Coast Guard:

Housing Acquisition Needs Have Not Been Adequately Justified

RCED-92-159: Published: May 19, 1992. Publicly Released: May 19, 1992.

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Kenneth M. Mead
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Coast Guard's nine housing acquisition projects from 1990 through 1992 to determine whether the Coast Guard followed requirements to: (1) demonstrate the existence of a housing shortage; (2) ensure that it selects the least costly alternative for providing housing to its members; and (3) periodically reassess the local housing market.

GAO found that the Coast Guard: (1) did not adequately analyze the local housing markets to demonstrate that housing shortages existed and did not support statements about high rental costs or insufficient housing availability with cost or commuting data; (2) did not demonstrate how some of the data it included in project files supported its conclusions for approving housing acquisition projects; (3) failed to develop cost data to compare leasing, purchasing, and construction alternatives; (4) excluded some costs or used different costs and discount rates in its estimates for constructing or purchasing housing; (5) attributed such errors to the lack of detailed housing guidelines, inexperienced housing officials, and a shortage of planning personnel; and (6) typically approved housing acquisition projects 3 years before receiving funding, but did not follow requirements to periodically reassess local conditions to ensure that the housing need still existed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Coast Guard now requires market analyses for housing planning proposals and pending projects. It also conducted comparable cost analysis and market studies for all pending and future housing projects. In addition, it has implemented measures to revalidate approved housing projects at least every 2 years.

    Recommendation: To assist the Coast Guard in making more informed housing acquisition decisions in the future, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to comply with the requirements in the housing manual by: (1) analyzing the local community's housing market and relating market availability to specific housing needs; (2) evaluating all housing alternatives and using complete and comparable cost analyses; and (3) periodically reassessing the need for housing during the housing acquisition process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Coast Guard has re-emphasized the need for its units to follow the policies and procedures prescribed by its housing manual.

    Recommendation: For current projects not yet under contract, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to delay purchase or construction decisions until the Coast Guard complies with policies and procedures required by its housing manual.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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