Florida is having trouble finding most of its 18,000 government-owned buildings.
In January, the Department of Management Services (DMS) was commissioned to make a property inventory, but earlier this month, DMS Secretary Linda South said to a legislative committee that it still doesn’t know where approximately 17,900 buildings are, what they are worth, what they are used for or if they still exist.
According to the Palm Beach Post, South could only account for the 115 facilities DMS directly manages and maintains.
South discovered that the General Services Administration, which manages all civilian federal buildings, had no comprehensive list of state-owned buildings, and she wants to hire an outside company to do the job, according to CBS-4 in South Florida.
Losing track of thousands of buildings is beyond incompetent, but Florida should not dig itself deeper by wasting money on outsourcing work that could be done within the agency.
Last month, South began negotiating a contract with private companies to provide her department with “a single, comprehensive and descriptive inventory of real property owned by the State of Florida to improve real property decision making with accurate and reliable real property data,” according to the Post.
J.D. Alexander, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, commissioned the DMS to compile the inventory to see if any properties could be sold or consolidated. He still believes South could have done the work herself.
“It clearly speaks to some fundamental weaknesses in our administration of those issues,” Alexander said to the Post. “I would have preferred them to go inside, but we weren’t consulted on their decisions and I don’t fully understand their rationale.”
South said to the committee: “We do not have the knowledge base, the expertise in-house to understand what those (property) values are. We need to ask the commercial real estate sector to tell us how we can get that done.”
DMS has more than 500 employees. This should have been a top priority, and it’s had almost a year to work on the inventory. Florida should not waste taxpayer money looking for taxpayer-funded buildings.
DMS is not entirely to blame. The fact that the Florida government didn’t bother to keep track of the thousands of facilities it was building and apparently never needed a comprehensive inventory demonstrates a bizarre level of incompetence.
Because of incidents like this, it is no wonder that Florida was named the strangest state in the U.S., according to an analysis of 2,000 Associated Press “strange news” stories by tableseed.com.
If the Florida government wants to help shed this title, state departments need to do a better job of handling their messes on their own.