some cases it would just turn back into wilderness parkland.

Life After people and the walking dead like world in some government compounds.

tjexcite on March 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Looking in to PCB (wiki) that if there is a power transformer found in the building in California the building sits empty and there is nothing they can do for years. It is like worse than radioactive.

tjexcite on March 27, 2013 at 10:38 PM

Mooch is an understatement.
She should have been real proud of her country for her whole life because most countries

would have thrown her out on her fat arse.

losarkos on March 27, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Red Tape.

Top. Men.

Government Sucks.

See, it sings.

98ZJUSMC on March 28, 2013 at 12:06 AM

HEY ERIKA!

I’ve got a tip for you about getting more *fun* info on this matter:

Interview the folks responsible for this in the
Public Buildings Service of the
General Services Administration.

It was only about 10-15 years ago that they realized (upon Congressional inquiry…wink wink) it might be a good idea to develop an inventory of all the buildings they owned and rented.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA

Czar of Defenestration on March 28, 2013 at 6:09 AM

Its about CONTROL.

The more land is CONTROLLED by the feds, the better they think they are.

TX-96 on March 28, 2013 at 6:58 AM

Vacant federal properties cost taxpayers billions every year

Because only the King and his Lords may hunt on the King’s lands.

Gatsu on March 28, 2013 at 7:49 AM

Gosh, I thought that picture was of some Detroit mansion.

Don L on March 28, 2013 at 7:56 AM

No precise inventory has been kept.

And if you think that’s bad, think about the abuse of the EAJA fund since Clinton/Gore got that paperless act thing signed.
The Fed. has no clue on how much $$ it disperses through this fund to various Activist & Enviro groups.
There is a WY lawyer named Karen-Budd Falen has done quite a lot of research regarding this. I think she’s only scratched the tip of this monstrous waste.
Enviro groups are getting rich off of the Fed this way.
I was shocked when she presented her facts at our Stockman’s convention a few years back.

Badger40 on March 28, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Dear Dan Tangherlini,

What are you and the rest of GSA going to do about this situation???

Yiwen on March 28, 2013 at 8:47 AM

States do it too. We wanted to develop a vacant lot where bums camp and people dump stuff, but it’s unusable because of historic and environmental regulations. It’s in the “viewshed” of an “historic” bridge and some other historic buildings for one thing. It’s next to a dilapidated derelict state-owned building that is apparently OK by the state historic office, but developing the empty Obamaville lot would be an eyesore? And on top of that the garbage just scares the environmental compliance people. This leads to developing pristine properties and avoiding redeveloping old eyesore properties like this one.

So in the end, you have an Obamaville bum lot and an abandoned state-owned building falling apart and no new development and it’s all the doing of the state government. Sometimes I think we deserve to fail for allowing it to get to this point of complete insanity.

forest on March 28, 2013 at 8:56 AM

So, the government has created regulations so horrendous that they can’t sell their own vacant buildings?

BRILLIANT!

LoganSix on March 28, 2013 at 8:57 AM

As of last year, billions the Fed paid out in legal fees & lawsuits.
I’ll reserve my judgement regarding the Native American settlements.
But the rest? Read for yourself.
Tiny tip of the iceberg.

Sometimes I think we deserve to fail for allowing it to get to this point of complete insanity.

forest on March 28, 2013 at 8:56 AM

I agree. Just bcs something is’old’ does not mean it is historical & worth saving.
I’ve had people petition me to sign to save ‘old’ ‘historic’ building here in ND before. I always refuse.
If the building is worth saving, let the people who are concerned about it raise the $$ through private donations.
The state should only step in, at the behest of the people, IF it really is worth it. And even then I’m inclined to say no.

Badger40 on March 28, 2013 at 9:06 AM

This reminds me of the Forest Service’s purchase of T. Roosevelt’s ELkhorn ranch.
From the article:

Tweed Roosevelt, the former president’s great-grandson, said last month that he asked President Barack Obama to designate the area as a national monument, which would block development in the area.

This article is from July of 2012, so IDK if he got his wish. He might have.
This is disgusting. I am so sick & tired of all of the Teddy R. slobbering this fracking state does. It’s worse than the Lewis & Clark slobbering they do.
I understand it’s driven by attracting tourists. So this should be a state issue, not Federal anyway.
We have a good friend who ranches just south of the original site of the Elkhorn ranch.
This region south of Medora is much more beautiful & interesting than the T.R. National Park itself.
On his land alone are better things to see.
Yes, the oil industry has a huge presence there now. Our friend has a well like a 1/2 mile from his yard. He can see it. Not saying this is ideal, but he doesn’t own that land.
Just more & more Fed govt $$ wasted on silly $hit.

Badger40 on March 28, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Roosevelt quickly arranged to purchase a herd of cattle tended by Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield for $14,000 – significantly more than Roosevelt’s annual salary. The two surprised cowboys agreed to tend the cattle for Roosevelt when they were released from their existing contract. That winter, following Roosevelt’s request, Ferris and Merrifield constructed the Maltese Cross Cabin. Roosevelt probably did not see his investment in strictly monetary terms, but as a binding connection to the wide open spaces for which he had quickly become quite enamored. As biographer Edmund Morris noted, “Fourteen thousand dollars was a small price to pay for so much freedom.”

You read further through that article & you realize T.R. was the absentee landowner we current ranchers despise.
He was part of the problem in overstocking the range.
The horrible winter in the late 1880′s let to further destruction of the environment by the dead cattle everywhere.
T.R. lost his a$$ over this, & rightfully so.
The above bolded part is ironic to me from a Progressive.
He can purchase his freedom in land. And despoil it.
But woe to another citizen who does the same thing.
Progressives of any stripe are disgusting & their high & mighty ways & disgusting misuse of power is criminal.

Badger40 on March 28, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Badger40 on March 28, 2013 at 9:21 AM

We need a POTUS candidate who will take heed from those they have seen waste and abuse or lived with outrages.

Instead we seem to get the opposite.

If I ever took over, I would draft angry people with specific gripes and observations like yours.

I’ll take an angry cheapskate, anyday, over a lawyer/accountant or inspector general to root out bureaucratic problems.

IlikedAUH2O on March 28, 2013 at 9:58 AM

The entire GSA property-management organization needs to be let go and this function contracted via a bidding process on a state-by-state basis.

The GSA is an incompetent white elephant.

slickwillie2001 on March 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM