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Audit of PBS National Capital Region's Asbestos Management in Building 40 of the St. Elizabeths West Campus

Why We Performed This Audit

We performed this audit in response to a hotline complaint that raised concerns over asbestos management in Building 40 of GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS) National Capital Region’s (NCR’s) St. Elizabeths West Campus in Washington, D.C. Our audit objective was to determine if PBS NCR is managing asbestos in Building 40 of the St. Elizabeths West Campus in accordance with federal regulations and PBS policy to ensure the health and safety of individuals.


What We Found

PBS NCR mismanaged asbestos in Building 40 of the St. Elizabeths West Campus. Specifically, we found that PBS NCR: 

  1. Did not maintain comprehensive and reliable asbestos records for Building 40, which hindered its ability to effectively manage asbestos in the building;
  2.  Did not take appropriate measures to eliminate or mitigate asbestos-containing material (ACM) hazards in Building 40, placing building occupants, visitors, and contractors at risk of asbestos exposure; and
  3. Failed to notify building occupants of the presence and location of asbestos in Building 40 in violation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard and PBS asbestos management policy.

Overall, we found that these deficiencies were driven by significant gaps in PBS NCR personnel’s knowledge and understanding of asbestos management requirements. PBS NCR personnel routinely told us that they were unaware of the requirements set forth in PBS’s asbestos management policy and federal regulations. Some responsible officials were also unaware of the presence of ACM in Building 40. 


What We Recommend

We recommend that the PBS NCR Regional Commissioner: 

  1. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of PBS NCR’s asbestos management program and implement internal controls to ensure adherence to federal regulations and PBS asbestos management policy.
  2.  Comprehensively train PBS NCR management and staff so that they have a clear understanding of PBS’s asbestos management policy and their roles and responsibilities for effectively and safely managing ACM in GSA-owned facilities. 
  3. Take the actions listed below to improve asbestos management in Building 40:
              a. Develop and maintain an accurate, current, and comprehensive ACM inventory. 
              b. Upon completion of the ACM inventory, assess hazards arising from the ACM in the building and implement appropriate actions to mitigate or eliminate those
              c. Ensure all required asbestos records are maintained in the Inventory Reporting Information System.
              d. Enforce the asbestos management requirements established in the Building 40 operations and maintenance contract.
              e. Update, enforce, and administer the Building 40 asbestos management plan.
              f. Notify tenants of ACM inventory annually.

The PBS NCR Regional Commissioner concurred with our findings and recommendations. PBS’s response can be found in its entirety in Appendix B.

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Public Buildings Service
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