Feds Drag Their Feet on Real Property Management Reform

From Government Executive:

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. “The government’s vast and diverse portfolio of real property reflects an infrastructure based on the business model and technological environment of the 1950s,” GAO auditors found. They reported that many government real property assets do not mesh with agencies’ changing missions, and are therefore unnecessary. Furthermore, upkeep and operating costs for empty buildings cost the government billions of dollars annually, while ownership of the buildings ties up financial resources that could be better utilized elsewhere, the auditors concluded. They cited data from GAO’s 2003 report on the topic that found the Defense Department was spending an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion annually on maintenance for unneeded buildings.