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Federal government rents space but does not use it

Taxpayers are footing more than $83 million a year in rent for federal agencies in Texas that use less than half of the space they pay for.

This expenditure of many millions of dollars for empty space here and across the country is brought to you by the General Services Administration. You might remember them best as the hosts of the $800,000 mind-reading, Barolo-braised, commemorative medal-awarding conference in Las Vegas that prompted director Martha Johnson to resign.

Washington Examiner data editor Jennifer Peebles, former investigative reporter and editor with Texas Watchdog, today captures in loving detail this latest expression of the GSA’s strategic goal “to use data, evidence, and analysis to support decisions that wring out inefficiencies in operations.”

The GSA’s Public Buildings Service has under management at least 2,000 properties nationwide that are less than 10 percent occupied at a total annual rent of $600 million, 167 of those with a combined rent of $27.7 million in Texas, the Examiner study showed.

Taxpayers are paying $13 million a year for 189 rentals across the country that are less than 1 percent occupied, including an unoccupied 24,000 square-foot space in Fort Lauderdale at $1 million a year. Texas has 11 of these properties toting up more than $430,000 a year in rent.

In all, taxpayers pay $250 million a year in rent for 545 properties in Texas, 292 or almost 54 percent of them less than half occupied at the more than $83 million cost, the Examiner study showed. Sixteen of those half-full properties have rents of $1 million or more a year.

Of that total, 247 properties at a total annual rent of $61.7 million are less than a quarter occupied, 167 of them under 10 percent    

(viewable in map below)     and 103 of them less than 5 percent occupied.


(View a list or a searchable database of all properties in Texas.)


Crown jewel among the under-occupied is the swankriffic Fountain Place in Dallas where the Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 staff has its offices. According to the GSA, taxpayers pay $4.8 million a year in rent for the federal government to use 24 percent of the space.

At shimmering 919 Milam St. in Houston the U.S. Attorney’s office reports a 21 percent occupancy at a $3.3 million annual rent. This might be because at least some of the U.S. Attorney’s office staff has already moved to Wells Fargo Plaza.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration have offices in the prime downtown office building at 1301 Young St. in Dallas. The rent, $2.3 million a year, also covers 81.4 percent of unused office space.

And in the hope of setting an example, the General Services Administration itself has a space less than 1 percent occupied at 333 Clay St. in Houston, a rental steal at $322,100 a year.

Reprint from Texas Watch Dog .com

Categories: Uncategorized
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