While agencies are under orders to address risks to their properties such as climate change, they have not been explicitly directed to incorporate natural disaster resilience into asset management decisions, GAO has said in recommending that they be required to do so.
“As the owner of real property assets, federal agencies can enhance the natural disaster resilience of real property through asset management. This can include actions to prepare for disasters,” a report said.
GAO said that the four agencies it studied in detail—the Army Corps of Engineers, GSA, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service which among them own more than 100,000 buildings and other structures—have taken some actions to incorporate resilience to natural disasters into their assets through processes used to make portfolio-wide decisions. For example, it said a FWS facility in Texas has been “able to sustain multiple hurricanes” because it was rebuilt to exceed design standards, with elevated concrete piers and an upgraded roof.
However, GAO said that while a January executive order told agencies to develop a climate action plan describing their vulnerabilities neither that order nor OMB guidance under it require agencies to use the information collected to make investment decisions. Using information such as such as vulnerability assessments “can help agencies determine if an investment in assets to enhance resilience could provide the most value to the agencies in meeting their missions when compared to other potential investments,” it said.
It said OMB had no comment on its recommendation.