Transfer of the General Accounting Office Building

Gao ID: T-ACG/OPS-88-1 August 3, 1988

GAO discussed H.R. 5052, a bill that would transfer the custody and control of the General Accounting Office's (GAO) headquarters building from the General Services Administration (GSA) to GAO. GAO noted that: (1) it currently budgets for and pays rent through GSA, which performs routine building maintenance and capital improvements to the extent that funding and priorities permit; (2) although it is part of the legislative branch, it is subject to executive branch resource and priority limitations; (3) the conflict is further strained because it is required to audit GSA and make decisions that affect the physical conditions and priorities under which it works; (4) although GSA has worked to remove asbestos and renovate the building since the 1970s, at the current pace, GSA will require an additional 12 to 15 years to complete the project at a cost of $70 million to $80 million; (5) it could perform normal maintenance and fund the asbestos removal and modernization with its current annual rent of $19 million; and (6) improved audit effectiveness and rental savings would result from consolidation of staff that are currently co-located neither with the agencies they audit nor with their managers. GAO believes that its independence from the executive branch budget and priority setting would: (1) allow it to set its facilities priorities subject only to congressional oversight and jurisdiction; and (2) enable it to improve efficiency and effectiveness by accelerating building modernization and asbestos removal and consolidating its audit activities.

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