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GAO: GSA Should Notify Tenant Agencies of Foreign-Owned Buildings

The Government Accountability Office has called on the General Services Administration to inform tenant agencies if their high-security leased offices are owned by foreign companies.

GAO said in report published Monday it found that GSA leases high-security space from foreign owners in 20 buildings for 26 tenant agencies, including organizations that perform  classified operations and store sensitive data.

Owners of the high-security space include companies based in Canada, China, Israel, Japan and South Korea, the government watchdog added.

Nine of 14 agencies that GAO surveyed said they did not know that their leased facilities are foreign-owned while five agencies were not concerned or had taken actions to address risks.

Federal officials told GAO that occupying space in foreign-owned buildings could pose risks such as espionage, money laundering and unauthorized cyber and physical access.

Auditors noted GSA does not know the beneficial owners of leased offices since the agency is not required to gather such information from prospective lessors.

The watchdog urged GSA to determine whether a high-security leased space is owned by a foreign entity then forward that information to tenant agencies for security purposes.

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