GSA's Federal Buildings Fund Fails To Meet Primary Objectives

PLRD-82-18: Published: Dec 11, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 1981.

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The Federal Buildings Fund was established in 1972 to finance the General Services Administration's (GSA) acquisition and operations of government owned and leased buildings. Federal agencies occupying space in GSA controlled buildings pay standard level user charges based on comparable commercial rates, which are deposited in the Fund and then made available in annual appropriation acts to GSA for construction, leasing, and real property operations. GAO reviewed the Fund to determine the success it has had in meeting its primary objectives of: (1) providing sufficient funding for construction; and (2) making executive agencies more space conscious.

GAO found that, to date, the Fund has not accomplished its two primary objectives. It has not generated sufficient revenues for construction, and there is no evidence indicating that anticipated improvements in space utilization have occurred. GAO stated that the Fund has not generated sufficient revenues for construction because it has experienced a cash flow problem since its inception. The Fund was created without receiving any up-front funds, and then it was expected to reverse the effect of prior budgetary decisions to lease rather than construct needed space. Given enough time, the Fund may overcome the cash flow problems. Also, the outlook for the Fund providing increased revenues for construction has improved somewhat because of the refinements in the method used to compute rental rates. In regard to space utilization, there is no evidence indicating that there has been any appreciable improvement in space usage by tenant agencies or that cost savings have occurred because agencies must budget and pay for the space they occupy. GAO concluded that the imposition of a user charge has not brought about the substantial space reductions and cost savings that were anticipated when the Fund was established.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Legislation was introduced in 97th and 98th Congresses; but was not enacted. Although valid, this recommendation should be dropped.

    Matter: Congress should either grant the General Services Administration authority to borrow from the Treasury or make direct appropriations available to the Fund to augment its resources.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither committee has yet required agencies to submit the disclosure. Although valid, the recommendation should be dropped.

    Matter: The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations should require agencies to disclose, in their budget requests to Congress, information on space usage and costs.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither committee has yet required agencies to submit the disclosure. Although valid, the recommendation should be dropped.

    Matter: The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations should require agencies to disclose, in their budget requests to Congress, information on space usage and costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GSA has changed space usage criteria to 135 square feet per person from 175 square feet. This change should ensure more efficient space. Therefore, the recommendation should be dropped.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require, pursuant to Federal Management Regulations, that periodic space utilization inspections and surveys be conducted to ensure efficient and effective use of space.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation should be dropped because it will take years to fully implement. GSA has a 5 year guide to acquire EDP equipment and upgrade old equipment. Also, the General Government Division, Civilian Procurement and Property Management issue area plan for fiscal year 1985 to 1988, includes the GSA automated systems as a new issue.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should place increased emphasis on correcting the deficiencies in the two automated systems which are used to manage public building operations.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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