News | June 5, 2020

Excess property donation fills state needs

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

State Agencies for Surplus Property constitute a significant portion of the Defense Logistics Agency’s excess property customers.

The nation’s post-WWII divvying up of excess war materials initially saw equipment offered to veterans for starting farms and small businesses and donations to various states education departments. As clear inequities in the amount of taxpayer-purchased items each state was receiving became evident, the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property was born, access became more accessible to the states further from major military bases, and donation authorization was also extended to health organizations.

Fast forward through the decades, and one will find that the list of organization types that can become qualified to receive excess military property through their state via General Services Administration and DLA Disposition Services surplus has grown significantly.

DLA Disposition Services recently reached out to select state surplus offices for feedback on the value of excess military property to their state’s citizens. One respondent was South Dakota Federal Property Agency Director Kaelene Borkowski, who shared the following insights:

How would you describe DLA’s military excess property support to South Dakota?

DLA’S military excess property program at the donation level has been a very valuable program for local and state programs across the state of South Dakota for decades. It has helped many small communities to meet their needs at an affordable cost and savings to the taxpayers. For instance: a small town with a very limited budget acquiring a front-end loader at a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing it new and at a notable savings over buying used on the open market.

During the pandemic this program had already acquired a number of items that quickly became high-demand, hard-to-find items. Our counties, cities, hospitals, and Department of Health are a few of the programs that quickly grabbed onto those items and asked for more. These included, but were not limited to: hand sanitizer, chemical and other protective clothing, masks, gloves, thermometers, pillows, ancillary kits, and even four medical shelter tents.

Does it benefit your state to have access to essentially all of the releasable military property that goes on record with DLA?

It does benefit the state of South Dakota to have access to this property. As mentioned in the above statement, our small local communities and eligible non-profit organizations not only save budget dollars, but also are able to acquire some items that are not otherwise readily available. An example that comes to mind is the large military Oshkosh snowblowers that we have been able to provide to the Department of Transportation. They currently have several that are used across the state and still have a need for additional units to get the job done during the major snowstorms we’ve been experiencing.

A portable tent
A former Army Medical Department Shelter Tent - one of four recently issued to South Dakota counties and the state's Department of Health through its surplus property agency.
A portable tent
200605-D-D0441-1236
A former Army Medical Department Shelter Tent - one of four recently issued to South Dakota counties and the state's Department of Health through its surplus property agency.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 200605-D-D0441-1236

Do you get feedback from the recipients in your state on the value or condition of the excess military property you receive? How would you describe feedback generally?

Generally, the feedback from our recipients are positive. State, county, municipal, and school officials at all levels and various departments; day care providers; hospital officials; Boy Scouts leaders and the list goes on. The people that check in regularly to see what is available or let us know of their current needs are typically grateful for the opportunity to access the variety of items available and save their program’s money at the same time. When a recipient does have an issue with an item, we work with them to solve the issue or ultimately allow returns when that cannot happen. Items must be placed into use and continued in use for specific time periods depending on the item.

Anything else you think people would be interested in knowing about the impact of military surplus property and its impact on South Dakota?

Just that it makes sense that this equipment and other personal property items, originally paid for by taxpayers, should go back to help their communities when the federal government no longer needs it. When we use our resources to build local communities, everyone wins.

The National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property publishes a quarterly newsletter containing success stories from any of the states that have stories they would like to “brag” on. Those newsletters can be found at www.nasasp.org.