The Department of State's Management of Real Estate Overseas

Gao ID: 106551 July 13, 1978

The State Department is responsible for acquiring, constructing, selling, maintaining, and operating about $3 billion worth of U.S. Government-owned and leased properties in 215 cities and 135 countries. Responsibilities are divided among the Office of Foreign Buildings (FBO), departmental bureaus, and the overseas missions. Management is fragmented, and there has been ineffective use of construction funds, increasingly higher housing costs, inadequate maintenance, and unreliable real-property information. Decisions made by FBO have not been cost effective because of a lack of sound long-range planning, poor cost estimating, external pressures, and insufficient technical personnel. The management system for overseas housing does not provide adequate criteria for the size and cost of housing or a centralized review and uniform housing policy. Employees are often provided with housing that exceeds reasonable space standards and living quarters allowances. Properties are not maintained and managed properly because of a lack of qualified personnel to make inspections, weak maintenance criteria, and deficiencies in information used by managers. A reliable real-property management information system is not yet in effect in spite of FBO plans and GAO work on this subject more than 8 years ago. Recommendations made to correct the deficiencies included establishing sound maintenance criteria and priorities, cost information, and followup procedures needed to maintain the properties.

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