General Services Administration:

Efforts to Communicate About Asbestos Abatement Not Always Effective

GGD-92-28: Published: Jan 16, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 16, 1992.

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J. William Gadsby
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the General Service Administration's (GSA) efforts to communicate with and notify tenant agencies about asbestos abatement projects in federal buildings.

GAO found that: (1) during fiscal years (FY) 1990 and 1991, GSA efforts to communicate with tenant agencies about asbestos abatement projects in the 15 federal buildings reviewed varied in effectiveness; (2) GSA communication was generally reactive at 10 of the 15 buildings, and effective communication occurred only after tenant agency employees complained about the lack of timely and adequate information on abatement projects or regular communication about project progress; (3) tenant agency employees for the other five buildings had fewer complaints and were generally satisfied with the communication process, because GSA provided information at the beginning and throughout the course of the projects; (4) GSA communication efforts may have varied because GSA had limited oversight of the communication process and had vague guidance on how to communicate about asbestos abatement; (5) GSA did not actively monitor the project communication process and instead depended on the limited information it obtained during biennial safety and environmental evaluations, telephone calls, and tenant complaints; and (6) in April 1991, GSA revised its principal communication guidance to emphasize the importance of early and continuing communication and identified specific steps for the asbestos coordinators to follow when communicating with tenant agency employees.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO will close this recommendation because GSA staff have completed all planned actions. GSA's audit resolution group closed the recommendation and is not pushing for additional action. GAO has concerns about the adequacy of GSA's actions, but a new job would be required to get GSA to do more.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should establish an oversight process to determine: (1) the adequacy of current guidance on communication about asbestos abatement with tenant agencies; and (2) whether tenant agency employees are satisfied with the communication process.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration


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