Fire-Safe Accommodations

Information on Federal Agencies' Compliance With P.L. 101-391 Lodging Requirements Gao ID: GGD-96-135 July 29, 1996

Because more than 400 Americans had lost their lives in multistory hotel fires during the preceding five years, in 1990 Congress passed the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act (P.L. 101-391), which seeks to save lives and protect property by promoting fire safety in hotels and motels. The legislation requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to compile a national master list of public accommodations that meet fire safety guidelines. Beginning in fiscal year 1995, federal agencies must ensure that their civilian employees on official travel spend a certain percentage of nights in these "approved" accommodations. Seventy-six of 96 federal agencies responded to GAO's request for information on their compliance with that requirement. Fifty-six agencies reported meeting or exceeding the 65-percent requirement. Six agencies reported that they did not meet that threshold. Fourteen agencies reported that, for various reasons, they did not gather the data needed to determine and report their approved accommodations percentage for fiscal year 1995. Twenty agencies did not respond to GAO's request for information.

GAO found that: (1) 76 federal departments and agencies responded to GAO information requests regarding their compliance with the act's approved accommodations percentage requirement for fiscal year (FY) 1995; (2) 56 agencies reported compliance rates that ranged from 65 to 100 percent and 6 agencies reported compliance rates that ranged from 46 to 64 percent; (3) the 6 noncomplying agencies cited a variety of reasons for not meeting the accommodations requirement, such as the unavailability of approved accommodations, recordkeeping problems, and employees' lack of awareness of the requirement; (4) 14 agencies said that they did not collect the data needed to determine their approved accommodations percentage for FY 1995; (5) these agencies cited inadequate financial management and accounting systems, widely dispersed employees and offices, the lack of a current list of approved accommodations or resources to gather the needed data, exemption from the requirement, and agency termination as reasons for not collecting the data; (6) 7 of the 14 agencies are establishing procedures to collect data for future compliance reports; (7) the agencies used various methods to determine their approved accommodations percentage rates; and (8) it could not report on the compliance of the 20 agencies that did not respond to the information request.

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