Federal Surplus Property Program

The Federal Surplus Property Program makes available federal property that is no longer needed by the government, such as medical equipment, vehicles, and office furniture for a nominal service charge.

The Federal Surplus Property Program acquires equipment such as vehicles and heavy equipment, office supplies, furniture, boats, and aircraft from the federal government for donation to a list of eligible non-federal organizations. The organization can then repurpose this property to meet its needs at no charge to taxpayers. Eligible organizations include local governments, state and university agencies, school districts and public schools, hospitals, health care clinics, drug abuse treatment centers, child care and educational radio and television stations, museums, and libraries.

The current surplus would not be possible without a cooperative economy and prudent policy changes in budgeting. Assuming economic growth continues at its current pace, the CBO projects that federal receipts will rise by nearly $4 trillion in a decade, more than enough to cover a huge increase in spending on entitlement programs and defense and produce an overall budget surplus of $3 trillion.

The surplus would not have materialized if the warring branches of Congress had continued to pursue policies that pushed deficits out of control. Fortunately, the 1990s saw a shift from GRH to Budget Enforcement Act (BEA), which places a greater emphasis on the balance between revenue and spending than on the size of the surplus. This law, however, cannot ensure that surpluses will continue. A change in economic conditions or in policy mistakes could easily derail the projected budget path and lead to a return of deficits.

What Defines Surplus Property
Federal Surplus Property Program 1

What Defines Surplus Property?

Property that is no longer needed for the agency’s use must be declared surplus. It then becomes available to the public through a process that includes a 60-day notice of availability and good-faith negotiations with local entities and housing sponsors.

Several factors are considered in determining whether land is surplus, such as the ability to separate the land from the existing improvements and its highest and best use. This highest and best use is determined based on a number of criteria, including the land-to-building ratio, the type of land, and its location within the city or village. For example, a commercial property may have excess land because of the nature of its business (distribution warehouses require extra land for loading and unloading trucks).

Nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations that provide food or shelter for homeless people are eligible to receive surplus property through donation. This includes soup kitchens, food banks, homeless shelters, and half-way houses. The program also offers office equipment, vehicles, furniture, and kitchen equipment to municipal emergency services and schools.

The Department of Defense is authorized by law to donate surplus personal property to educational activities that are of special interest to the armed forces. The General Services Administration administers the program and covers items such as computers, software, vehicles, and equipment. The program is covered by federal nondiscrimination laws, and it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or age.

How to Buy US Government Surplus
Federal Surplus Property Program 2

How to Buy US Government Surplus?

State and local government entities are prioritized over other program participants. Next, it is made available to qualifying not-for-profit organizations whose primary activities are educational and/or public health and are exempt from taxation under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, such as hospitals, health centers, clinics, child care centers, and educational radio and television stations. Finally, certain small, disadvantaged businesses enrolled in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program are also eligible to receive surplus property and equipment under the program.

If an eligibility application is approved for this program, you can access surplus items through the GSA auction website, GSAXcess. You can search for surplus equipment and other items online, then use the site’s ‘want list’ feature to save items of interest. The inventory is constantly changing, so be sure to check back frequently. Local governments and qualifying not-for-profit organizations can view available surplus at our central warehouse Mondays through Fridays, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

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