Beyer, Connolly seek GSA action to correct asbestos tracking deficiencies in federal buildings

congressCongressmen Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly wrote to the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) seeking fixes to problems identified by a General Accountability Office investigative report into asbestos in federal buildings.

The report found that the GSA has failed to abide by its own tracking and recording guidelines, including the operation of a tracking database called IRIS, which tracks asbestos surveys in GSA-owned buildings constructed prior to 1998.

The Representatives wrote:

“As you are aware, GSA’s policy requires that the agency should have an asbestos survey in each building constructed prior to 1998, when asbestos was widely used in building construction, and should enter the results of that survey into GSA’s building inventory database, IRIS. However, according to GAO, asbestos-related survey data was missing for 66 percent of the 436 GSA-controlled office buildings constructed prior to 1998.

“In addition, although GSA policy requires annual reinspection of asbestos-containing material in federal buildings to assess their condition and whether they pose a potential health risk, the GSA’s inventory database that is supposed to track this information did not have a data field designed to capture the reinspection information. Adding a data field to properly capture this information should not be a difficult fix.

“The GAO recommended that GSA take action to address asbestos-related shortcomings in the agency’s federal building database by: (1) implementing a plan to enter the missing asbestos data (either by obtaining the $550,000 for system upgrades or training additional individuals to use the current database); and (2) adding a mechanism to track the reinspection data for asbestos-containing materials (or ensuring that the aforementioned database upgrade includes this fix).

“Failure to make these minor upgrades to the system would be negligent with regard to federal employees’ health and safety. We urge you to prioritize this $550,000 for the database system upgrades in your FY2020 budget request, or make alternative plans immediately so that GSA is fully tracking and recording asbestos in its federal buildings, as required, moving forward.”

The GAO report, initially requested by Rep. Beyer in 2017, reviewed documentation from 44 of 436 federal buildings that had asbestos surveys conducted, one of which had no supporting asbestos documentation at all. Although GSA policy requires annual re-inspections of asbestos-containing material in federal buildings to access their condition and whether they pose a potential health risk, the GSA’s building inventory database designed to track this information did not have a data field designed to capture this information.

A complete update to the GSA building inventory database would cost an estimated $550,000, which would include between $50,000 and $100,000 for specific asbestos reporting requirement upgrades. However, GAO found that GSA has not yet made any decision to fund the upgrade to the database and GSA currently has no alternative plan in place to capture the critical asbestos data. As GAO concluded in its report, “GSA is not well positioned to oversee the management of asbestos in its facilities.”

The GAO recommended that GSA take action to address asbestos-related shortcomings in the agency’s federal building database by entering the missing asbestos survey data and implementing a mechanism to track re-inspections of asbestos-containing material in federal buildings. The GSA concurred with these recommendations.

The potential long-term health effects from exposure to asbestos may be profound. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in the United States alone more than 2,500 people died from malignant mesothelioma, a deadly disease linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a building material resistant to fire was widely used in the construction of buildings decades ago. Asbestos related diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, often develop decades after exposure has occurred.

augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.