Downsizing and Space:

Updated Information on Agencies' Actions and Plans to Reduce Space Available Through Downsizing

GGD-97-108R: Published: Jul 18, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1997.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided an update to information it provided in 1995 regarding: (1) the General Services Administration's (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) actions to develop a governmentwide strategy for managing space reduction opportunities through downsizing; and (2) GSA's, OMB's, and 10 other executive agencies' individual actions to reduce unneeded or underutilized space available through the downsizing of these agencies.

GAO noted that: (1) its 1995 letter, issued early in the government's downsizing process, stated that neither GSA nor OMB had developed a governmentwide strategy specifically for managing reductions of space no longer needed because of federal workforce downsizing;(2) GAO's current review disclosed that neither GSA nor OMB had developed such a strategy--GSA because it did not believe one is needed, and OMB because it believes that management of federal space is GSA's responsibility; (3) neither GSA nor OMB knows how much space agencies have reduced through downsizing nor how much space is unneeded or underutilized because of downsizing; (4) GSA has recognized the need to improve its overall management of the government's space, but it does not believe that a separate strategy for managing space from downsizing is necessary; (5) GSA has taken several steps that it believes will improve its ability to manage the government's owned and leased properties and that could help reduce unneeded and underutilized space; (6) OMB acknowledged that space is costly, and its budget examiners often do not give the issue of space cost reduction opportunities the attention it needs because these costs do not have the high profile of other costs and programs in the budget; (7) OMB believes that GSA is the principal agency responsible for overseeing space management issues governmentwide and that GSA is taking the steps necessary to better position itself to more effectively manage space reduction opportunities; (8) GAO's 1995 letter pointed out that GSA, OMB, and the other 10 executive branch agencies had either undertaken proactive space management approaches or were awaiting the outcome of other issues prior to beginning agency-specific space management initiatives; (9) for the current review, the 12 agencies reported that they were in different stages of downsizing and of identifying and implementing space and cost reductions; (10) eight agencies reported that annual cost reductions of about $68 million had been achieved by reducing space, while three other agencies reported that space and cost reductions totalling nearly $34 million annually were in process; and (11) 5 of the 12 agencies reported that they expected future savings of nearly $31 million from space reductions, and 6 agencies said they expected future space reductions but did not provide a dollar estimate of the savings.

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