By the Numbers: $3.5 Billion

The Federal Government is the largest property owner in the United States. But some 14,000 of its properties sit unused and unneeded, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year in operating and maintenance expenses. To cut down on this wasteful and inefficient spending, the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to reduce this stock of unused property and is on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2012.


President Obama is committed to cutting wasteful and inefficient Federal spending. Today, he signed an Executive Order asking Federal agencies to cut their spending on travel, printing, and IT by 20 percent. Earlier this year, he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste with Vice President Joe Biden to eliminate government waste, save taxpayer dollars, and make government work better.

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.

Featured Properties

GSA Brooklyn Warehouse

Size: 1,000,000 square feet

Sale Price: $10,000,000

The General Services Administration sold a 1 million square foot warehouse and parking lot sitting empty on six acres of land. The Navy had used this property for a Fleet supply base beginning in 1919 until after WWII. Several agencies called it home over the years, but this facility had been sitting empty for over 10 years since 2000, costing the federal government hundreds of thousands of dollars in upkeep. GSA was able to bring the property to a negotiated sale this year, which resulted in about $10,000,000 in proceeds for the Federal Government.

GSA Georgetown West Heat Plant

Size: 93,000 square feet on 2 acres

Potential Savings if Disposed: $3.5 million over 10 years

It has been ten years since the West Heating Plant in Washington, DC, has played a role in the boiler and pipe network that heats many government buildings. The General Services Administration had retained the plant in reserve for emergencies, but has determined it is truly unneeded as a backup or for any other purpose. Getting it off the books eliminates maintenance costs – which totaled up to $3.5 million over the last decade – and ensures the property will be put to a more productive use. In all cases, Rock Creek Park and the C & O Canal, which sit adjacent to the property, will remain protected and open to the public.

Excess Federal Properties Interactive Map

Of all the terms used in this map that deserve a full definition, most important is what is the definition of an “excess property”?

Excess properties can be any number of things: from office buildings to laboratories to storage sheds and warehouses. Excess property is property that an agency has identified as no longer needed for mission or program performance. When a building is “excess” it means that it can be offered to other Federal agencies. Even buildings that once served a humanitarian purpose, like family housing or schools, may be long-abandoned or out of use. When no need is found by a fellow Federal agency for the property, it then becomes “surplus.” Surplus property is what is typically sold or disposed outside of the Federal Government.

Looking at the map, one may notice that some of the properties are inside of a national park, forest or otherwise protected natural resource. The identification of excess assets on park land or land identified as a preservation district does not mean that the Administration will be selling our natural treasures; we are trying to maintain our national parks and forests in a way that is more efficient and reduces the expense for the American people without affecting the commitment to the safeguarding of our public lands.

Properties whose location is sensitive, such as Department of Defense installations, are not represented on this map, but will go through the same review process.

Here are the different real property uses associated with these three categories, as defined by the GSA:

Real Property Use



Land under cultivation for food or fiber production.

All Other

Properties that cannot be classified elsewhere.

Communications Systems

Telephone and telegraph lines, data cables, radio towers, and other communications-related properties

Dormitories / Barracks

Buildings primarily used for housing individuals (without families/dependents).

Family Housing

Buildings primarily used as housing for families/dependents. Includes apartment houses, single houses, row houses, public housing, military personnel housing, Federal employee housing, and housing for institutional personnel.

Flood Control and Navigation

Land used for flood control and navigation projects

Harbors and Ports

Docks, piers, wharves, jetties and breakwaters, and other harbor, port, or coastal facilities.


Buildings used primarily for furnishing in-patient diagnosis and treatment under physician supervision and having 24-hour-a-day registered graduate nursing services. This category also includes medical laboratories used for routine testing. This category excludes buildings used directly in basic or applied medical research.


Buildings specifically designed and primarily used for production or manufacturing, such as the production or manufacture of ammunition, aircraft, ships, vehicles, electronic equipment, fish production, chemicals, aluminum, and magnesium. Included are buildings that house utility plants or utility system components such as pump stations or valves.

Industrial (other than buildings)

Structures and facilities (other than buildings) used for production or manufacturing, such as sliding shipways, retaining basins, and pipelines.


Land used for institutional purposes such as hospitals, prisons, schools, libraries, chapels, and museums.


Buildings used directly in basic or applied research in the sciences (including medicine) and in engineering, such as medical laboratories; meteorological research laboratories; and buildings used in designing, developing, and testing of prototypes and processes for chemistry and physics. This category excludes medical or industrial laboratories used for routine testing.

Monuments and Memorials

Federal monuments, memorials, and statues.


Buildings used for the housing and/or display of tangible objects or collections for the purpose of displaying said objects or collections for public view and benefit on a regular basis.

Navigation and Traffic Aids

Includes buildings that house aircraft or ship navigation and traffic aids, such as beacon lights, antenna systems, ground control approach systems, and obstruction lighting.


Buildings primarily used for office space or military headquarters.

Office Building Locations

Land containing office buildings or future planned office buildings, to include military headquarters buildings.

Other Institutional Uses

Buildings used for institutional purposes other than schools, hospitals, and prisons, such as libraries, chapels, and out-patient clinics. This category also includes food preparation and dining facilities, buildings housing entertainment and recreational activities, and visitor’s centers.

Parking Structures

Independent structures for non-residential parking of more than two vehicles.

Power Development and Distribution

Land used for power development and distribution projects.


Tracks, bridges, tunnels, and fuel or water stations servicing railroads.

Reclamation and Irrigation

Land used for reclamation and irrigation projects.

Recreational (other than buildings)

Outdoor recreational structures such as athletic fields and courts, stadiums, golf courses, and ski slopes.

Research and Development

Land used directly in basic or applied research, such as science, medicine, and engineering

Research and Development (other than Laboratories)

Structures and facilities used directly in basic or applied research in science, medicine, and engineering, such as facilities used in the design, development, and testing of prototypes and processes and space and aeronautics research and development. Excludes facilities used for routine testing.

Roads and Bridges

Federally-owned highways, roads, related culverts, and connecting bridges. Includes surfaced and unsurfaced roads within National parks and forests, military installations, and other Federal installations.


Buildings used primarily for formally organized instruction, such as schools for dependent children of Federal employees, Indian schools, and military training buildings including specialized training facilities.


Buildings used for service activities, such as maintenance and repair shops, dry cleaning plants, post exchange stores, airport hangars, and buildings primarily used for vehicle maintenance and repair.

Service (other than buildings)

Structures used for maintenance and repair, such as underground fueling systems, vehicle washing and greasing facilities, aircraft bore sight ranges, guided missile maintenance facilities, and ship repair structures.


Land used primarily for supply depots and other storage.

Storage (other than buildings)

Storage tanks, silos, igloos, underground vaults, and open storage improved areas. This category includes water reservoirs and POL storage tanks.

Utility Systems

Heating, sewage, water, and electrical systems that serve several buildings or other structures of an installation. Includes heating plants and related steam and gas lines, sewage disposal plants, storm and sanitary sewer lines, water treatment plants, wells, pump houses, reservoirs, and pipelines. Also includes electrical substations, standby or auxiliary power plants, lighting structures, and conduits.


Land not being used.


Buildings used for storage, such as ammunition storage, covered sheds, and buildings primarily used for storage of vehicles or materials. Also included are underground or earth covered ammunition storage bunkers and magazines. This category excludes water reservoirs and POL storage tanks which are storage structures.

Weapons Ranges

Ranges where weapons are fired and areas where explosives are detonated.
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