GSA Management Over OPM Building Would Cost the Agency Millions, IG Says
A financially-strapped Office of Personnel Management would incur millions of dollars more in rent and contract fees if the General Services Administration had moved forward with its original plans to take over the management of OPM’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C.
That warning came from OPM’s inspector general, who issued stark words of caution in an “alert” to agency management earlier this week.
As Federal News Network reported earlier this year, GSA told OPM last July it planned to revoke the agency’s existing delegation for the operations and maintenance of the Theodore Roosevelt Building in Washington.
“It is vital that OPM pursue the return of the delegation to operate and maintain the TRB from GSA,” Norbert Vint, the deputy inspector general performing the duties of OPM’s IG, said. “A preliminary analysis completed by OPM shows that allowing GSA to resume operation and maintenance of the TRB would increase OPM’s rent costs by approximately $4.2 million annually.”
And since OPM’s current operation and maintenance contracts would no longer be needed under GSA’s management, OPM could also incur an additional $10.2 million in termination fees, the IG said.
The delegation of authority was rescinded at the request of then-acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert, GSA told Federal News Network. The agency was initially scheduled to take over management of OPM headquarters starting this October, GSA had said.
But in its response to Vint’s management alert and his subsequent recommendations, the plan appears to have changed.
GSA agreed earlier this summer to allow OPM to continue the operation and management of the TRB, OPM said. Its current delegation of authority will remain in place until Sept. 30, 2021.
“OPM intends to use this time to work with GSA to gather the information necessary to maximize the cost effectiveness of OPM’s space allocation,” the agency said in response to its inspector general.
Still, the IG sees problems with this approach, citing the National Academy of Public Administration’s ongoing, congressionally mandated study on OPM, its statutory authorities and its future.
NAPA is expected to finish its study and recommendations for OPM some time in March 2021.
“Even then a determination of the path forward is not completely known as Congress needs to review and make its decision on any potential legislation,” Vint said of the NAPA study. “The timelines of the NAPA study, OPM’s review and report, and the transition of the operation and maintenance of the TRB back to GSA all collide in the latter half of fiscal 2021. This will pull OPM’s limited resources in many directions and leaves little time to adequately assess the costs and impact on OPM. The delegation to operate and maintain the TRB should remain with OPM until the path forward and the needs of OPM are clear and the costs and impact of changes can be adequately determined.”
This story will be updated.