Did you know that the Federal Government owns or leases between 55,000 and 77,000 vacant properties? The really insane part to this problem is that the government leases office space for various government agencies instead of using some of the vacant properties to house the agencies.
It has been estimated that by selling off these properties or consolidating agencies into these vacant properties could save taxpayers between $3 to $8 billion per year. Another absurd aspect to this situation is that it is impossible to know exactly how many vacant properties the government owns or leases because proper record keeping has not been a priority at the U.S. General Services Administration’s offices, th e agency charged with keeping an account of government-owned real estate. Now that’s a real shocker, right? Another government agency not doing its job ensuring that taxpayer money is being spent in a fiscally responsible manner, shocker (sarcasm).
According to a recent news release by Fox News, a prime example of how slowly the federal government moves is a piece of prime real estate in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood - an old steam-generating plant with a spectacular view of the Potomac waterfront.
The government-owned building was finally sold to a private developer for $19.5 million this month. But it sat there for 10 years - off the market and vacant - while taxpayers footed the bill for its upkeep.
A for-sale sign only went up the day before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform dragged General Services Administration officials into the musty structure for a hearing last summer. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., berated a bewildered GSA official at that hearing, saying: “You can’t get your job done! I don’t care if it’s a Republican or Democratic administration, the job is not getting done!”
Here’s the simple truth of the matter, politics aside. That $3 to $8 billion could have kept White House tours operating or helped military personnel and their families that are being impacted by sequestration. Our government must stop flushing taxpayer money down the drain; only then will we see real change.