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Surplus Property Program Saves Schools $50,000

April 2, 2013
The Southeast Bulloch High School Marching Band practices for grand championships.

In July 2011, the Southeast Bulloch High School Marching Band hit on an affordable answer to a pricey problem. To reach the next level of success, the award-winning musicians needed new instruments.

Over the course of the year, the band, called The Swarm, and its companion Southeast Bulloch Middle School Band raised $3,400 to purchase more than 30 former military instruments from the Georgia Department of Administrative Services' Surplus Property Program.

Focused on saving taxpayer dollars and reducing waste, the Surplus Property Program centralizes and makes more efficient the redistribution and disposal of government property. The idea is simple: take the surplus property one government entity doesn’t want or need anymore and resell it to state agencies, local governments and eligible non-profits. By leveraging online platforms such as eBay, GovDeals, Public Surplus, and Red Top Auto Auction, the program redistributes goods at rock-bottom cost.

While Southeast Bulloch High and Southeast Bulloch Middle purchased instruments of varying conditions, the fair market value of each far exceeded the average pay out of $100 per instrument. Both school bands enjoyed a steep discount: The federal government originally purchased the 30-odd instruments for more than $53,000.

“What is beyond measuring in dollars is that during the 2011 marching and competition season, The Swarm went on to win three Grand Championships, often competing against larger, better financed bands,” said Charles Howell, the high school’s 2011 Band Booster Club President. “Practice and musical skill are critical factors, but having a quality instrument matters as well. Thanks to DOAS, The Swarm was able to get professional grade instruments that would have normally been out of reach.”

To find office furniture, vehicles and other surplus property, review online public auctions and follow Twitter updates. Government representatives can also sign up for the Georgia Surplus newsletter.