State Unsure How Much Land It Owns

As members of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) commission on government reform and restructuring looked for ways to save the state money, one early option was selling surplus property.

The Commonwealth surely has buildings, parking lots and event undeveloped property that isn’t being used effectively, members thought.

There’s one small problem.

No one — not the governor, not the legislature and not the state’s Department of General Services — maintains a complete list of Virginia’s real property assets.

Richard Sliwoski, the director of DGS, told me the state owns 13, 548 buildings, valued at $24.6 billion. Those numbers come from data required by Virginia’s insurance carrier, so officials are confident that they’re accurate.

The question mark is how much undeveloped property the state owns. No one seems to know.

State agencies were supposed to complete land use plans that tally up each department’s property assets. In many cases, those reports haven’t been written in years. The ones that have never made it to DGS.

Sliwoski says his agency is committed to tracking down accurate numbers for how much property the state owns, where it is and how much it’s worth.

“It is the taxpayers’ property,” he said. “They’ve entrusted it to us. They should know that we know what we have and we’re maximizing the use for it.”

The governor’s office has ordered all state agencies to submit the information to DGS by late summer.

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