Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools:

New Facilities Management Information System Promising, but Improved Data Accuracy Needed

GAO-03-692: Published: Jul 28, 2003. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2003.

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is responsible for providing over 48,000 children with a safe place to learn. In response to concerns that data in its old information system did not accurately reflect the condition of facilities, BIA acquired a new system, called the Facilities Management Information System (FMIS). GAO was asked to determine whether FMIS addresses the old system's weaknesses and meets BIA's management needs, whether BIA has finished validating the accuracy of data entered into FMIS from the old system, and how well the quality control measures are working for ensuring the accuracy of new data being entered into the system from individual schools.

FMIS is designed to address the previous data system's shortcomings and appears to have the capability to meet BIA's management needs if the data that are entered into FMIS are correct and timely. The old system was hard to use and did not readily provide data for maintenance and repair efforts. FMIS's design appears to overcome these weaknesses. For example, FMIS has features that help facility managers make data more consistent, as well as tools for helping managers develop cost estimates for maintenance and construction projects. BIA's contractor has been correcting the data that were transferred to FMIS from the previous system, but issues such as software compatibility problems between the contractor's system and FMIS have delayed entry of some of the data for more than 1 year. BIA officials say that these problems are being addressed. They said the delay has not affected their ability to prioritize or fund repair and construction projects, and our review of the data indicated that most newly identified deficiencies will not need to be addressed for 2 to 5 years. Our review of data from 14 BIA schools and observations during site visits disclosed no instances in which these data problems resulted in an unsafe learning environment for children. Most measures for controlling the quality of new data BIA employees are entering into the system for individual schools are not working well. BIA has established a multilevel review process and training programs to help ensure that such data entries are complete and accurate, but BIA's contractor, in reviewing data at the end of this process, continues to find that nearly half of the proposed data entries coming through the system are inaccurate and incomplete. Data entries from one-third of 102 schools that entered data show a 100-percent error rate. As a result, BIA officials continue to rely on their contractor to ensure that FMIS reflects accurate and complete data on the condition of BIA's facilities.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To better enable BIA to rely on its employees for maintaining accurate and complete information in the FMIS, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs should establish data standards for accuracy and completeness of FMIS data and related performance criteria for BIA employees who are responsible for entering and reviewing the data.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Indian Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Facilities Management and Construction (OFMC) developed a report based on the FMIS inventory to ensure the accuracy and completeness of FMIS data. Items listed in the inventory are assigned a risk ranking based on the required maintenance schedule. High risk items are reviewed to ensure their accuracy, medium risk items are spot checked, and no action is taken on low risk items. In addition, 5 percent of the backlog projects are spot checked each year for accuracy and cost estimates are compared to a cost template developed by OFMC. Cost discrepancies are resolved with the region. Backlog data from the condition assessments continues to be reviewed for accuracy. OFMC uses a 2-step review process for items added to the backlog--the agency and region initially review the backlogs for approval/disapproval before they are reviewed at the Central Office. The FMIS Training Manual has evolved into a user's manual and contains extensive examples for data collection, input, and cost estimating. The manual is updated before each class and updated copies are available to all system users. In addition, a new Indian Affairs Manual was developed for Facilities Management and issued in August 2005. The manual identifies the FMIS-related responsibilities for BIA staff. Also, tribal responsibilities have been developed and are included in the P.L. 93-638 contracts and P.L. 100-297 grants. Based on this work, a performance element addressing FMIS accountability and acceptable levels of performance have been established and included in the performance standards for FY 2005. Employees receiving a minimally successful or unsatisfactory rating will be placed on a Performance Improvement Plan. In addition, OFMC will limit or deny FMIS access to any employee that receives a minimally successful or unsuccessful rating.

    Recommendation: To better enable BIA to rely on its employees for maintaining accurate and complete information in the FMIS, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs should analyze available error data and use this information to provide its employees with the necessary training, guidance, and technical assistance to improve performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Indian Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Facilities Management and Construction (OFMC) developed a table within FMIS to track and identify data input problem areas and trends. This table will be expanded as appropriate. Based on OFMC's review of the data, there was a 21 percent decrease in disapprovals of items entered into the system from 2003 to 2004 and a 35 percent decrease so far in 2005. A Validation Building Report is provided to each region; this report identifies the locations with the highest disapproval ratings and recommends needed training. Based on the review and analysis of the disapproval data, training classes and the training manual have been updated. In addition, OFMC hired a GS-14 Supervisory Facility Program Specialist to provide quality assurance oversight. Responsibilities include overseeing the development of new FMIS modules, managing the internal program reviews, which checks the validity of FMIS encoding by local staff, and serving as the COTR for the condition assessment and gatekeeping contractors.

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