Acquisition of Land for Postal Facility in Tyler, Texas

GGD-81-14: Published: Oct 17, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1980.

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GAO investigated allegations that the U.S. Postal Service paid at least three times the market value for land it acquired for a new postal facility. GAO inquired into the Postal Service's rationale for selecting the site rather than less costly land offered to the Service.

GAO found some evidence that the price paid for the land might have been high, but the Postal Service analysis and an independent appraisal valued the land at approximately the price paid. GAO does question the Service's basis for increasing the value of the selected site above the valuation assigned by the independent appraisal to allow for payment of the seller's full asking price. The Service may not have given adequate consideration to other tracts of land that were offered at less cost. The Service's limited documentation justified the site selection but prevented a conclusive determination of whether the Service gave adequate consideration to less expensive tracts of land that would appear to have been suitable for this postal facility. The preferred area was selected because of its proximity to a highway which would facilitate mail processing operations, and its proximity to a station which will be closed when the new facility is completed. The selected site was preferred because of its accessibility to customers and lack of operating problems. Cost did not appear to be the primary factor in the selection. The only documentation available as to why a less expensive site was not selected was a comment about ingress-egress problems, which could have been solved. On review of the appraisal report, Post Office officials disagreed with the contract appraiser's opinion and increased the appraised value by $13,000 for plottage. This adjustment allowed the Service to pay the full asking price for the selected site.

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