Knoxville Expo '82:

Why Changes Are Needed in Law on Reuse of U.S. Pavilions at International Expositions

PLRD-81-11: Published: Mar 20, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1981.

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An international exposition on energy, Expo 82, will be hosted by Knoxville, Tennessee. GAO was requested to review the bidding practices associated with the Knoxville International Energy Exposition. Work being done by the Department of Commerce was reviewed, and officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Urban Development Action Grant office were interviewed. HUD officials were responsible for reviewing and approving the grants made to Knoxville for Expo 82.

Although the General Services Administration (GSA) and Commerce worked together initially in planning for the residual use of the U.S. pavilion at Expo 82, a firm federal reuse plan never materialized.Without one, construction of a permanent-type pavilion is not justified. However, the law does not specify that a less costly, temporary pavilion should be built when no such plan exists. In 1976, GAO had recommended that a temporary structure be built when a firm federal reuse plan had not been developed. Commerce's decision to continue building a more costly permanent facility was not a prudent use of federal funds. The sponsors of Expo 82 were late in putting together an adequate financial plan. As a result, Commerce had to delay its request for authorizing and funding legislation. Because of insufficient leadtime, GSA declined to manage the construction, and Commerce had to hire a construction manager and overlap the design and construction phases. The pavilion has had items deleted to meet cost limitations and tight time schedules. Department of Energy officials say that the pavilion will not demonstrate energy technology advancement as originally planned. Competitive bidding was not required for the seven projects leveraged with an action grant, but HUD has included a limitation on profits in the grant agreement. GAO could not determine the amount of profits that will be realized by the developers and the subcontractors, because only limited contract awards had been made at the time of its review.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Matter: Congress should amend section 3(c) of Public Law 91-269.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should disclose to Congress in the justification for authorization and appropriation of funds whether sufficient leadtime is available to design and build a permanent pavilion using conventional contracting procedures. If the leadtime is insufficient but a permanent facility is warranted, Commerce should disclose the basis for its decision and the extra cost that will be incurred.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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