Repairs and Alterations of Public Buildings by General Services Administration--Better Congressional Oversight and Control Is Possible

LCD-78-335: Published: Mar 21, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1979.

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From 1961 through 1977, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation (Public Works Committees) had approved 276 prospectuses for major repairs and alterations projects. The General Services Administration (GSA), which manages a major repairs and alterations program for public buildings, must obtain approval from the Public Works Committees for each project estimated to cost over $500,000.

For several years backlog of major repairs and alterations has been about $1 billion. In the past 4 years, GSA has spent only about 45 to 50 percent of repair funds on large projects. Moreover, a substantial amount was spent for projects not specifically identified in any of the recent work programs supporting the agency's annual request for repair funds. GSA and the Public Works Committees seem to have a significant misunderstanding regarding the nature and scope of repair work requiring the Committees' approval. GSA has spent over $1 million on each of a number of public buildings without having requested approval of the Committees, and has used the authority of approvals to do work that was not described in the scope approved.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: The House and Senate Public Works Committees should: initiate proposed legislation to amend the Public Buildings Act of 1959 to define the term "project" to include all related work required for a single building; initiate proposed legislation to require GSA to revise its procedures to have prospectuses submitted for approval on reimbursable work projects when such projects include general building improvements estimated to cost over $500,000; require GSA to justify to the Committees prospectus projects that have been either approved or funded and have not been completed after a number of years; and determine and advise GSA as to what extent certain costs for work classified as maintenance could be considered alterations and should be included in prospectuses. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees should propose that Congress provide funds for each prospectus project over $500,000 together with the authority to transfer funds to other projects, provided the Appropriations Committees are notified in advance of any transfer. An alternative method would be to require GSA to make a complete accounting at the end of each fiscal year of its use of funds obtained. Funds for projects under $500,000 should be provided on a lump sum basis and GSA should identify funds to be earmarked for major and minor projects.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should: revalidate prospectuses approved prior to fiscal year 1973, in order to cancel or revise those that are outdated; have prospectuses approved or submit prospectuses to the Public Works Committees before the budgets are submitted for projects over $500,000; and seek an agreement with the Public Works Committees on the type and extent of changes in the scope of prospectuses which require approval of the Committees.

    Agency Affected:


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