Federal Research:

Aging Federal Laboratories Need Repairs and Upgrades

T-RCED-93-71: Published: Sep 23, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1993.

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GAO discussed investment in and maintenance of federal laboratories, focusing on the: (1) condition of federal laboratory facilities; (2) effect of inadequate laboratory facilities on agencies' scientific productivity and research capabilities; and (3) funding needed to repair or upgrade these facilities. GAO noted that: (1) 54 percent of the floor space in eight federal laboratories is more than 30 years old; (2) typical problems among the laboratories include leaking roofs and inadequate ventilating systems that do not meet industry standards for circulating air; (3) many older laboratories are obsolete and cannot meet advanced research and development needs and health and safety code requirements; (4) federal laboratory facility managers and researchers have identified several instances, particularly involving old ventilating systems and power outages, in which aging laboratory facilities substantially reduced scientific productivity; (5) several agencies cite the need for advanced laboratory facilities that provide greater flexibility to respond to new programs and scientists' research needs; (6) agencies have reported a backlog of more than $3.8 billion in needed repairs for their laboratories; and (7) funding to renovate existing laboratory facilities or construct new ones is only slightly adequate or inadequate at six agencies.

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