Published: Mar 08, 2013 10:43 AM EST

MIAMI (AP) - A congressional panel is holding a hearing in Miami on why federal courthouses often have so much unused space and why some buildings sit vacant for years.
    
The House Oversight and Government Reform panel is meeting Friday at Miami Dade College. The committee this week released an audit showing that 33 newer courthouses have some 3.5 million square feet of unused space. The audit by the Government Accountability Office says that costs taxpayers $51 million extra a year for rent, maintenance and operation.
    
Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida says the hearing will shine light on the unused space problem. The hearing also will examine possible uses of vacant properties such as Miami's historic downtown courthouse.
    
Nearby Miami Dade College proposes using that building for a cultural and educational center.

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