Federal Surplus Property FAQ's


What is federal surplus property?

It is property belonging to the federal government that is surplus to all federal needs. The General Services Administration, through the Defense Property Disposal Agency, makes federal surplus property available to states from military installations, federal agencies, government contractors, etc.

By what authority does the Federal Surplus Property Program operate?

The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended by Public Law 94-519, authorizes the administrator of the program to allocate federal surplus property to designated state agencies, which in turn distribute the property to eligible donees.

May an individual purchase or use federal surplus property?

No. Federal surplus property cannot be acquired for personal use or gain.

Who is eligible to acquire federal surplus property?

Tax supported public agencies and nonprofit, tax-exempt educational or public health institutions or organizations, including:

  • Health institutions - licensed entities which administer health services to patients or related facilities such as medical institutions, hospitals, clinics, health centers, laboratories and nursing homes licensed by DHHS.

  • Education institutions - accredited or approved schools, colleges, universities, schools for the mentally handicapped or physically handicapped, child care centers licensed by DHHS, educational radio or educational TV stations, public museums and libraries.

  • Governmental agencies – that carryout or promote for the residents of a given political area one or more public purposes, such as conservation, economic development, education, parks and recreation, public health and public safety.

  • Other organizations – such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Red Cross, junior and senior ROTC units, and Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. 

What is the procedure for establishing eligibility?

Applications for eligibility must be made to the State Agency for Federal Surplus Property.

Evidence of civil rights compliance tax support or non-profit and tax exemption status official state approval, accreditation or license to operate and a description of the services rendered must accompany the application.

Is there a guarantee on federal surplus property?

No, property is issued on an "as is" basis.

What kinds of property are available?

Property available includes items such as hand tools; machine tools; furniture; motor vehicles; communication and electronic equipment; construction equipment; medical equipment and supplies; aircraft; small boats; hardware; office machines, furniture and supplies; textiles and many other items.

If this is a donation program, why must there be a service charge?

There are no appropriated tax funds to operate this agency. The money is used only in the operation of the agency and for no other purpose.

How are the service charges determined?

Service charges are based upon condition of property, expenses involved in acquiring and transporting, utilization potential and original cost to the government. Service charges will be fair and equitable in relation to the services rendered and the direct and indirect cost of operating the agency.

How are service charges collected?

The eligible institution is billed at the end of each month. Remittance must be by institution check only.

How may an eligible institution best take advantage of available property?

Participants make regular or frequent visits to the federal surplus property office, or make known their need and desire by written request to the state agency.

Is there a catalog, which lists property available in the distribution center?

No, the agency publishes a website describing available property. We also have a "want list" for special interest property.

Are there any restrictions on the use of federal surplus property?

Yes, the recipient must agree to the following restrictions:

  • Selections must be useable and needed.

  • Property must be put into use within

  • 12 months after it is received and

  • utilized for a period of 12 months; or

  • There is a utilization period of 18 months on all property with a Government cost of $5,000.00 and over and all passenger motor vehicles regardless of Government cost. Restrictions on all aircraft and vessels will be according to the terms and conditions within the conditional transfer document for vessels and aircraft.

May federal surplus property be dissembled for parts or be used for other than its intended use?

Yes, the recipient can obtain authorization for secondary utilization or cannibalization from the state agency.

How does the state agency enforce compliance with the terms of the transfer?

The agency conducts utilization checks on all 18- month and five-year restricted property during that period and conducts random utilization checks on selected items with a one-year restriction.