Federal agencies need to better control their donations of excess property to non-federal entities, GAO has said, saying other agencies may be buying items “that they might have been able to obtain for free” from those disposing of property.
GAO examined practices for donating property—ranging from office furniture to laboratory equipment to heavy equipment—to state agencies, community organizations, educational institutions and other entities. Focusing on Agriculture, Energy and Labor, it found those departments have “limited insight into how these recipients used this property” and that the information that does exist is unreliable.
“Officials told GAO that some of the property was disposed of prematurely or not used at all. Such outcomes are inconsistent with agency policy. Whether these instances are widespread or uncommon is unknown due to a lack of consistent monitoring and oversight,” it said. It noted that a prior GSA study concluded that “using these authorities has reduced the amount of property that would otherwise be available to federal agencies or other recipients.”
GAO recommended improvements to oversight, monitoring and data quality, saying that until such changes are made, “it will be hard to understand the scope of property provided to non-federal recipients and assess the effects on the federal government’s disposal process, such as whether federal agencies and other recipients may be missing opportunities to obtain property.”