Walter Reed's Problems Underscore Immediate Need for Federal Real Property Improvements; Congress Must Intervene to Avoid Similar Crises

Share Article

The recent allegation of sub-standard housing for wounded recuperating soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an unfortunate example of the consequences of the current state of federal real property asset management - a condition the General Accountability Office (GAO) has sought to improve since 2003. "This is just one of the potential unintended results of our current approach to federal real property," said Ray Summerell, Vice President for Corporate Development of VlSTA, an expert in real property asset management. "Unfortunately, regulatory requirements that could lead to improvements are unfunded, such as Executive Order 13327. Unless Congress and the taxpaying public begins to pay more attention to real property, who knows what else may happen?"

The recent allegation of sub-standard housing for wounded recuperating soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an unfortunate example of the consequences of the current state of federal real property asset management - a condition the General Accountability Office (GAO) has sought to improve since 2003.

"This is just one of the potential unintended results of our current approach to federal real property," said Ray Summerell, Vice President for Corporate Development of VISTA, an expert in real property asset management. "Unfortunately, regulatory requirements that could lead to improvements are unfunded, such as Executive Order 13327. Unless Congress and the taxpaying public begins to pay more attention to real property, who knows what else may happen?"

Federal real property was added to the GAO's High-Risk Series in 2003 - and was kept on that list in the GAO's update document released this past January.

In that update, GAO cited that the Department of Energy, NASA, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Departments of the Interior, State, and Veterans Affairs have "reported repair and maintenance backlogs for buildings and structures that total over $16 billion."

Summerell called for more pro-active involvement from Capitol Hill's elected officials to ensure that federal real property professionals have the resources to properly maintain their real property holdings, and to dispose of surplus property that may be a drain on their operating budgets.

According to the GAO High-Risk Series Update, "over 10 percent" of the facilities are excess or underutilized at the Departments of Energy (Energy) and Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Across the federal government, the financial impact of wasted federal space becomes clear. Clay Johnson of the Office of Management and Budget, in speaking before the US Senate, has estimated that five percent of surplus federal real property inventory has a value of $15 billion. The General Services Administration puts the total replacement value of federal assets (buildings and structures) as of 2006 at $1.26 trillion.

"Government can do better when it comes to real property asset management," said VISTA's Summerell.

"No one wants to repeat the current crisis at Walter Reed, but Congress needs to work harder to contribute to the solution," Summerell said. "Without more legislative effort, the federal inventory of land and buildings will continue to be at risk, and no one can predict where the next problems may arise."

About VISTA

VISTA helps its clients gain the greatest value from money spent on real property assets.

Government financial and operations executives use VISTA for information technology, management consulting, decision support systems and services. VISTA's services and solutions help collect and analyze massive volumes of asset-related data. The result is high quality financial and performance information that makes it easier to plan and implement effective policy, management, stewardship, and budgetary decisions.

By working with VISTA, organizations develop best practices, as well as consistent reporting standards and performance measures. The return on investment for VISTA's services can be as much as 100-to-1.

For more than 20 years, VISTA's solutions have simplified cash management strategies - cutting costs, eliminating waste and improving overall workplace efficiency. To learn more, visit http://www.vistatsi.com.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

ALEX ZAVISTOVICH
Visit website