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Guide no. 08/02: Expenditure on in-house relocations

Guidelines

 (1) Prior to any internal removals, federal departments and agencies, non-departmental federal public bodies and grantees in receipt of institutional federal grants should consider where there are cost-effective alternative options. Such consideration should be based on the estimated removal costs. Apart from the mere costs of transport, these estimates should also allow for indirect following costs e.g. the refurbishment of office premises.

 (2) Where removals are necessary, they should study at an early stage whether work can be delivered cost-effectively and appropriately by in-house staff. Where contracts are awarded to external service providers, all provisions of procurement law need to be complied with.

 (3) The responsibility for the organisation of internal removals should be clearly defined. In this context, it may be helpful to designate a responsible officer to coordinate the removal together with all parties concerned.

 Background

 Removals within federal entities are prompted by organisational changes, reconditioning of buildings, abandoning of premises or relocation to other premises, reassignment or promotion of staff members or request of individual staff members. In 2007, we studied internal removals at five entities that were federal departments or agencies, non-departmental federal bodies and recipients of federal institutional grants. At each entity, expenditure on such removals totalled up to €650,000 annually.

 (1) We found that, prior to the removal, three entities studied whether relocation was expedient and cost-effective at all. Two entities were able to avoid expenditure by opting for cost-effective alternatives such as having state-of-the-art IT systems in place. The remaining two entities did not study such aspects. Nevertheless, it was always pointed out that internal removals impose a considerable burden on all parties concerned.

 Therefore, we have recommended exploring alternative options on a timely basis and limit removals to the necessary extent.

 Before staff moved into their new offices, some entities renewed wall-to-wall carpets, repaired and painted walls, complemented office equipment and adapted ICT equipment.

 We have drawn attention to the fact that total removal costs include transport costs and indirect following costs. Only if the entity has identified all costs it can fully and reliably assess cost-effectiveness of a removal.

 (2) One audited entity relied solely on in-house staff for carrying out the removal. Another entity was able to carry out removals with its own staff, if no more than three to four staff members were relocated. Two entities had decided that, in case of any removal, the standardised office and IT equipment and furniture were to remain at the previously occupied offices. The staff were to find identical equipment and furniture at their new offices.

 We consider an expedient solution limiting removal costs.

 Some entities also contracted out removal services but failed to observe the cost ceilings for awarding negotiated contracts and the thresholds for an EU-wide open procedure. Other entities failed to base their contract awards on blanket agreements concluded for removal services or to conclude blanket agreements.

 We pointed out that, in principle, public invitations to tender are needed for removal services. Any decision to deviate from this principle in exceptional cases needs to be documented. Where removal services are needed at regular intervals, blanket agreements may be expedient and cost-effective.

 (3) In most cases, many in-house units and external service providers were involved in carrying out removals within entities. This included users and decision-makers, janitors, in-house driver services, technical facility managers, procurement officers, materials managers, officers in charge of health and safety at work and finance divisions. Some audited entities issued extensive guidance in various forms on how to organise internal removals, (e.g. material posted on the intranet with removal forms, basic rules of procedure with lists of contacts).

 We hold that clearly defined responsibilities facilitate the systematic cooperation of all parties involved.

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