Department of Energy:

Management of Excess Property

RCED-99-3: Published: Nov 4, 1998. Publicly Released: Dec 4, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to identify and dispose of property that is excess to its needs, focusing on the: (1) criteria the Department uses to guide the identification and disposal of excess property; (2) extent to which the Department's property records reflect what is no longer needed to carry out its missions; and (3) challenges the Department believes exist in identifying excess property and the innovative approaches being used to dispose of this property.

GAO noted that: (1) federal property management regulations include criteria to determine when real property is excess to an agency's needs; (2) however, neither federal property management regulations nor DOE's regulations and guidance include specific criteria to determine when personal property is no longer needed; (3) when property has been identified as excess, guidelines for the disposal process are well defined for both real and personal property; (4) DOE's property records do not consistently provide information that would help identify property that is no longer needed; (5) recent changes to DOE's regulations require that property records identify property that has already been determined to be excess; (6) in July 1998, DOE modified its real property records system to identify property that has been determined to be excess; (7) this system also provides additional information, such as the percentage of a facility currently in use, that could be used to identify other property that is no longer needed; (8) similarly, in May 1998, DOE revised its personal property management regulations to require that contractors' records include information on current usage, such as categorizing property as active, in storage, or excess; (9) however, these regulations do not provide criteria for determining when personal property should be placed in these categories; (10) DOE acknowledges problems with its identification and disposal of excess real and personal property; (11) Department officials cited, for example, a lack of funding for the environmental cleanup of the current inventory of excess real property and a lack of incentives to identify property as excess; (12) because the costs associated with the maintenance and storage of unneeded property are generally not separately identified, little incentive exists to spend the resources necessary to dispose of it; and (13) regardless of the problems, field and program offices have developed some innovative approaches to dispose of property, such as including a performance-based incentive in the site management contract to encourage the contractor operating the site to dispose of excess property during the fiscal year.

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