Buy cheap but dirty cars, fax machines from Chicago's online surplus auction

If Chicago's government were to hold a garage sale, what sorts of junk would find its way onto the lawn? With the city's online surplus auctions, shoppers can check out all the local government's used goods, the sale of which raised over $3 million for Chicago in 2011. No, unfortunately there aren't any VHS tapes of Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit-but if there had been, the auctions would have surely been much more lucrative. The items currently up for sale range from microfilm machines to limestone slabs to used vehicles. In the past, the city has also sold street banners from the areas surrounding Wrigley and Soldier Fields, toner for copier machines, and all-terrain vehicles.

At the same time, as the auctions promote recycling for a greener government, the sale of the used goods also saves the government a significant amount of money. Last year's profits were double what the city's auctions raised in 2010, forming part of Mayor Emanuel's strive to better balance the budget. Ron Swanson would be proud.


Chicago Auctions Scrap Metal for Cash

Old city equipment racks in revenue for the City of Chicago.

What's the city of Chicago to do with unneeded fax machine toners, scrap metal and old vehicle parts? Sell them, of course.

The City's Department of Procurement Services collected $3.6 million in 2011 from the sale of city surplus materials through an online auction system, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

The auction was close to doubling its 2010 collected amount, and the mayor couldn't be happier

"It is our responsibility to the taxpayers of Chicago to leave no stone unturned or old fax machine unsold when it comes to bringing in new revenue to the City," Emanuel said.

And there's more where that came from.

The Department of Procurement Services believes it will collect $4.6 million in the 2012 auctions. DPS has already generated more than $90,000 in new revenue since Jan 1.

"For each dollar we bring in through our online auction system, it's one less dollar we have to find from someplace else which allows us to preserve critical City services that Chicagoans depend on," Emanuel said


City makes millions from its old junk

Hoping this year's online auction tops $4 million.

By Sandra Guy - Business Reporter sguy@suntimes.com

City Officials are doing what frantic penny-pinchers have done for years: They're searching every nook and cranny for old fax machines, abandoned SUVs, unsold sports banners and other surplus property to auction online.

Their efforts, per Mayor Rahm Emanuel's do-more-with-less edict, collected $3.6 million in winning bids in 2011 - double the$1.8 million take in 2010. City officials now aim to collect $4.6 million from the online auctions this year by finding even more junk to get rid of.

"We started an aggressive outreach campaign when I said, "If you're not sitting on your chair, I'm going to sell it," said Jamie Rhee, the city's chief procurement officer in charge of the process. "When we can reuse something, we will, but when something is outdated and we can make money off of it, we're going to sell it."

The city hired Public Surplus, a Provo, Utah-based Internet auction company that specializes in government auctions, to conduct the auctions. Public Surplus collects 6.75 percent of the take up to $1 million, after which it collects 6.25 percent. The city held 661 auctions of surplus and abandoned equipment last year.

The most surprising winning bidder was a South American government that wanted old stand-alone fax machines, said Rhee, an 18-year city government veteran who worked as general counsel for the O'Hare Airport modernization program before being named chief of procurement two-and-a-half years ago.

Other winning bids included $20,105 for a 2008 Mercedes Benz SUV; $18,900 for a 2008 Land Rover; and $1,700 for "Walter Payton-Sweetness" Chicago Bears banners. Bidders fought for 330 Xerox copier toners, which sold for $913, and a Black & Decker table saw, which went for $26.