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Greek Public Property Management Reform – An Alternative Way

The general impetus for structural reform, as the only promising way to change the flow of the present negative status in Greece, had an equal effect on the State’s corporate real estate.

However, most actions around the Greek public property seem rather one-dimensional, since they are only focused on activities relating to the investment, the development and the disposition of public property, that aim to fulfill a single goal; to improve the state’s public finances by increasing public proceeds and creating new income.

This trend has already been observed in many other European States, as a policy shift towards asset’s privatizations or property sales, which is part of an aggressive plan to reduce state deficits. For example, in Germany, public sector disposals totaled over $440m in 2011 (CBRE, 2012).

It is obvious that Greece, as well as the other Southern European countries, do have to participate in a highly competitive environment, which includes stronger competitors which utilize equal tools in order to achieve the same scope; to raise capital.

An additional vital constraint for efficient real asset development is the fact that we are in the middle of a depressed situation where banks are in a state of absolute inertia. The Greek real estate cycle continuous its accelerated downward course, enough to rank Athens last in the survey for existing investments, new investments, and development (PWC & ULI, 2012).

This article wishes to highlight an alternative way of property exploitation that can guarantee a massive cut spending for the Greek State through the use of an enhanced corporate property management framework that nonetheless requires a high standard Government apparatus.

Taking into account the magnitude of the Greek State, which consists of about 1 million employees, one can easily understand the corresponding amount of property that is utilized to accommodate its various needs. The total accommodation cost seems to be the highest besides the total labor cost.

The proposed idea is based on former private and public sector workspace reform aiming to minimize real estate footprint. Many State agencies and private organizations worldwide have turned to alternative work environments in order to reduce workspace costs and optimize physical workspace.


According to Marc McCauley, director of real estate development for Arlington Economic Development, the federal government is already moving in the same direction; doing more with less (USA Today, 2012).

Similarly, Elaine Clancy, director of leasing for GSA's national capital region, explains that the new role of the GSA, which oversees office space for government agencies (owns and leases 354 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings in more than 2,200 U.S. communities), is to maximize the use of government-owned facilities through helping agencies creatively shrink their space (ibid.).

For example, the renovation project of GSA's downtown Washington headquarters, is planned to provide space for almost 2,000 more workers because of shared work spaces and telecommuting (GSA, 2011).

At the ULI Washington Real Estate Trends conference on April 17, speakers representing the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) all said that their agencies are under pressure to downsize their space needs and use existing government buildings before considering the use of privately owned space (ULI, 2012).

Therefore, agencies are reducing the number of square feet required for each employee through increasing use of technology, teleworking, and other strategies. In fact, federal agencies are being directed that all newly leased office space give each federal employee no more than 157 square feet of workspace instead of the previous standard of 200 square feet (Federal Times, 2011).

According to the previous cases, shrinking the size of the Greek State by keeping the number of employees constant seems like a realistic alternative. Optimal property portfolio restructuring can begin by modifying the acceptable workspace standards to the minimum acceptable level.

In addition, the Greek State can most efficiently and effectively minimize its square foot usage by implementing innovative workspace strategy such as dismantling cubicles to create a free-flowing layout. Alternative work environments including telework, desk sharing and flexible space may also be utilized. Equally, the Greek Government should invest in the expansion of its ¨electronic services delivery¨ capability in order to minimize citizens’ gathering in State’s buildings. It should also aim to the digitization of hard-copy historical records in order to reduce the amount of office real estate needed. Finally, it should consider collaborating with 3rd party logistics providers in order to reduce supply chain costs, such as warehousing, transportation and management costs.

Based on a recent, relative study by the U.S. General Services Administration (2012), which determines the typical accommodation cost of an employee between $10,000 - $15,000 annually per person, it is estimated that over $1B per year can be saved by the Greek Government through eliminating about 100,000 workspaces.

However, a last but not least limitation must be noted, which signifies the main barrier for implementing an effective corporate real estate plan in the public sector. This is the State’s low level of readiness, competence and administrative efficiency. Almost all public administrations in the world struggle to balance between regulatory rigidity (fragmented management, bureaucracy, lack of expertise, lack of modern tools, lack of information and data traffic failure) and undefined strategy.

Michail Kokkonis, MSc Real Estate, BSc MechE - Real Property Asset Manager & Consultant

Adam Consultancy Services is a new business initiative based on the notion that outstanding solutions always arise as a joint effort amongst stakeholders and their associates.

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