Delegated Leasing Authority:

Review of Selected Leases and Information on GSA's Changes to Delegation Procedures

GAO-16-716R: Published: Sep 27, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 2016.

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David J. Wise
(202) 512-2834


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What GAO Found

GAO reviewed leases executed by four federal agencies using a delegation of authority from the General Services Administration (GSA) and determined that 42 of 45 leases complied with a selected set of requirements. The remaining 3 leases, all from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), met 4 of the 5 requirements.  GAO raised questions about the scope of the contracting officers’ authorization to execute the leases. GAO asked FWS to provide clarifying information but GAO did not receive the information it would need to come to a legal determination.

GSA has made organizational, policy, and data system changes to address problems previously identified in 2007 by GAO and GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) with GSA’s management and oversight of delegations of authority. For example, GSA centralized its management and oversight of delegations of leasing authority and introduced process management software. GSA also updated guidance in 2007 and 2014 that introduced new requirements for agencies using delegations of authority. For example, for certain types of delegations of 2,500 or more square feet, agencies must obtain GSA approval and provide lease documentation to GSA.

Why GAO Did This Study

Federal real property management is on GAO’s high-risk list due to complex and long-standing issues, including an overreliance on costly leasing.  Federal agencies spend billions annually to lease many types of properties, ranging from office space and laboratories to aircraft hangars and boat docks.  A delegation of leasing authority allows an agency to lease property directly by performing the functions that GSA would otherwise do.  However, there are previously identified problems with these delegations of leasing authority.  For example, in 2007 GAO and GSA’s OIG reported on problems with GSA’s management and oversight of these and other types of delegations. GAO was asked to review the roles of GSA and federal agencies in managing federal real property.

This report discusses the (1) the extent to which, for selected leases, agencies complied with certain requirements of GSA’s delegated leasing authority and (2) how GSA has addressed problems identified in 2007 by GAO and the GSA OIG regarding GSA’s management and oversight of delegations of leasing authority.  GAO reviewed 45 leases from four selected case-study agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the United States Department of Agriculture; FWS in the Department of the Interior; and the National Institutes of Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The reviewed leases were executed under a delegation of authority from fiscal years 2011 to 2015 and examined to determine compliance with real property management statutes and regulations. GAO compared each lease to a selected set of requirements (i.e., square footage; lease term; prospectus threshold (annual rental rate); scope of contracting officer’s authority; and location or address of property) based on statute, regulation, or corresponding GSA delegation letter. GAO also reviewed GSA guidance and other relevant documentation and interviewed GSA officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making any recommendations.

For more information, contact David J. Wise at (202) 512-2834 or

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