Conditions at the James Knox Polk Building Leased by the General Services Administration for Use by the Navy

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-07-12.

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

       Dear Mr.      Burke:

              Your letter     of April    1, 1971, requested       our investigation
      of statements       contained    in a letter      from David A. Bryant,        Lieu-
      tenant,     USN,   concerning    the  conditions      at the  Jss     J$~~Polk
       "&"~-*.     (National     Center Building       No. 2) in ArlinFtony,      Virginia.
      This building       was leased in January 1970 under a 2D-year lease
    1 by the General ServiZ'EZ~Administration               (GSA) for use by the Navy
      Department     at an annual rental        of $1.2 million.

             In December 1969 the President      directed    GSA to demolish the
       temporary    Main Navy and Munitions   Buildings     on Constitution       Ave-
       nue by the end of 1970.      To comply with this directive,           it was
       necessary to move about 12,000 Navy personnel          into the*James
       Polk Building    and other leased buildings       in Northern    Virginia.

                The James Knox Polk Building      was occupied in July 1970, be-
       fore construction       was completed.     At that time, such items as
       partitions,     ceiling   tile, baseboard,    and light  covers were not
       installed     in all areas and painting      was not complete.

                Lieutenant         Bryant stated that,            in his view, the two most ir-
       ritating       deficiencies        which had not been corrected                   were the in-
       sufficient         lighting
                           -u*wI*L..    and the inability            of the heating/air-
       conditioning           system to provide          reliable        cornforT--.'      k_-
                The lease specifies            that lighting           in all office        areas pro-
       duce and maintain              a minimum of 75 footcandles                 at desk level.         In
       January 1971 the Navy Administrative                         Office prepared         a list    of
       25 rooms in which lighting                 deficiencies           existed.       As of May 20,
       1971, the deficiencies               had been corrected              in 22 of these rooms.
       Most of the corrections               involved        relocating        existing     fixtures,
       but in some rooms additional                  fixtures        were required.           A GSA
       leasing      official        told us that GSA would follow                   up on the correc-
       tions to be made in the remaining                       three rooms,

            We visually  inspected  the lighting  for about half the area
       on seven of the 12 floors   and measured the lighting      at desk level
       in 19 rooms, other than for those included       on the Navy list,
       where there appeared to be insufficient    lighting.     In'nine   rooms,

                                     50   TH   ANNIVERSARY    1921-   1971


            the lighting   was equal to or exceeded the minimum lease require-
            ment of 75 footcandles    and in 10 rooms the lighting          ranged from
            35 to 70 footcandles.     We furnished    the GSA buildings         manager
            with a list   of the 10 rooms where the lighting          did not meet the
            minimum lease requirements.       A GSA leasing    official      told us that
            the building   owner would be requested      to correct      the deficiencies.

                     The lease specifies       that the heating         system be capable of
            maintaining       relative    humidity     at 35 percent plus or minus 5 per-
            cent during the winter months.                In February 1971 the Navy Admin-
            istrative      Office received       written     complaints     from the building
            occupants about the low relative                humidity    and temperature     incon-
            sistencies.         According   to Navy records the humidity            was reported
            as low as 9 percent.           The Administrative         Office,   by letter     dated
            February 18, 1971, notified              GSA of these problems.         GSA, in turn,
            requested      the lessor,     by letters       dated February 19, March 31, and
            April     12, 1971, to investigate           and correct     the temperature      and
            humidity     problems.

                   The GSA buildings    manager told us that,         during      the summer of
            1970, his office     had received     oral complaints      from the building
            occupants about the high relative          humidity    and temperature        incon-
            sistencies.    These    complaints,    according    to  the    buildings     manager,
            were brought   to the attention       of the lessor,      and, even though the
            lessor had attempted      to maintain     proper temperature          balance in
            the building,    this problem had not been resolved.

                   In April     1971 the lessor notified        GSA by telephone    that he
            had awarded a contract       to an engineering         firm to survey the heat-
            ing, air-conditioning,       and ventilation        system in the building     and
            to prepare drawings and specifications              for correcting   the defi-

                   The lease for the building         requires      the lessor,     within     90
            days after      complete occupancy,     to   furnish      GSA   with a  certifica-
            tion from a recognized       engineering       contractor       that the building
            is in total      balance for air conditioning,            heating,   and ventila-
            tion.     At the time of our review,         the lessor had not submitted
            this certification       and GSA had not requested            one.   After we in-
            formed the GSA leasing       official     that the lease required            that such
            a certification       be submitted,    he told us that it would be obtained.
.   .


               Lieutenant     Bryant       suggested     that the lease be reviewed      to
        determine     whether    the lessor        should be paid for services       not pro-
        vided.      The lease provides          that,    in the event of failure     by the
        lessor    to provide     any services,         utilities,   maintenance,    or re-
        pairs   required     by the lease,         the Government    has the right    to se-
        cure such services,         utilities,        maintenance,   or repairs    and to
        deduct the costs from the rental                payments.

                GSA did not, under the above provision,               incur  any costs.
        Consequently,       no deductions     have been made from the rental            pay-
        ments.     According       to a GSA official,       the lessor    has taken action
        to remedy all deficiencies           brought     to his attention.       To facili-
        tate corrective         action,  the lessor      recently   assigned    one of his
        employees,     on a full-time       basis,     to handle all emergency      com-
        plaints    received      from occupants       of the three buildings      in the
        National     Center complex.        He also increased       the size of his
        maintenance      staff.

              We did not request        the formal     views of GSA on the        contents
        of this report,  nor did        we release     copies of the report        to the

                                                Sincerely    yours,

                                     r.amml     Comptroller   General
                                                of the United   States

        The Honorable  James A. Burke
        House of Representatives