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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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