This paper was written in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and with support from the Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Summary: Given the current fiscal crises and budget constraints with which governments must operate, valuable public land and building assets must work at full capacity to fulfill governing objectives. Excess land and buildings should return to the private market to create economic, social, and/or environmental benefits. Governments at all levels face this administrative challenge. Even the federal government with dedicated property management agencies and full-time specialists acknowledges its own difficulties to enact a comprehensive and cohesive strategy to shed surplus property. The Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government of Kentucky (“Metro”) is similarly grappling with how best to repurpose and/or redevelop surplus land and building assets and other real property for which it is a steward, such as industrial brownfield sites. Currently, Metro holds roughly $8.56 million worth of assets deemed surplus. The city government has advanced on a number of critical factors to unlock the value of these assets and to engage cross-sector parties to find best end-use solutions for these holdings. However, there remain opportunities to improve the overall real property management and repurposing process. This study examines how a city government can employ a data-driven and Open Government method to manage a real property portfolio. A broader objective is to suggest a structured approach for how governments might strategically leverage data and associated transparency to accomplish policy and governance goals.