Protection and Prompt Disposal Can Prevent Destruction of Excess Facilities in Alaska

Gao ID: LCD-80-96 September 12, 1980

Federal agencies have not protected and maintained facilities which they have built on lands withdrawn from the public domain in Alaska and no longer need. Long delays in the disposal process and the lack of protection have allowed property improvements to suffer extensive deterioration and vandalism. The Bureau of Land Management determines if the land is suitable for return to the public domain. If it has been changed substantially by improvements, the Bureau requests the General Services Administration (GSA) to dispose of the property. GAO reviewed five cases with improvements costing over $23 million.

Some deteriorated facilities have become safety and health hazards and continually project an image of Government waste. GAO found that the facilities had been extensively damaged by vandals and the elements. Untimely actions by the holding agencies and the Bureau delay the disposal of excess properties. Some agencies have abandoned properties before reporting them as excess, and others have taken years to decide whether properties not in use should be declared excess. The Bureau has not actively pursued the processing of property disposals, as their resources are allocated to the problems of conveying lands to native Alaskans and to the State of Alaska. GAO believes that a major factor contributing to delays in the disposal process is a lack of incentives to ensure timely action. Bureau regulations do not require that disposals be completed within a specified time, and the Bureau is not responsible for protecting and maintaining property when delays occur. The cost of protecting excess properties may be prohibitive, unnecessary, and a burden on the holding agency. In such cases, the property should be destroyed according to regulations.


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