Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

Virginia Senate Passes Land Inventory Bill

Anthony Randazzo
February 7, 2011, 9:00am

On Friday, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill that would re-establish an inventory of all real property in the commonwealth. Gov. McDonnell has already ordered the Department of General Services (DGS) to begin a comprehensive inventory of all Old Dominion real property. However, this bill goes an important step further in requiring the inventory be annually updated. Highlights of the bill (that still has to be considered in the Virginia General Assembly):

I testified before a Virginia Senate Finance Committee meeting last week when the bill was under discussion, supporting the idea of a real property inventory as an important tool for policymakers, whether or not passed in this bill. As I wrote in a paper with John Palatiello on this subject last year, any initiative to develop an adequate portfolio management system for publicly owned real estate should be given serious consideration. And the fact that the commonwealth of Virginia is sorely lacking in knowing what it owns, particularly relative to other states, is all the more reason that the inventory be established sooner rather than later.

A comprehensive list of land and assets, up-to-date with their current use, would allow Virginia to assess whether public property is being used and maintained in the most efficient manner possible. Whether finding ways to consolidate workspaces, putting land to better use, or uncovering excessive and unnecessary maintenance costs, real property inventories are an important tool for state policymakers to make good management decisions with that is currently not available in the Commonwealth. A well managed, regularly updated inventory can also help save the state money by identifying properties that can be sold, collecting up front cash and expanding the tax base by letting the private sector develop and use the land and assets that the Commonwealth no longer needs.

What is next? If the bill passes the General Assembly then it will be up to the Department of General Services to develop the inventory. In the previously mentioned paper, "Knowing What State and Local Governments Own," we offer twelve recommendations for policymakers looking to be better stewards with public resources. Virginia has already heeded the first recommendation (Take the initiative to build an inventory) and hopefully will follow through on full passage. The bill also follows recommendation number 4 (Centralize the management of real property data) and number 8 (Make the inventory continual and dynamic). The next several steps will need to be pursued by DGS: 

Read the full paper breaking down these ideas here.

Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research

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