More Effective Leasing Procedures and Practices Could Help GSA Reduce Delays in Meeting Federal Space Needs

PLRD-82-46: Published: May 10, 1982. Publicly Released: May 10, 1982.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for meeting federal agencies' needs for office space and is the central authority for federal space management and leasing. However, GSA often fails to satisfy these needs within its 6-month goal to provide requested space. GAO reviewed three GSA regions to determine the extent of delays in providing space, the reasons for the delays, the effects of the delays, and the actions needed to improve timeliness.

While the average time for delivering space nationwide is about 9 months, GSA took more than 6 months to complete about half of the agency requests for space and in some cases took 2 to 3.5 years to provide space. Delays in acquiring leased space are primarily due to: (1) GSA administrative review and oversight procedures and socioeconomic and life-safety requirements which have prolonged and complicated the leasing process; (2) the failure of GSA leasing resources to increase at a pace commensurate with the increased use and complexity of leasing; and (3) the tight lease market in several major cities. Delays in meeting agency space needs sometimes adversely affect agency operations. When agencies have to maintain and operate offices at dispersed locations, the result is excessive commuting and loss of productivity. The monetary costs of these effects are not known. Delays have also caused holdover tenancy situations wherein the government continues to occupy space without the benefit of a lease contract and may have to pay extra costs when the lease is renewed. Although the responsibility for leasing activities was centralized in GSA about 30 years ago, it has not issued a governmentwide regulation on the leasing of real property, nor has it monitored the procedures and practices of agencies with delegated leasing authority. At the completion of the GAO review, GSA was developing a governmentwide leasing regulation which would provide for the systematic monitoring of agency leasing policies and procedures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GSA believes that it has made significant progress in monitoring the nationwide program to reduce processing time for space acquisition to an acceptable level. Delegation of leasing authority would be counterproductive to efforts to improve space utilization and control reduction in space for agencies.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, to reduce delays and improve performance, should delegate leasing authority on a trial basis for small blocks of space in nonurban areas. Delegations should be monitored by GSA and expanded or terminated based on agency performance.

    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, to ensure that agencies with delegated leasing authority follow sound and consistent leasing procedures and practices, should issue the Government-wide regulation specifying the policies and procedures which the agencies must follow in acquiring leased space.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In fiscal 1983, the GSA central office allocated an additional 44 personnel positions to its regions to be used for leasing on other activities as needed.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, to reduce delays and improve performance, should improve the level of resources devoted to leasing by reducing the attrition rate for leasing personnel and supplementing the leasing resources as needed.

    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, to reduce delays and improve performance, should prepare a complete inventory of the space requests backlog and a plan of action to reduce and monitor the backlog.

    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, to ensure that agencies with delegated leasing authority follow sound and consistent leasing procedures and practices, should furnish agencies granted leasing authority with GSA directives, instructions, and other publications on the scope, availability, and implementation of federal leasing policies, regulations, and procedures.

    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, to ensure that agencies with delegated leasing authority follow sound and consistent leasing procedures and practices, should establish a program for the systematic monitoring of agency compliance with the governmentwide regulation.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GSA has implemented an automated system for inventory of space requests, but sees no useful purpose in disclosing information about its performance in the annual report. It plans to use the data as a basis for reporting when requested by congressional committees and Members of Congress.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should maintain statistics on the volume of agency space requests and disclose in the annual report to Congress information on GSA performance in filling space requests and the factors that impede service.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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