A Central Management Agency Needing Comprehensive Congressional Oversight

T-GGD-92-3: Published: Oct 29, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1991.

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GAO discussed the performance of the General Services Administration (GSA). GAO noted that: (1) since GSA was established, it has been torn between an internal dynamic that favors a centralized approach to the direct delivery of services to agency customers and a largely external expectation that its primary role should be to oversee decentralized operations within the departments and agencies; (2) all but the smallest of federal agencies are capable of working with the private sector to acquire and maintain the office space, computers, supplies and services that they need; (3) a central management agency is still needed, since decentralized operations require a long-term strategy, common policies, consistent and knowledgeable guidance from market and technical specialists, coordination to prevent competition among agencies, and comprehensive reporting and oversight so that Congress can hold the executive branch accountable for efficient performance; (4) GSA has not adopted two recent GAO recommendations concerning the development of a strategic approach for management of the government's financial assets and assuming an oversight and a more policy-oriented role; (5) Congress has not devoted comprehensive and sustained attention to GSA; and (6) for the proposed legislation regarding regular and sustained congressional oversight of GSA to be effective, the focus of reauthorization should be on holding GSA accountable for defining and achieving a number of key strategic goals and objectives over a longer period than a single year.

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