Government Surplus Asset Management at the Movies

When you’re as obsessed with government surplus property as we are, you may start noticing its presence in some pretty unexpected places. For instance, how it plays out in popular movies. Today, we thought we’d share just a few movies that feature government surplus property as an element in the plot and discuss what lessons we surplus-savvy folks can learn from each. (Get your popcorn ready!)

The Blues Brothers

When Elwood Blues picks up his brother Jake from the Joliet Correctional Center, the new Bluesmobile is a decommissioned Mount Prospect police car bought at a surplus auction. While Jake doesn’t appreciate the irony of leaving prison in a former cop car, Elwood couldn’t pass up such a high-quality, affordable surplus opportunity. (Especially after having traded the previous Bluesmobile for a microphone.)

Lesson learned from this surplus story: Your surplus auctions are the perfect way to help the general public (like Elwood!) get great stuff at a good price, so make sure you sing about it. Put out the good word on social media… A surplus e-newsletter… Even local publications or radio opportunities! Keep it up, be consistent, and your tune will catch on.

Also of note: Never trade a government car for audio equipment. You won’t enjoy explaining that come auditing time.

My Science Project

As two 1980s high school students break into a military surplus facility to steal technology— and pass it off as their science project— they stumble across an alien orb that absorbs energy, opening up a rift in time and space.

Lesson learned from this surplus story: If the orb, as a highly-mobile, dangerous and priceless example of federal property, had been tagged with RFID technology, we could have avoided all this hubbub. One thorough inventory by the government asset management team and they not only would have seen the property was erroneously sent to surplus, but could have tracked its whereabouts in real-time. It’s a classic case of how, while barcode tags are sufficient for most assets, RFID can prevent a science teacher from being sucked into the space-time continuum. (And offer greater accountability throughout the asset and surplus management lifecycle. That’s really important, too.)

Mystery Men

We may not know the full history behind the Herkimer Battle Jitney that ends up at the junkyard where superhero Mr. Furious (secret identity “Roy”) has his day job. But we do know it was a specially-designed military defense vehicle. Which means it may be an improperly disposed-of government surplus asset that legally should have been offered to other government agencies or sent to a surplus auction. Though the junkyard owner wants Roy to “junk it,” ultimately, the Jitney serves a higher purpose — the ideal crime-fighting vehicle for our brave team of Mystery Men. (So perhaps we can overlook the breach of regulations just this once.)

Lesson learned from this surplus story: The right surplus management software can help you make the most of valuable government assets, from Herkimer Battle Jitneys to heavy machinery. Track these items and you actively build a history of what you have, where it’s located and— if transferred to another agency or sent for disposal— where it went. Run surplus reports to determine where similar items have sold best, make better disposal decisions, and ensure that rare, elite technologies don’t end up in public junkyards or landfills.

Tremors 2

Burt Gummer, doomsday prepper and underground-monster-fighter throughout the Tremors movie and TV franchise, is a poster boy for government surplus sales. We see it in the way he outfits himself and his isolated compound to the MREs he dines on every day. Those MREs actually become a deliciously dangerous plot point in Tremors 2. That’s when the monsters develop a taste for Burt’s surplus military cuisine and the food causes them to multiply.

Lesson learned from this surplus story: Any surplus shop will have their enthusiastic repeat customers. Ensure you have clear, regular lines of communication with them about your exciting new surplus shipments, and you’ll be able to move more surplus more quickly, while they continue to get the items they love.

Note: Your surplus organization is not responsible for what customers do with the assets post-sale. Like when they accidentally lock their purchase into storage with ravenous Precambrian lifeforms; that is not your problem. That said, if you’re a SASP, that sure would make for interesting completion of a utilization and compliance form.

Do you know of any additional movies that feature government surplus property in their storylines? Email us at and we might just include them in an updated blog post!

Whether you’re tracking one facility or multiple distribution centers, AssetWorks Surplus Management Software (SMS) is a scalable solution, designed to help your surplus warehouse automate and streamline processes, making it easier to achieve both environmental and fiscal sustainability goals.


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