Real Property Management:

Reforms in Four Countries Promote Competition

GGD-94-166: Published: Sep 30, 1994. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how four countries restructured their real property management organizations, focusing on the: (1) countries' efforts to address long-standing property management problems; (2) results of these reforms to date; and (3) lessons learned from the reforms that may be applicable in the United States.

GAO found that: (1) the countries' real property management problems have included poor business practices, inadequate asset management strategies, and policy and funding barriers; (2) based on competitive and entrepreneurial principles used in the private sector, the countries introduced private-sector competition for real property services and space, adopted more business-like practices, provided more strategic management of assets to maximize investment returns and meet customer needs, and separated building services from asset management and policy oversight and development roles; (3) the countries' management reforms began in the late 1980's and are ongoing, but definitive results are not yet available; (4) the countries have reorganized their real property organizations to be more competitive and responsive to customer needs; (5) the reforms in three of the countries appear promising in terms of improving economic performance and satisfying customer needs; (6) some real property managers are still hampered by untimely approval processes for building acquisitions, restrictive disposal requirements, and their inability to retain proceeds from property disposals; and (7) the lessons learned from the countries' real property reforms include the importance of competition, and the need to establish a framework for managing the transition and identifying accountability.

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