Comments on Proposed Legislation Referred to as Public Buildings Act Amendments of 1981]

Gao ID: B-202459 May 21, 1981

Proposed legislation would change the way the General Services Administration (GSA) conducts its public buildings program. It would authorize the Administrator of GSA to borrow from the Treasury Department amounts necessary to finance the acquisition or construction of any public building. This proposal is consistent with a past GAO recommendation that the GSA financing authority be limited to direct loans from either the Treasury or the Federal Financing Bank. Proposed legislation would require the Administrator to submit a report to Congress on proposed alterations in leased buildings that exceed $500,000. This requirement will give Congress the needed visibility and control over alterations in leased buildings. A subsection which provides that the Administrator may not lease space to accommodate major computer operations would also be added. Major computer operations should be located in Government-owned buildings. However, GSA may not be able to avoid locating computer operations in leased space. Leased space is generally acquired by negotiation rather than advertised sealed bids. An amendment would require the Administrator to publicly solicit competitive offers or bids for leased space. An amendment to require the Administrator to include more information on public building projects and leasing activities in the GSA annual report to Congress should provide Congress with a better overview and visibility over the entire public buildings program. Reconsideration should be given to an amendment which provides for a waiver of the 15 percent rental limitation contained in the Economy Act. An amendment would allow the total estimated project costs of construction and leases in excess of 5 years to be fully funded in the first year. GAO favors the concept because it more accurately discloses the total obligations associated with the project. Proposed legislation to amend the standard level user charges should be reexamined. A proposal which requires congressional approval of property acquired by exchanges is consistent with GAO recommendations.

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