National Park Service:

Federal Taxpayers Could Have Benefited More From Potomac Yard Land Exchange

GAO-01-292: Published: Mar 15, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2001.

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Barry T. Hill
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contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
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Settling 30 years of sometimes acrimonious dispute, the National Park Service completed an exchange of land interests on two vacant parcels of land in Potomac Yard in March 2000. However, the Park Service could have received more than $15 million from the private developer--rather than owing the developer $14 million--if the exchanged interests had been appropriately valued. As a federal agency, the Park Service has a responsibility to protect federal taxpayers' interests when it acquires or conveys land interests. Yet, the Park Service did not do so when it instructed the appraiser to derive a value for development on the Alexandria parcel that was not shown to be reasonably probable, or when it used an appraised value on the Arlington parcel that understated the worth of the Park Service's interests. Consequently, the Park Service gave the developer credit for losses that might not have realistically occurred and did not receive enough credit for allowing the developer to develop the Arlington parcel. However, the transaction is now fully executed--as in similar situations when a government agency pays too much for an item under a contract--it is unlikely that the Park Service can recover any funds.

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