NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit examining NASA's leasing practices for its underused facilities. NASA is the ninth largest property holder in the Federal Government, controlling approximately 5,400 buildings and structures that support NASA research, development, and flight activities. In total, these assets occupy 44 million square feet and are estimated to cost more than $29 billion to replace. Given the programmatic and fiscal challenges facing NASA, Agency managers must balance the need to reduce NASA's real property footprint with ensuring that NASA retains currently underutilized facilities that it may need to support future missions.
NASA has several options after identifying real property as underutilized, including making the property available for lease to other Federal, state, or private organizations. Properly implemented, leasing can generate revenue to offset facilities operations and maintenance costs. However, Federal law requires NASA to dispose of property for which it does not have a current or future mission use. Moreover, leasing unneeded property cuts against the Agency's efforts to reduce its real property footprint. Accordingly, NASA must be careful not to use leasing as a substitute for disposing of underutilized property for which it has no current or future use.
This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that while NASA has made improvements to its leasing program in recent years, the Agency faces significant challenges to maximizing the benefits of its leasing program. Specifically, we found that NASA did not have clear guidance to ensure that property identified for leasing had a current or future mission use; lacked a complete inventory of space available for lease as well as an effective marketing program to attract potential tenants; lacked internal controls to ensure that its leases provide the best value to NASA and are fair to potential partners; and did not have guidance to ensure that in kind consideration that it accepts as part of a leasing arrangement benefits NASA. Absent better controls and improved guidance, the OIG concluded that NASA will be hard-pressed to maximize the full potential of its leasing program to help reduce the cost of maintaining underutilized facilities while meeting its obligation to ensure that leasing does not become a substitute for disposing of excess property.
As NASA considers expanding its leasing agreements to help manage its infrastructure challenges, the OIG recommended that the Agency strengthen its guidance, training, and documentation requirements to ensure it is receiving the highest possible benefits from its lease agreements and that the agreements are made in the most transparent manner to ensure fairness to all parties. NASA agreed to take actions to address each of our recommendations.
The full report can be found on the OIG's website at http://oig.nasa.gov/ under "Reading Room" or at the following link: http://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY12/IG-12-020.pdf
Please contact Renee Juhans at 202-358-1220 if you have questions.