An online auction is going on now for over $50 million worth of surplus property currently belonging to the State of Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) has thousands of surplus items for sale to the public. It includes office supplies, medical equipment, furniture, cars, trucks, electronic equipment and backhoes. The items are up for bid on the state online surplus property auction, which ends Sunday at 6 p.m.

To learn how to become an authorized bidder, visit this website. The auction items are listed on govdeals.com.

In addition to property no longer needed by state agencies, ADECA acquires items abandoned voluntarily at airports in the Southeast. Also, some federal agencies consign items to Alabama's Surplus Property Division.

In-person viewing and inspections of the inventory will be available at the Surplus Property Division's Montgomery Distribution Center at 4590 Mobile Highway from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. There are photos of some of the surplus items here.

ADECA explained the online sale process:

“ADECA holds online public auctions periodically each year, but surplus items are available at any time to municipal and county governments, state agencies and qualified nonprofit organizations. All items are sold as is without guarantees. All sales are final upon pickup and removal of the property.

In addition to the surplus property auctions, ADECA administers a variety of grant programs for law enforcement, victim services, economic development, energy conservation, water resource management, broadband expansion and recreation development.”

The State of Alabama has over $50 million of surplus property on hand at any given time.

The process of buying surplus property from the State of Alabama is a bit more complicated than you might think. First, many of those items are not auctioned individually. Instead of bidding on a single used item, you may have to bid on a whole pallet of used widgets. The process lends itself to people who deal in reselling things.

What do you bid for this pallet of used cell phones in various states of disrepair?

Secondly, the information on surplus items is limited and tedious to obtain. Many bidders bid on "lots" of used items sight unseen. Some information is available online. There are limited times (listed above) to actually go to the ADECA warehouse and inspect the items.

Here is information from ADECA on viewing the surplus property:

"Inspection Instructions: You are encouraged to attend the public viewing and inspections. They are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 31 through Friday, February 2, 2024."

Surplus property may be used, salvaged, parts only, etc. Property may have unknown issues, such as missing parts and defects.

ADECA and the Surplus Property Program do not test or diagnose used items. All known information is included in the lot photos and descriptions. Let the buyer beware that all items are sold as is, where is, without any warranty or guarantees. All sales are final upon pickup and removal.

Third, you have to go through a process of registering as a bidder, evaluating the items as best you can, submitting your bid and paying your successful bid.

Nevertheless, bargain-hunting Alabamians are taking advantage of online auctions right now.    

Some of the surplus property was originally purchased with your state tax dollars. The rest, by your federal tax dollars.

This Surplus Property Program also saves Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars annually by selling this property for a fraction of its value to public entities and eligible nonprofit organizations.

The Surplus Property division has two warehouses – one located in Montgomery and one in Eva in northern Alabama. The hours of operation for both warehouses are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To register as a bidder, go online to www.GovDeals.com. Select "Buyer Register" to complete the bidder registration process. You will receive a temporary password from GovDeals to use to log in for the first time as a registered GovDeals Bidder.

If you have any questions or need assistance regarding the registration or bidding process, please contact GovDeals. 1- 800-613-0156 or [email protected].

Please use the Q&A (question and answer) feature for all questions. Q&A will end at noon CT on Friday, February 2.

Pickup and Removal Instructions: Please pick up and remove your purchased items during the following dates: February 5–9, February 12–16 or February 20–23. Pick up and remove your items from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CT.  

No appointment is needed for pick up. Buyers will make all arrangements and perform all work necessary, including paperwork, packing, loading, shipping, and transportation. Under no circumstances will the State of Alabama Surplus Property Division assume responsibility for paperwork, packing, loading, shipping and transportation.

Payment: Purchases will only be released upon receipt of payment.

Live auctions will be held later.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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