Key Issues > Federal Real Property
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Federal Real Property

The federal government continues to face a number of challenges to effectively managing its federal real property, including long-standing problems with excess and underutilized property and overreliance on leasing.

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The total federal real property portfolio is vast and diverse, totaling over 900,000 buildings and structures with a combined area of over 3 billion square feet. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration hold most federally owned and leased space. Federal real property management has been designated as a high-risk area in part due to agencies’ long-standing problems with

  • excess and underutilized property, and
  • overreliance on leasing.

The federal government has made some progress in managing property since it was first added to the high-risk series by developing a centralized real property database and establishing real property disposal goals. However, attempts to correct these problems have not yet addressed their root causes. Agencies face legal requirements for screening and environmental cleanup that present a challenge to disposing of properties. Additionally, competing stakeholder interests can complicate federal real property decisions. The Office of Management and Budget should develop an action plan to address key problems with disposing of excess and underutilized property and a strategy to reduce agencies’ reliance on leasing where ownership would result in long-term savings.

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Federal Buildings Fund:

Improved Transparency and Long-term Plan Needed to Clarify Capital Funding Priorities
GAO-12-646:
Published: Jul 12, 2012. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 2012.

Federal Real Property:

National Strategy and Better Data Needed to Improve Management of Excess and Underutilized Property
GAO-12-645:
Published: Jun 20, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 2012.

Federal Real Property:

Overreliance on Leasing Contributed to High-Risk Designation
GAO-11-879T:
Published: Aug 4, 2011. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 2011.

Federal Real Property:

Proposed Civilian Board Could Address Disposal of Unneeded Facilities
GAO-11-704T:
Published: Jun 9, 2011. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 2011.

Federal Real Property:

Progress Made on Planning and Data, but Unneeded Owned and Leased Facilities Remain
GAO-11-520T:
Published: Apr 6, 2011. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 2011.

More Reports

Capital Financing:

Alternative Approaches to Budgeting for Federal Real Property
GAO-14-239:
Published: Mar 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 2014.

Federal Real Property:

Actions Needed to Improve How Agencies Manage Structures
GAO-14-87:
Published: Jan 6, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 2014.

Federal Real Property:

GSA Should Clarify Savings Goals for the National Broker Contract Program
GAO-14-14:
Published: Oct 31, 2013. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

Improved Standards Needed to Ensure That Agencies' Reported Cost Savings Are Reliable and Transparent
GAO-14-12:
Published: Oct 29, 2013. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

Federal Real Property:

Greater Transparency and Strategic Focus Needed for High-Value GSA Leases
GAO-13-744:
Published: Sep 19, 2013. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

Excess and Underutilized Property Is an Ongoing Challenge
GAO-13-573T:
Published: Apr 25, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

High-Risk Designation Remains due to Persistent Management Challenges
GAO-13-422T:
Published: Feb 27, 2013. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

Improved Cost Reporting Would Help Decision Makers Weigh the Benefits of Enhanced Use Leasing
GAO-13-14:
Published: Dec 19, 2012. Publicly Released: Jan 18, 2013.

Federal Real Property:

Improved Data Needed to Strategically Manage Historic Buildings, Address Multiple Challenges
GAO-13-35:
Published: Dec 11, 2012. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 2013.
More...

Videos

High Risk: Managing Federal Real Property
  • portrait of David Wise
    • David Wise
    • Director, Physical Infrastructure
    • wised@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-5731