The Department of State Has Continuing Problems in Managing Real Estate Overseas

ID-78-16: Published: Jul 12, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1978.

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The Department of State's Office of Foreign Buildings is responsible for acquiring, constructing, selling, maintaining, and operating about $3 billion worth of government-owned and leased properties in 215 cities and 135 countries.

The overseas construction program is not effective because of a lack of reliable, long-range planning; poor cost estimating; external pressures; and insufficient technical personnel. Management of employee housing is fragmented and lacks adequate criteria, centralized review, and a uniform policy. This results in higher costs because employees are provided with housing that exceeds space standards and living quarters allowances. Properties are not properly maintained and managed because of a lack of qualified personnel to make inspections, weak maintenance criteria, and deficient information used by managers. In spite of plans to establish a real property management information system, the Office had not established a reliable system 8 years after GAO expressed concerns on this subject. It is estimated that it will be least 5 more years before such a system is operational. A recent appointment of a new Office of Foreign Buildings' Director offers the opportunity for improved management.

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