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New Report Highlights City Of Phila. Waste In Office Space Management

(At City Hall, Mayor Nutter receives the report on city office space.  At left are city public property commissioner Bridget Collins-Greenwald and Tom Knox, who headed the task force.  Credit: Mike Dunn)

(At City Hall, Mayor Nutter receives the report on city office space. At left are city public property commissioner Bridget Collins-Greenwald and Tom Knox, who headed the task force. Credit: Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A task force chaired by Philadelphia businessman and former mayoral candidate Tom Knox says City Hall could save tens of millions of dollars a year  by better managing its office space.

Knox says the problems with how Philadelphia government uses office space are many and varied.

“In some cases we have too much space because we haven’t designed it out appropriately,” Knox said today.  “A lot of times we’re using space where we’re paying 30 dollars a square foot to store boxes.   I’d rather see them in a warehouse or in the basement of the building.  Things like that are going on.”

Knox chaired the mayor’s “Task Force on City-Owned Facilities,” which has now issued its final report after more than two years of study.

The report has ten key recommendations that the task force believes could help the city save between $66 million and $121 million over five years.

Read the Entire “Task Force on City-Owned Facilities” Report (.pdf format)

Welcoming the report was Mayor Nutter (at lectern in photo), who said, “This is real money, serious money.”

Knox rattled off several additional problems, including a failure by some city departments to rein in utility costs.

“Some are paying $2 a square foot for utilities, some are paying ten.  If you’re paying ten, you probably have the air conditioning on with the windows open,” Knox said.

And Knox said some departments start lease renewal negotiations with building managers, without bringing in the Department of Public Property until the end.   And some inefficiencies in office space, he said, are simply the result of human nature.

“Sometimes your boss leaves and you decide his office is a lot nicer, so before the next boss comes in, you move into it.  We just need to come up with new space standards for the City of Philadelphia,” he said.

One of the report’s recommendations is the creation of a database of owned and leased facilities used by the city.

“If you want to manage something, you need data.  So the city needs that database to do all of these things,”  said Knox.

Philadelphia government owns about nine million square feet of office space and also rents about 1.3 million square feet more.   The task force also recommends that the mayor develop a consolidation plan to reduce the amount of rented office space as leases expire.