Federal Manager's Daily Report

Federal agencies are required by law to continuously assess their personal property–such as office furniture, scientific equipment, and industrial machinery–to determine if they have an excess and to promptly dispose of it but in many cases the issue draws attention only when an event such as an office space reduction triggers it, GAO has said.

It said the five agencies it reviewed–EPA, IRS, HUD, Forest Service and GSA–“generally do not have policies or processes for identifying unneeded personal property on a proactive basis…  Without such policies or processes, agencies may not be routinely identifying unneeded property that could be used elsewhere, and efforts to maximize federal personal property use and minimize unnecessary storage costs may not be effective,” a report said.

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GSA officials said the agency lacks the authority to issue regulations or formal guidance on management of in-use agency property, and there is no government-wide guidance to agencies on identifying unneeded personal property, GAO said.

GAO added that where an effort is made to identify excess–such as during office consolidations or under a 2012 initiative to reduce office and warehouse space–agencies have little difficulty in following GSA’s disposal process. Excess personal property typically is transferred to other agencies, donated to certain authorized organizations or to state governments, or discarded.

GAO recommended that OMB issue guidance to agencies emphasizing the requirement to continuously review and identify unneeded personal property; OMB did not comment.