Knowing What State and Local Governments Own

A how-to guide for managing state and local property inventories

How much land does your state or local government own?

It seems like a basic question that would have a simple answer, but many states and counties do not have the kind of basic property and asset data that a well-run business or responsible family relies on to manage its finances. Only 16 of the states have well-functioning systems for tracking what they own. And while 17 others states are developing some type of inventory system, another 17 states (plus Washington D.C.) are sorely lacking in this area.

Very basic steps like using geographic information system (GIS) imaging to map all state property or requiring all state agencies to use uniform methods when reporting the status of their real property have not been pursued by most governments. These kinds of initiatives would greatly aid establishing a real property inventory that could assist government officials in saving money, cutting waste, managing facility operations better, meeting compliance standards and being better stewards of public property.

With millions of acres and thousands of assets in government portfolios, officials should take steps to identify what they own, determine whether government or private ownership is most effective for that asset, and streamline the efficient transfer of all unneeded real property.


Anthony Randazzo

Anthony Randazzo is director of economic research for Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. His research portfolio is regularly evolving, and he maintains a wide interest in economic policy at both a domestic and international level.

Randazzo is also managing director of the Pension Integrity Project, which provides technical assistance to public sector retirement system stakeholders who are seeking to prevent pension plan insolvency. His research focus on the national public sector pension crisis has a dual focus of identifying the systemic factors that cause public officials to underfund pension obligations as well as studying the processes by which meaningful pension reform can be accomplished. Within the Project he leads the analytics team that develops independent, third party actuarial analysis to stakeholders considering changes to public sector retirement systems.

In addition, Randazzo writes about the moral foundations of economic theory, and is currently developing research on the ways that the moral intuitions of economists influence their substantive findings on topics like income inequality, immigration, or labor policy.

Randazzo's work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Barron's, Bloomberg View, The Washington Times, The Detroit News, Chicago Sun-Times, Orange-County Register, RealClearMarkets, Reason magazine and various other online and print publications.

During his tenure at Reason he has published substantive research on housing finance, financial services regulation, and various other aspects of economic policy at the federal level. And he has written regularly on labor economics, tax policy, privatization, and Turkish-U.S. political and economic issues.

Randazzo has also testified before numerous state and local legislative bodies on pension policy matters, as well as before the House Financial Services Committee on topics related to housing policy and government-sponsored enterprises.

He holds a multidisciplinary M.A. in behavioral political economy from New York University.

Follow Anthony Randazzo on Twitter @anthonyrandazzo