GSA’s Public Buildings Service is under-reporting the amount of leased space in its portfolio that tenant agencies are not using, an IG audit has said, and “as a result, PBS is not backfilling the space or taking other steps to minimize the impact to the taxpayer” of unused space.
Under a series of laws and directives, PBS is “responsible for being aware of any unused leased space under its authority in its inventory and working to mitigate the financial impact of that space to the government,” the audit said.
However, it said that the reported 1.1 percent vacancy figure does not always account for space for which those agencies are continuing to pay rent even though it is vacant. The audit identified nearly 800,000 square feet representing $21 million in annual rental payments that the PBS “is not reporting as required.”
The report also found that the PBS is inconsistent in applying its own policies when designating leases as cancelable or not, a distinction important to determining what can be done when space is not needed.
“Incomplete information on unused leased space may prevent PBS management and other key stakeholders, including the Federal Real Property Council and Congress, from making informed and effective decisions to minimize unnecessary costs associated with GSA’s lease portfolio. Accordingly, PBS should develop and implement a process to ensure that it reports and minimizes all unused space in its lease portfolio, including any unused space where PBS is receiving rent; specifically, space held under non-cancelable occupancy agreements,” the report said.