Impact of Home Sale Program Not Being Tracked, Says GAO

Federal agencies in general do not track the impact on employee recruitment and retention of a program that facilitates the sale of a relocating employee’s home but anecdotally they say it is valuable, GAO has said.

Agencies can use the GSA-managed Appraised Value Offer program, under which a relocation management company buys a relocating employee’s home for its appraised value if it cannot be sold during a stated time. GAO said that agencies using the program have controls including that the approval process must be complete before payments are made and watching for misuse for personal gain.

In responses to a survey sent by GAO, however, none of 20 agencies said they have formally evaluated how the program affects recruitment and retention, although several provided examples of how it had had helped them recruit the most qualified employees or assisted with hard-to-fill positions.

GAO also looked specifically at the VA, which suspended its program for fiscal 2016 following an IG report finding that two employees had abused the program to relocate for their personal benefit, and since has restarted it. That department has added new controls including for example to require approval prior to initiating recruitment efforts and that a relocating employee’s participation cannot be approved by the employee’s subordinates and is following best practices, the report said.

However, the VA too does not track the impact, it said, and such information “could be useful in identifying trends and options for targeting certain occupations or skill sets,” said GAO. It said the VA concurred with a recommendation to begin such tracking.