Federal Buildings:

Funding Repairs and Alterations Has Been a Challenge--Expanded Financing Tools Needed

GAO-01-452: Published: Apr 12, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 2001.

Additional Materials:


Mark L. Goldstein
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The General Services Administration (GSA), the federal government's real property manager, it is responsible for identifying, funding, and completing needed repairs and alterations at federal buildings. This report examines (1) GSA's process for assessing and selecting prospectus-level major repair and alteration design projects for funding, (2) the obstacles that impede GSA from satisfying its repair and alteration requirements, and (3) the consequences associated with deferring needed repairs and alterations at selected buildings. GAO found that in fiscal year 2001, GSA assessed the merits of 27 prospectus-level repair and alteration design projects and recommended 12 for funding. These projects were selected by a multifaceted process that relied on empirical data and professional judgment coupled with specific selection criteria and computer analysis that compared competing projects. GSA explained its decisions when it recommended lower-ranked projects for repairs. However, because of insufficient funding, those projects were placed on GSA's growing repair and alteration inventory. GSA has faced long-standing obstacles, including inadequate program data, the lack of a multiyear repair and alteration plan, and limited funding, in reducing this multibillion-dollar inventory. In addition, funding limitations remain a major obstacle. Delaying or not performing needed repairs and alterations may have serious consequences, including health and safety problems.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act of 2003 was introduced on June 19, 2003 to amend the Federal Real Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949. This bill would have enhanced federal real property management but was not enacted.

    Matter: Congress should consider providing the Administrator of GSA the authority to experiment with funding alternatives, such as exploring public-private partnerships when the reflect the best economic value available for the federal government and retaining funds from real property transactions, like the sale of unneeded assets. If such authority is granted, Congress should continue its appropriation control and oversight over the use of any funds retained by GSA.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has revised the health and safety weights in its model for ranking repair and alteration projects. Specifically, in selecting FY 2003 R&A projects, safety's and health's weights were increased a combined total of four percent from those in the prior years model that we had examined. In addition, GSA said it is developing written guidance that will emphasize health and safety problems. Regions will use this guidance to identify the projects they will recommend for GSA's FY 2004 budget. GSA said it expects to finalize this guidance by November 2002. Finally, GSA said its system that tracks building needs, which is currently being implemented, will focus on health and safety needs, which in turn will allow GSA to be more easily track and address these needs.

    Recommendation: GSA's Administrator should reexamine the weighting of health and safety criteria to ensure that sufficient priority is being given to funding repair and alteration projects that would prevent or resolve significant health and safety problems in federal buildings.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration


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