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Home arrowNews arrowACHP Announces GAO Report Calling for Improved Data on Historic Properties

ACHP Announces GAO Report Calling for Improved Data on Historic Properties

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report entitled “Improved Data Needed to Strategically Manage Historic Buildings, Address Multiple Challenges” http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-35. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Service, and International Security, requested the report to assess issues related to historic preservation at non-defense agencies.  This report was developed in consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) as well as the General Services Administration (GSA), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Department o f Veterans Affairs (VA).
GAO’s report recommends that the Acting Administrator of GSA—in collaboration and consultation with the ACHP, the NPS, the VA, and Federal Real Property Council (FRPC) member agencies, work on an action plan to improve Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) data with regard to historic properties.  Specifically, GAO recommends that the ACHP be provided access to the FRPP data, so that the ACHP can better fulfill its advisory role to Congress and the President.

The findings of the GAO report are consistent with the recommendations in the ACHP’s 2009 and 2012 reports  to the President and Congress on the federal government’s stewardship of its historic properties “In a Spirit of Stewardship” (Executive Order 13287: “Preserve America”) (http://www.achp.gov/docs/2012Section3ReportFINALLowRes.pdf  and http://www.achp.gov/docs/Section3%20Report2-24-09FINAL.pdf).  The ACHP pledged to work with the FRPC on developing benchmarks for use by federal real property managing agencies to measure progress in the identification, protection, and use of historic properties.  

Focusing on GSA, NPS, and VA, the GAO report concluded that while many historic buildings successfully meet mission needs, agencies face an array of challenges in managing historic buildings, including functional limitations of older buildings in relation to contemporary mission needs and current building codes, budgetary limitations, and competing stakeholder interests.  Compounding these property management challenges, the report concluded that data on historic buildings in agencies’ FRPP is not complete. 

Agencies have undertaken portfolio-wide efforts to identify historic buildings they hold, nominate some of those buildings to the National Register of Historic Places, and manage their historic buildings in compliance with the requirements in the National Historic Preservation Act and relevant executive orders.  Nevertheless, GAO concluded that agency reports to the FRPP database should be improved to better convey to the public and stakeholders (including Office of Management and Budget and Congress), the extent of historic buildings held by agencies, and to enhance the FRPP’s usefulness in federal decision making. 

To review the full GAO report, please see http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-35

Posted January 16, 2013