S.2080, To Establish Public Buildings Policies and Public Buildings Service

Gao ID: 111426 January 29, 1980

Legislation has been proposed which would revise the way the General Services Administration (GSA) conducts its public buildings program. It would revise the method of financing building construction, reduce the number of federal employees in leased space, and require emphasis on, and disclosure of the long range planning of the GSA buildings program. The legislation would authorize GSA to borrow funds from the Treasury to finance acquisition, construction, and renovation of public buildings as recommended in an earlier GAO report. Under provisions of the legislation, GSA would make an annual payment of interest and amortization of principal on money it borrows from the Treasury. The total amount of the borrowings would not be recorded as budget authority in the first year. Rather, the annual payment each year would be recorded as budget authority over the 30 years. GAO preferred recording the total project cost as budget authority in the first year. The legislation would provide that rental charges paid by agencies to GSA would be established at the level of anticipated costs of providing space and services including amortized construction or leasing costs. This could further impair the Federal Building Fund's ability to meet operating and capital requirements since rent income on government-owned, fully amortized buildings would be reduced. GAO felt that this portion of the legislation should be reexamined and restated. The legislation would set limits on leasing as a way of emphasizing a more viable federal construction program. This was in line with the GAO view that leasing was the least desirable alternative of acquiring space. The bill would require GSA to submit a program for construction, renovation, acquisition, maintenance, and leasing for the next fiscal year together with a 5-year plan for accommodating federal agency needs. GAO felt this would be an improvement over the current procedures. The legislation prohibits the leasing of space to accommodate major computer operations, a move supported by GAO.

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