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Government seeks to sell off 14,000 unused buildings

A picture from a White House presentation showing a building in Brooklyn owned by the U.S. government that the White House wants to sell.
White House
A picture from a White House presentation showing a building in Brooklyn owned by the U.S. government that the White Housewants to sell.
White House

If you're in the market for an office building in Brooklyn or Ft. Worth or scores of other locations throughout the United States, check with Uncle Sam before you buy. The federal government is looking to unload some 14,000 buildings it owns but isn't using.

It costs the government a fortune to maintain the empty or under-utilized buildings, so at this time of trillion dollar deficits, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) thinks it makes good sense to put them on the market.

OMB estimates the government could rake in $15 billion over three years from the sale of the buildings.

But it will need Congressional approval to navigate what Deputy Budget Director Jeff Zients describes as a very slow and painful process. That process is laden with red tape and political factors that make it difficult for the government to identify and sell the buildings.

A government building that presumably will not be on the block.
Getty Images

The White House wants to establish an Independent Board to recommend which buildings to sell and when. The panel would be based on the Commission that decides which military bases should be closed.

The panel will send its recommendations to Congress which would approve or reject the building sale proposals with an up-or-down vote.

If the plan works, says Zients, the government is sitting on another 55,000 buildings it really doesn't need and could put on the market as well. Some government buildings are already being sold by electronic auction on the Internet.

Some days, the White House might feel inclined to sell the House and Senate chambers too. But the Capitol building is probably safe.

A map from a White House presentation showing where the U.S.-owned buildings they want to sell are located.
White House
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.