Watchdog: Uncle Sam Has Trouble Keeping Track of His Property

The Parker Dam is one of the facilities named in the report. The Parker Dam is one of the facilities named in the report. United States Bureau of Reclamation

From roads to water towers to particle accelerators, the 480,000 government-owned structures nationwide are not being inventoried as carefully as its buildings, an audit found.

As a result, agencies using differing criteria to report the structures they own may be missing opportunities to save money, the Government Accountability Office said in a Feb. 4 report.

For example, the report supplied photographs showing a radio tower at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport managed by the Federal Aviation Administration that could be counted as one structure, or six, in the federal inventory. “Structures” include the antenna system, a raised structure that holds the antenna system, a lower structure accomplishing the same thing, a cable system that carries data from the antenna to the building, the tower’s concrete foundation and the concrete beneath the tower.

The federal body responsible for coordinating inventories into a single profile is the interagency Federal Real Property Council. It typically spends more of its efforts on buildings, which generate more status inquiries from other agencies, Congress and the public, GAO found.

“Agencies take different approaches to defining and inventorying structures making the aggregation of data in the FRPP's database unreliable,” auditors wrote after visiting 24 sites for structures owned by five agencies. “These agencies counted structures differently, provided inaccurate structure location information, and categorized their structures inconsistently, all of which limits the usefulness of the data on structures in the FRPP.”

GAO recommended that the Office of Management and Budget work with the property council to develop guidance to make reporting on structures more consistent while considering scaling back data collection.

Both GSA and OMB agreed with the recommendations, and GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini created an action plan to implement them.  

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.