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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Report: Agencies making little progress in tracking real property

"Two years after President Bush issued an executive order on reforming management of real property, federal agencies have made little progress in accounting for their holdings or ensuring they are aligned with needs and missions, according to congressional auditors.

In testimony prepared for a hearing held Monday (GAO-06-248T), Mark L. Goldstein, director of physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office, said that real property management continues to be a 'high-risk area' for agencies.

Another obstacle to eliminating unused buildings is that agencies typically see few incentives to address the problem, said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, on Monday.

"The statutory hoops an agency must jump through in order to get rid of property make it almost impossible to dump a property," Coburn said. An agency can only sell a building after offering it at below market rates to non-profit groups and state and local governments, he said, and in most cases the proceeds of such a sale must be turned over to the Treasury Department. "

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