Transfers of Excess and Surplus Federal Personal Property--Impact of Public Law 94-519

LCD-80-101: Published: Sep 30, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1980.

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Public Law 94-519 significantly changed various Government policies and procedures on the transfer of excess and surplus Federal personal property to non-Federal organizations. The Law's objectives included restricting the transfer to non-Federal organizations of excess property that might be needed within the Federal Government, and encouraging the fair and equitable donation of surplus property to meet the needs of a wide range of eligible non-Federal organizations.

Much less excess property is now being transferred to non-Federal organizations and a greater portion is being transferred to Federal agencies for their use. There is a greater flow of surplus property to eligible donees. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the responsible State agencies appear to be reasonably effective in their efforts to distribute property fairly and equitably. However, improvements are needed to ensure that the property is managed and used as required by implementing regulations. In the management of the surplus property Donation Program, GAO found instances of failure of States to submit permanent, legislatively developed Donation Program plans of operation, as required by law. There were inconsistent and possibly excessive service charges assessed by State agencies, inadequate inventory control procedures, nonuse or improper use of property by donees, and insufficient audit and review of the Donation Program. The Law's provision concerning the return of excess property located overseas may restrict the Agency for International Development (AID) access to domestic property and property in Europe. The Law did not change the priorities of voluntary organizations regarding domestic or other foreign excesses. Recent congressional action will require the Department of Defense to recover greater costs for its surplus property. GAO believes that the imposition of a care and handling surcharge will result in reduced donee participation in the program.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: Congress should clarify what costs relating to donated property it wants recovered so that the costs will be handled consistently for Department of Defense and civil agency property.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require GSA personnel to review proposed transfers of excess property to Federal grantees thoroughly and to return, without approval, those which do not appear proper. These include any nonreimbursable transfers of common-use items to National Science Foundation grantees and any transfers to grantees whose eligibility apparently has expired or soon will. He should improve GSA procedures for allocating donable property among the States by requiring the GSA allocating regional offices to accumulate and use information on past allocation of highly desirable reportable items of property. This information should include for each type of item the quantity, acquisition cost, and condition of property previously allocated to each State. He should take the necessary actions, including establishment of timetables and penalties, to require all States to comply with the provisions of the Law, including: (1) submission of permanent, legislatively developed State plans of operation; (2) accomplishment of biennial external audits which include reviews of State Agency for Surplus Property compliance with the State plans of operation and applicable sections of the Federal Procurement Manual Regulations; (3) establishment of equitable service charges; (4) proper accountability for Federal property; and (5) proper use of property by donees. The heads of all Federal agencies which transfer excess personal property to their grantees should review their plans, policies, and procedures on such transfers and ensure that they fully comply with the applicable provisions of the Law and the implementing Federal Procurement Manual Regulations.

    Agency Affected:


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