The chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee underscored the findings of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the leasing of federal facilities to promote legislation intended to jump start the disposal of surplus buildings by the federal government.
The GAO report calls on the General Services Administration (GSA) to improve how it operates leasing and capital planning programs by providing greater transparency and better management of high-value leases.
“Today’s GAO report highlights the fact that there isn’t nearly enough transparency or clear guidance when it comes to GSA’s real property strategy and how leased properties are managed,” Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in a statement issued jointly with ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), reported the Washington Post.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Carper added. “Given the sheer amount of property that our government manages, it should come as no surprise that we could be doing a better job of saving taxpayer money.”
The congressional watchdog agency found that GSA’s lease prospectuses lack transparency on key information that would help decision makers determine whether it would be more economical to lease or purchase space. The agency also found that GSA does not have a capital plan for transitioning long-term leasing obligations into federally owned space, which could potentially save the federal government millions of dollars.
“This report shows the GSA — like Congress — fails in planning for the long term,” Coburn said. “Chairman Carper and I have introduced bipartisan legislation that would address many of the concerns outlined by GAO.”
The 2013 Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act, introduced in July, would help federal agencies dispose surplus federal buildings and require agencies to identify properties that are suitable for consolidation or co-location of operations, actions which could help reduce the federal leasing portfolio. The bill also establishes an interagency Federal Real Property Council that would develop a strategy to reduce agencies’ reliance on leased space for long-term needs when ownership would be less costly.