Further Improvements to a Building Leased for the Social Security Administration Should Not Be Made if the Activities Will Be Consolidated Elsewhere

LCD-76-351: Published: Apr 6, 1977. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1977.

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GAO investigated the actual and proposed expenditures to improve the Social Security Administration's (SSA) building in New York City, the justifiability of a $3.6 million investment to improve to a building leased from an uncooperative landlord, and the possibility of saving money by consolidating office space into one building. The expenditures were for an experimental office landscaping project.

The landscaping experiment, which entailed restructuring the office space from closed areas to open areas delineated by movable screens and sound barriers, has cost $736,338. An incomplete evaluation report indicated that no further landscaping should be begun, but that certain aspects should be used elsewhere and that some employees in the landscaped area should be allowed to replace their specialized furniture with conventional furniture. SSA officials stated that although operations have not been impeded, the failure of the landlord to correct problems annoyed and inconvenienced the staff and required unnecesary management time to correct problems. A General Services Administration investigation indicated that the landlord was not uncooperative, just slow, and that there was no cause for breaking the lease. SSA stated that there was a need to consolidate personnel, now spread among five buildings, to improve work effectiveness, but no economic justification study has been done.

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