NORFOLK -- A dumpster filled with garbage sat outside 300 East Main Street Tuesday. Much of what was in it was office furniture and fixtures belonging to the military, paid for by taxpayers.
"This stuff was either missing a leg, wheels, or something. Something was deemed wrong with it that it would either cost the government too much money to replace it or repair it," said CWO3 Marvin D. Sams with the United States Coast Guard. The chief warrant officer works at Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center (SILC).
Sams told 13News the unit is completing a major overhaul of the office space which it has occupied since 1996. Many furnishings have been there the entire time.
Sams explained SILC had trucks take reusable materials to a Navy facility that houses items to be repurposed. Things in the dumpster were considered no longer usable.
"Tables, chairs, file cabinets, stuff like that that are either dented, destroyed, rusted, or causing damage to the property," said Sams.
Property Officer Susan Kreidler added, "I would guarantee you, if you went in there and went through that right now, you would not find anything that you could use."
The condition of the pieces was not entirely from wear-and-tear. Chairs, in particular, had large gashes put in them by Coast Guard members.
"If it was destroyed before it was put in there any further, that was to keep people from pilfering out of our dumpster," Sams told 13News. "People will take anything, sir. They take anything, and to keep our folks honest, anybody walking by the dumpster that might take government stuff and use it for personal use, we have to make sure that doesn't happen, so we take precautions to do that."
"If it was fiberboard and had broken drawers," said Kreidler, offering an example, "what we would do, then, we would smash that, because somebody would come and take that out of the dumpster, and we have a liability issue."
United States General Services Administration oversees reuse and sale of personal property. Typically, the preference is that federal agencies pass along property to other federal agencies for use. State and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations, often can get surplus equipment. USGSA also handles auctions of which the general public may take part.
Sams said several people were part of the process determining what still had life in it and what did not. Kreidler adds and metal or wood that could be recycled was stripped from furnishings.