General Services Administration Should Do More To Avoid Foundation Construction Problems

LCD-78-334: Published: Sep 19, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1978.

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Problems during site excavation and foundation construction for Federal buildings have troubled the General Services Administration (GSA) since the early 1960's. Since 1973, GSA has paid contractors over $16 million for extra costs caused by site excavation and foundation construction problems. Outstanding claims against GSA for similar problems total $6.8 million. Years of project delays and millions of dollars in additional leasing and administrative costs have resulted from these problems.

Until recently, GSA had placed little emphasis on reducing the severity of or avoiding foundation problems. A geotechnical expert had been hired in 1967, but the position was abolished in 1968 despite a 1967 report recommending hiring such an expert. A March 1976 report cited recurring deficiencies and recommended revisions to GSA's foundation construction criteria, specifications, and guidelines. Not all of the recommendations have been implemented, and improvements are still needed in the crucial areas of site selection and inspection during foundation construction. GSA needs a staff geotechnical engineer participating in site selection to prevent risks associated with foundation construction. More emphasis on data obtained in soil tests is needed, and frequent testing and inspection during foundation construction are vital.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The GSA should: (1) require staff geotechnical experts to participate in foundation construction inspections when appropriate; and (2) evaluate ways to obtain geotechnical expertise at the regional office level, including getting geotechnical experts from other Federal agencies to participate in foundation construction inspections when appropriate.

    Agency Affected:


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