The GAO has called for greater emphasis on a program encouraging the use by federal agencies of “personal property” — such as office equipment and vehicles — that has been declared excess.
GAO said that of 2.9 million items declared as excess over 2016-2020 with a total value of $32.8 billion, agencies had obtained about 8 percent of the number worth 12 percent of the value in that time.
“It is unclear whether agencies could have obtained excess property to a greater extent because data on purchases and on excess property do not contain enough detail to correlate specific products agencies purchased to specific products available as excess. In addition, some categories of property agencies purchased — such as perishables and national security sensitive items — are not typically available as excess,” it said.
It said that in a study of five agencies — BIA, CBP, FAA, SEC, and USAID — none had guidance completely addressing requirements under the Federal Management Regulation that before making new purchases agencies are consider whether excess property, already owned by the government, can meet their needs. Those standards go to determining when it is practicable to check for and obtain excess property and evaluating the suitability of such property to meet their needs.
Further, while the GSA is responsible for promoting use of the program, those efforts “may be insufficient” and that GSA has not assessed its current efforts or other actions that could increase agencies’ use of excess property, it said.
It said that the five agencies agreed to recommendations that they ensure their internal guidance on considering excess property fully addresses the FMR elements, and that GSA agreed with a recommendation that it assess its efforts to promote agencies’ maximum use of excess property and take action that will help agencies implement better guidance.
The GAO’s report follows one by the inspector general at DoD finding that the military services could make fuller use of a similar internal DoD program for reusing excess property.