Norfolk Customhouse

Information Relating to Customs' Occupancy of the Historic Customhouse Gao ID: GGD-86-82FS June 6, 1986

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed an agreement between the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Customs Service to renovate the customhouse in Norfolk, Virginia.

Customs has a policy of attempting to retain historic customhouses such as the one in Norfolk, and prefers to renovate existing customhouses to meet its requirements rather than to relocate its local operations. GAO found that: (1) after several years of discussions, GSA and Customs agreed in 1981 to renovate the Norfolk customhouse instead of relocating Customs' Norfolk operations; (2) GSA uncertainty over Customs' subsequent decisions to reorganize its Norfolk operations led GSA to defer the renovation project several times; (3) in 1984, GSA and Customs decided to relocate Customs' Norfolk operations and dispose of the customhouse in concert with city development efforts; and (4) in 1985, GSA and Customs again reversed their decision and began to plan to renovate the customhouse. GAO also found that GSA: (1) plans to spend $300,000 in 1987 to upgrade the customhouse's electrical system; (2) estimates that the renovation will cost $3.1 million, but has not yet developed a renovation plan; and (3) has ceased its attempts to lease space for Customs' Norfolk operations.

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