SC DHHS saved $10 million by renegotiating the lease on this building in Columbia.
By Robert Kittle
Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered all state agencies to do an inventory of their property and get it to her by Dec. 15th. She's been asking for the list for two-and-a-half years and, when she still didn't get it, signed an executive order Monday requiring it.
"I think what we need to do is realize that if you've got that much inventory that we can't keep track of, that's too much inventory for the state of South Carolina to own," she told 7 On Your Side Tuesday.
The order applies to all state agencies, including state colleges and universities. Agencies within her cabinet will also be required to find savings.
"We need to know what these buildings are, why you're using them, what the square footage is, how many employees you have in them, whether you are leasing property, whether you are in owned property," she says. "And guess what? We're going to start streamlining and cleaning house."
So how can the state not know what it owns? Marcia Adams, executive director of the state Budget and Control Board, which oversees state property, says, "The issue has been working together with all the agencies coming together. One entity, like the Budget and Control Board, cannot track and maintain all of that information, certainly without the agencies' help."
The Budget and Control Board does have an inventory of state property. It's 420 pages long. What's been impossible to keep track of, though, is how the buildings are being used, how many employees there are, and details about office space that's being leased.
Some state agencies have already streamlined and found savings for taxpayers. The state Department of Revenue moved all its employees into one building last year, which will save $4 million over the 10 years of the lease.
The state Department of Health and Human Services had employees in two buildings that were next to each other. When the leases were up for renewal in June, the agency moved the 50 employees that were in the smaller building into the larger building next door. Getting rid of the lease entirely on the smaller building will save about $450,000 a year. The agency also renegotiated the lease on the larger building for a savings of $1 million a year for the 10 years of the lease.
"We know we're not the only agency needing state funds, and any money we save over here can get directed toward other health agencies or even broader state needs," says Bryan Kost, deputy chief of staff for the agency.