Federal Manager's Daily Report

New recommendations include setting building utilization benchmarks to help agencies “identify and reduce underutilized office space. Image: OmerYontar/Shutterstock.com

The new version of GAO’s annual report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication in federal programs adds 42 new areas of concern, including several related to management of federal property and personnel.

New recommendations include setting building utilization benchmarks to help agencies “identify and reduce underutilized office space, which could save ten million dollars or more over 5 years.” That is a follow-up to a report from last year finding that two dozen headquarters buildings were 25 percent or less occupied on average, a report cited in numerous proposals pending in Congress to reduce the federal building footprint.

GAO further said that agencies “could save one hundred million dollars or more by using predictive models to make investment decisions on deferred maintenance and repair for federal buildings and structures.” That reflects a separate report from last year showing that estimated costs of addressing deferred maintenance at four departments studied had nearly doubled over 2017-2021.

Similarly, the GAO cited a report from earlier this year in recommending addressing fragmentation in the security clearance process resulting in agencies not granting reciprocity to eligibility decisions made by other agencies, leading to repetitive work and delays.

Other new topics include overlapping management activities in DoD medical facility management, fragmentation of efforts to safeguard federally funded research from foreign threats, fragmentation of efforts aimed at addressing cyber risks to critical infrastructure, duplicative software licenses across agencies, and more.

The GAO said that since it began issuing that annual report in 2011, agencies and Congress have fully addressed 66 of the recommendations and partially addressed another 7 percent, resulting in savings or increased revenues to the government as well as “reduced mismanagement, fraud, waste, and abuse.” However, some 550 recommendations remain open, it said, about a third of which are projected to have direct financial benefits.

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