GSA doesn’t know how many buildings it should sell, audit finds

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Charles Dharapak/AP
The government lacks reliable data on the number of federal properties that can be deemed superfluous and hence sold, the Government Accountability Office reported Wednesday. Inconsistently defined measures of property conditions, use and operating costs could call into question the Obama administration’s two-year-old effort to achieve savings by selling excess assets.

In a report requested by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management subcommittee, GAO identified inaccuracies in the data profiles of 23 of 26 locations surveyed, including mischaracterizations of the properties’ value and centrality to the missions of the five agencies that own them.

The report comes just as House Republicans have stepped up their campaign to pressure the General Services Administration to accelerate its efforts to unload unneeded properties.

GSA, the auditors wrote, in response to requirements set forth in a June 2010 presidential memorandum for agencies to achieve $3 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2012, “reported approximately $118 million in lease cost savings resulting from four new construction projects. However, GSA has yet to occupy any of these buildings and the agency’s cost savings analysis projected these savings would occur over a 30-year period -- far beyond the time frame of the memorandum.”

The report concludes that the Federal Real Property Council, a multiagency group led by the Office of Management and Budget, “has not followed sound data collection practices in designing and maintaining the Federal Real Property Profile database.” It recommends that OMB’s deputy director for management collaborate with FRPP agencies to develop and publish a national strategy for managing federal excess and underutilized real property that includes timelines. It also recommends GSA work with the member agencies to develop and implement a plan to improve the FRPP consistent with sound data collection practices.

Dan Tangherlini, acting GSA chief, largely agreed with the recommendations and agreed to implement them.

Carper, who has a bill (S. 2178) aimed at improving data on federal property assets, said in a statement, “As the adage goes, 'you can't manage what you can't measure,' and that is certainly true when it comes to improving how agencies' property is managed. Agency managers are essentially working with one hand tied behind their backs due to the lack of clear, reliable data about the status of the property they own and manage.” He added, “Fortunately, both Congress and the Obama administration are united in their commitment to address this issue.”

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.