Federal Workforce:

Agencies' Procurements of Private Health Club Services

GGD-92-66: Published: Apr 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1992.

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Nancy R. Kingsbury
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal agencies' procurement of private health club memberships for their employees, focusing on: (1) policies and controls over such procurements; (2) the extent and adequacy of existing governmentwide guidance pertaining to these procurements; and (3) the granting of administrative leave for employees to participate in physical fitness activities.

GAO found that: (1) 15 of 77 surveyed agencies reported having procured physical fitness services from a variety of facilities; (2) the annual federal funding for those procurements was about $970,000 and involved 4,287 participating employees, and the average cost per participating employee ranged from $12 to $644; (3) agencies' policies and controls over fitness facility procurements varied widely; (4) a significant number of agencies believed they needed further guidance on issues pertaining to fitness facility procurement, including employees' contribution to membership cost, provision of compensation under the Federal Employees Compensation Act, and controls needed to monitor employee attendance and use of facilities; (5) 25 agencies allowed employees to use administrative leave for participating in physical fitness activities, but their practices varied widely; and (6) in February 1992, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued draft guidance to departments and agencies recommending that they deny administrative leave for extended or indefinite periods of participation in such activities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM has implemented the report recommendation by issuing guidance to federal agencies. In June 1993, OPM issued FPM Letter 792-23, Employee Participation in Health and Fitness Activities. This guidance urges agencies to adopt a policy that would place responsibility on employees to use non-duty time when participating in health and fitness activities. Further, in response to the findings of the GAO report, OPM issued in September 1993, FPM Letter 792-25, Factors Agencies Should Consider When Providing Physical Fitness Programs for Employees. This letter provides policy guidance on a number of factors including: (1) employee contributions to the cost of agency-sponsored physical fitness programs; (2) agency procurement of access to private fitness facilities; and (3) agency reduction of the risk of injury and liability associated with physical fitness programs.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should work with participating federal agencies to identify and provide the additional guidance needed on the factors agencies should consider in providing physical fitness programs for employees.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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