GSA's Cleaning Costs Are Needlessly Higher Than in the Private Sector

Gao ID: AFMD-81-78 August 24, 1981

GAO conducted a review of the office building cleaning services of the General Services Administration (GSA). By examining the productivity of GSA custodians and comparing their performance to that of private sector custodial firms, GAO was able to identify areas where improvement could yield important cost savings.

GSA is spending considerably more than necessary to clean Federal office space. GSA uses its own in-house cleaners, contracts for cleaning, and has cleaning provided by landlords. At the four regions studied, it costs GSA over 50 percent more to clean with its in-house staff than with contractors and nearly twice as much as its landlords pay to clean leased Federal offices. Low productivity and high wages are the primary causes for the cost differentials. GSA has taken little action to reduce in-house cleaning costs. It has not implemented the provisions of an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circular which requires GSA to contract for cleaning when it is more economical to do so. GSA has not completed any comparative cost studies nor improved the productivity of its in-house staff in preparation for the required comparative studies. GSA is only slowly converting to contract cleaning as attrition reduces its in-house custodial work force. GSA contractors are required to clean mainly during the day despite industry surveys which showed that night cleaning is 20 to 30 percent more productive. A GSA requirement that cleaning contractors provide a minimum number of staff hours on each contract to help ensure quality is not accomplishing its objective. It eliminates the incentive for contractors to improve productivity and save hours. Multiyear contracts would provide incentives for contractors to maximize efficiency and quality that the present 1-year contracts do not provide.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Brian L. Usilaner Team: General Accounting Office: Accounting and Financial Management Division Phone: (202) 275-1581

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