GSA Can Do More To Ensure Leased Federal Office Space Meets Its Firesafety Criteria

PLRD-81-8: Published: May 1, 1981. Publicly Released: May 1, 1981.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

James G. Mitchell
(202) 275-4128
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

As of January 1980, the General Services Administration (GSA) was leasing about 66 million square feet of space in privately owned and operated buildings. Federal Property Management Regulations require GSA to provide workspace that equals the accident and fire prevention standards contained in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The regulations also require that all Federal agencies be concurrently responsible with GSA for developing and maintaining a sound fire prevention program. GAO reviewed the GSA management of its firesafety program for leased space to determine if GSA: (1) was adequately administering building leases to ensure that lessors were complying with lease firesafety requirements; (2) was including all GSA firesafety standards in leases; and (3) was inspecting adequately and in a timely manner the leased space to determine its adequacy for Federal employee occupancy as far as firesafety matters were concerned.

Buildings with leased space in the three regions reviewed contained numerous firesafety deficiencies, according to GSA criteria. Some deficiencies had existed for many years. Thus, Federal employees were working in leased space that did not meet the minimum firesafety protection required by the GSA criteria, and the Government was not receiving all the firesafety features that it should have obtained. The regions were not aware that the buildings contained firesafety deficiencies. The process for evaluating firesafety conditions in leased space contained serious flaws in applying firesafety requirements, identifying and scheduling buildings for inspection, performing firesafety surveys, and reporting the results. Firesafety inspectors did not realize that they needed to apply the requirements of local codes, Schedule B of leases, and GSA national firesafety criteria or that it was necessary to cite the specific violation or violations in their reports to establish liability for corrective action.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to establish procedures to control the prompt correction of firesafety deficiencies. These procedures should include: (1) defining the responsibilities and duties for the personnel of the acquisition and accident and fire prevention branches; and (2) monitoring the requests for and receipt of firesafety survey reports and actions taken by the acquisition branches, corrective actions taken by the lessors, and evaluations of corrective actions taken by the accident and fire prevention branches. In addition, these procedures should be explained to the personnel of the two branches in formal training sessions. These procedures should also include the legal actions necessary to require lessors to take corrective actions.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should have the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service determine whether there are similar problems in the GSA firesafety program for Government-owned space and, if so, take appropriate actions.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to establish a program to instruct firesafety inspectors on their responsibilities and duties.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to require that the current GSA policy for deviating from firesafety requirements be followed.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to ensure that specific information on the amount and location of planned and existing leased space is properly sent from the regional acquisition branches to the accident and fire prevention branches so that the required firesafety surveys and inspections can be made.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to enforce the GSA requirement to include Schedule B in leases. Further, any modification of firesafety requirements in Schedule B should be justified by the contracting officer and should be approved by the Regional Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, before being incorporated into the lease.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to initiate action to have the lessors promptly correct all firesafety deficiencies in leased space for which they are responsible.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to clarify and consolidate existing policies and procedures, possibly in a handbook, including how to enforce lease provisions to ensure firesafety deficiencies are corrected. In addition, the handbook should cover how to conduct firesafety surveys of leased space and how to prepare the report for firesafety deficiencies. The handbook should require GSA to provide survey reports to interested parties, such as tenant agency representatives.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 26, 2016

Sep 23, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Aug 30, 2016

Aug 11, 2016

Jul 22, 2016

Jul 21, 2016

Jul 6, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here