GSA Is Overly Restrictive in Its Implementation of the National Urban Policy in Fort Smith, Arkansas

LCD-80-26: Published: Dec 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Dec 6, 1979.

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GAO was requested to review the General Services Administration (GSA) proposal to relocate five Federal agencies in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to a single location in the downtown business district. The review covered (1) an evaluation of the rationale and criteria used to make the decision, (2) the procurement procedures followed to acquire the space, (3) the cost of relocating the agencies as compared to their remaining at their present locations, and (4) an evaluation of the accessibility to the public of the proposed location.

Because existing regulations do not include criteria on the cost effectiveness of relocating agencies to the central part of cities, GSA decisions on relocation do not consider the cost of relocation to the Government. No existing buildings in the central business district could provide sufficient space to meet consolidated space requirements. When newly constructed space was sought GSA found only four sites available in in the central business district on which a building could be erected. Only one offer was received on the space procurement. The GSA cost analysis made after the decision to relocate the agencies was made, revealed that relocation to the downtown area would cost about 10 percent more annually than if the agencies remained in their present locations. The GAO review indicated that the costs to consolidate downtown would be about 40 percent more annually. If located in the central business district, the agencies would be less accessible to the public when compared to their present locations. There is no public transportation in Fort Smith, and parking downtown is a major problem. Agency clients preferred the present suburban locations. Further, the downtown location could create a hardship for the aged and the handicapped due to the insufficient parking space and the lack of public transportation. GSA needs to improve its criteria for determining the locations of Federal agencies by requiring a cost comparison of the various location possibilities. The impact which a location has on an agency's ability to carry out its mission should be considered.

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