General Services Administration:

Impact of Overestimation of Rental Revenue on the Federal Buildings Fund

GGD-98-183: Published: Aug 17, 1998. Publicly Released: Aug 17, 1998.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the General Services Administration's (GSA) actions in responding to and managing the recent funding problems experienced by its Federal Buildings Fund (FBF), focusing on: (1) verifying, to the extent practical, the amounts GSA attributed to each reason for overstimation of the FBF rental revenue projections for fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1998; (2) whether the Public Buildings Service's corrective actions appeared to address GSA's identified reasons for the overestimation; and (3) budgetary impact of the overestimation on projects and programs in the FBF.

GAO noted that: (1) GSA informed Congress that it expected the total overestimation of rental revenue for fiscal years 1996 and 1997 to be $847 million; (2) GAO verified, to the extent practical given available support, six of GSA's identified seven reasons for the overestimation and the linkage of specific dollar amounts of the overestimation to each of the six reasons; (3) GSA was unable to provide documentation showing how it developed the $86 million it attributed to the remaining reason--the fiscal year (FY) 1995 rent revenue estimate being higher than actual revenues; (4) GAO and others identified several weaknesses in GSA's rental revenue estimation process, such as the lack of documented policy and procedures for the rental revenue estimation process and the lack of supporting documentation necessary to verify forecast information and assumptions; (5) GSA has taken or plans to take corrective actions that, if effectively implemented, should help improve future rental revenue estimates; (6) for FY 1997, GSA took action to prevent the overobligation of FBF revenue by creating a reserve to ensure that obligational authority totalling $680.5 million would not be used until revenue was available to cover those obligations; (7) this action had the potential to affect the projects and programs from which obligational authority was withheld; (8) recent statements by GSA and Office of Management and Budget officials indicated that the impact of the rent estimating problem on the FBF will be resolved by actions taken through the FY 1998 budget; (9) although the $680.5 million appropriated in FY 1998 replenishes the $680.5 million to prior projects, GAO does not believe it necessarily mitigates the effects of not funding GSA's proposed FY 1998 program of new construction and modernization work; (10) GSA has stated that the overestimation problem contributed to a reduction in funding for building operations and basic building repair and alteration; and (11) this reduction could also result in changes in future costs for the same reasons previously mentioned as well as increased repair costs due to more extensive deterioration over time.

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