Review of the Alterations and Refurnishing of Office Space Occupied by ACTION

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-12-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                               COMPTROLLER          GENERAL     OF      T
                                              _   WASHINGTON.    D.C.


.,c-I     Dear Mr.     Chairman:
                  Pursuant     to the request        contained     in your letter      dated                             7
          October     8, 1971, and subsequent            discussions     with our repre-
          sentatives,      we have reviewed          the alterations       and refurnishing”
        1 of office     space occupied        by ACTION~Yependent                 agency’ es-                           :-’ *I
          tablished     by-organization            Plan 1 of 1971, effective           July 1,
          1971, to bring         together,    within     a single    agency,    a number of
          voluntary     action      programs.      We examined procurement          documents,
          interviewed      agency officials          and visited‘-m%nyYY!f     the offices
          occupied     by the agency;

                  The creation       of ACTION resulted           in the consolidation      of
          several      existing    programs,       including      the Peace Corps and the
          Volunteers        in Service     to America        (VISTA))   and the transfer      of
          employees       and office     furniture       from several     agencies     to ACTION
          during     the period      July 1 through          July 26, 1971.

          ALTERATIONS,      FAINTING,             AND ELECTRICAL                WORK

                  ACTION occupies       180,000 square feet of                                   space in three
          buildings      located     in Washington,      D.C.    The                           estimated   costs of
          alterations,       p ainting,   and electrical        work                           at the three build-
          ings,     as shown on job orders         issued     to the                           General   Services
          Administration         from July 1 through       October                             14, 1971, are as
          follows     :
                                                                Alter-               Paint-         trical
                                                                ations                ing             work     Total
          Maiatico    Building
             806 -Connecticut       Avenue,            NW.
             (102,000    square     feet)                       $10,720             $ 7,675        $ 3,755    $22,150
          Matomic Building
             1717 H Street,        NW.
             (35,000   square      feet)                             13,800           2,720          8,905     25,425
          Paramount    Building
             1735 I Street,        NW.
             (43,000   square      feet)                                                                                         i
                                                                        2,870              -        ’ 1,040     3,910
               Total                                            $27,390             $10,395        $13,700    $51,485      ’ ‘;,;T
                                                                                                                          ’ , 2*

                                       50TH        ANNIVERSARY              1921-    197

           Most of the alteration              costs pertained            to the installa-
    tion or removal        of walls       to create       offices       of suitable      dimen-
    sions.     For example,         several     individual         offices     were created
    from former     library       and conference         areas.         Painting     was done
    in the altered       areas and in various              offices        in which walls
    were scarred      or dirty.         Electrical       work included           such items
    as moving light        fixtures      and electrical            and telephone        outlets
    to conform    to rearrangements             of desks;        also wiring        changes
    were made to accommodate              communications           and automatic        data
    processing    equipment.
           All alterations,            p ainting,    and electrical         work were done
    through    the General           Services     Administration,        and in no in-
    stance did the work              appear unjustified           or excessive   in cost.


           Most of the furnishings       used by ACTION were previously
     used by other agencies       and were transferred      to ACTION along
     with the agencies’      employees.     Some furniture,    carpeting,    and
A7 draperies     obtained    from the Peace Corps were purchased          by the ?‘: /
-+.r Corps during    June 1971.     These Corps purchases      and subsequent
     ACTION purchases     are summarized     below.

                                                                    Peace    Corps      ACTION

    Procurements        from       non-Federal     suppliers:
         Furniture                                                     $13,843        $ 1,199
         Carpets                                                         4,999         23,006
         Draperies                                                       1,536             882
    Procurements        from       Federal   suppliers:
         Furniture                                                           898         1,732

                Total                                                  $21.276        $26,819

           The furniture    purchased      by the Peace Corps in June was
    used to furnish      the offices      of five new executive-level       posi-
    tions    that were proposed      for ACTION.      The cost of furniture
    procured     by ACTION after     July 1, 1971, includes        about $1,300
    for 12 desks and 12 chairs          for a typewriting-training       room.


The other    items,     including    three desks and three               chairs   costing
a total    of about $1,100,       were used to supplement                the furnishings
of executive     offices      and reception  rooms.

       Because items of furniture              and carpeting       identical       to those
purchased     from non-Federal         suppliers      were not available           from Fed-
eral suppliers,        we could not fully          evaluate     the reasonableness             of
the prices      paid by making price           comparisons     between the two
sources.       In almost     all instances,        however,     higher     priced     furni-
ture having       the same functional         purpose was available             from Federal
suppliers.        For example,      the Peace Corps purchased              five    executive-
type desks at $255 each; executive-type                   desks available          through
the Federal       supply    sources    cost as much as $463 each.                 A similar
comparison       of carpeting      costs showed only a slight              difference        in
price    between the two sources.              Draperies     are not available           from
Federal     supply    sources.

        Our tour of the offices        occupied     by ACTION and discussions
with agency officials        confirmed     that,    except    for the furniture
for the typewriting-training           room, the new furnishings           were
placed    in office    areas of agency executives            and indicated     that
the furnishings       had been moderate,        rather    than excessive.        We
observed    also that the agency was continuing               to use much office
furniture     that was in poor condition.             ACTION officials      told us
that most of the carpeting          purchased      was used to replace        badly
worn carpeting      that was about 10 years old.

       We found no evidence      that interior      decorator    services   had
been obtained     by the agency or that new furnishings             had been
provided    for the Director’s      office,    except   for new carpeting
that had been installed        about 2 months prior        to the creation    of


      Although   our review   did not indicate    that the new furnish-
ings were excessive     in cost or appearance,      it is possible      that
lower prices    might have been obtained      had additional    suppliers
been contacted.



             ACTION officials       told us that,        when it became certain              ’
    that the new agency would be created,                   they were faced with a
    pressing      requirement     for furniture        for the offices            of the pro-
    posed new executive-level             positions.        Therefore,        as a matter      of
    expediency,        most of the furniture          was purchased         through     nego-
    tiations      with’ Executive      Interiors,       Incorporated,         a local     com-
    pany that was known to maintain                 adequate     stocks     of the type of
    furniture       that the agency desired.              The officials         told us also
    that this company was willing                 to coordinate       delivery       of the fur-
    niture     with the completion          of any alterations,            painting,      and car-
    peting     of the offices.

             ACTION officials       also said that the carpet       procurements
    had been negotiated         with the Woodmont Carpet Company as a                    mat-
    ter of expediency         and that this      company had been selected               be-
    cause it was known to be reliable               and was willing    to make           the
    installation     at night       and during     weekends,   with a minimum            of
    interruption     to the agency’s         program activities.

           Federal   agencies     are not required         to use Federal    supply
    sources when the time of delivery               from those sources     is not
    acceptable.      In this    circumstance        agencies    are not required
    to obtain     General   Services     Administration        approval  to procure
    items from a non-Federal          supplier,       but they are required      to
    query the Federal       supplier     as to whether       it is able to meet
    the agencies f delivery        requirements.

            The Federal       Procurement     Regulations       specify     a number of
    circumstances         under which negotiation,          rather      than formal      ad-
    vertising       of procurements,       is permitted       and require       that nego-
    tiated      contracts     and purchase     orders     contain     references      to the
    authority       under which they have been negotiated.                   The regula-
    tions     require     also that,     when procurements         are negotiated,
    proposals       be solicited      from the maximum number of qualified
    sources      consistent      with the nature       of, and requirement          for,
    the items being procured.

          We found no evidence       indicating        that Federal     suppliers
    had been contacted     regarding      delivery       requirements.      The rec-
    ords contained    no statements       citing     the authority      under which
    these procurements    were negotiated          or evidencing       whether


proposals    had been solicited        from more than one supplier.
ACTION officials        told us that future      procurements         of office
furnishings     would be made in accordance            with the Federal         Pro-
curement    Regulations      and that,    whenever     practical,      Federal
suppliers    would be used.        We  plan   no  further      action   on this
matter .

       We plan to make no further        distribution    of this report
unless    copies   are specifically    requested,     and then we shall
make distribution      only after    your agreement     has been obtained
or public     announcement     has been made by you concerning      the
contents    of the report.

       We trust that the        information   provided   has satisfactorily
answered your questions.             If we can be of further    assistance,
please   let us know.

                                          Comptroller   General
                                          of the United   States

 The Honorable     Alan Cranston,  Chairman
.Special    Subcommittee  on Human Resources
 Committee     on Labor and Public  Welfare               <:2
                                                          ) 2 j“A ,i. 4’ (,,
 United    States  Senate