Key Issues > Federal Real Property - High Risk Issue
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Federal Real Property - High Risk Issue

The federal government continues to face a number of challenges to effectively managing its federal real property, including long-standing problems with excess and underutilized property and overreliance on leasing.

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This key issue page is related to an area on GAO’s 2017 High Risk Update and will be updated shortly. In the meantime, visit the related High Risk area for the newest information.

The total federal real property portfolio is vast and diverse, totaling over 900,000 buildings and structures with a combined area of over 3 billion square feet. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration hold most federally owned and leased space. Federal real property management has been designated as a high-risk area in part due to agencies’ long-standing problems with

  • excess and underutilized property, and
  • overreliance on leasing.

The federal government has made some progress in managing property since it was first added to the high-risk series by developing a centralized real property database and establishing real property disposal goals. However, attempts to correct these problems have not yet addressed their root causes. Agencies face legal requirements for screening and environmental cleanup that present a challenge to disposing of properties. Additionally, competing stakeholder interests can complicate federal real property decisions. The Office of Management and Budget should develop an action plan to address key problems with disposing of excess and underutilized property and a strategy to reduce agencies’ reliance on leasing where ownership would result in long-term savings.

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High Risk: Managing Federal Real Property
  • portrait of David Wise
    • David Wise
    • Director, Physical Infrastructure
    • (202) 512-5731