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Monday, September 21, 2009

Government management of real property improves slightly, report says

Agencies shed less than 1 percent of their total real property assets in fiscal 2008, according to the Federal Real Property Report released on Monday.

The annual report, produced by the interagency Federal Real Property Council, said the federal government's fiscal 2008 real property profile consists of almost 896,000 buildings and structures, with a total area of 3.29 billion square feet and more than 41 million acres of land.

The slight decrease in assets and area in fiscal 2008 from the previous year can be attributed to a number of factors, including the disposal of 24,682 assets in fiscal 2008, space consolidation efforts and improved data collection and reporting quality.

The report showed that agencies continue to struggle with finding the proper use of their real property, among other issues. Fifty-three percent of the 268,000 buildings that reported data were being properly used. Slightly less than one-third of the federal facilities were being overused, while 13 percent were underemployed and 7 percent were not being used at all.

Management of real property has been a challenge for the government. In January 2003, the Government Accountability Office put the issue on its high-risk list because of "long-standing problems with excess and underutilized property, deteriorating facilities, unreliable real property data and overreliance on costly leasing."

GAO repeatedly has reported that the federal real property portfolio reflects an outdated business model based on the technological and transportation environment of the 1950s. With guidance and assistance from the Office of Management and Budget, agencies have tried to improve real property management.

-Elizabeth Newell, GovExec.com

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