General Services Administration:

STAR-PBS' New Program for Tracking and Managing Real Property

GGD-00-12: Published: Oct 12, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Public Buildings Service's (PBS) System for Tracking and Administering Real Property (STAR), focusing on: (1) the functions STAR performs; (2) whether users were having problems using STAR; (3) the steps PBS had taken or is taking to address any user problems; and (4) the actions PBS had taken or plans to take to ensure that STAR data are accurate, reliable, and consistent.

GAO noted that: (1) STAR is a real estate inventory management software application that maintains data on projects, leases, buildings, and space assignments--that is, who is in what space--in an integrated database environment; (2) the data in STAR are used to generate bills to clients for their assigned space, develop budget plans, track and manage leases, and evaluate performance; (3) STAR's input/output functions include: (a) direct on-screen access to the data; (b) the ability to update the data; (c) access to standard reports; and (d) the ability to sort data and create ad hoc reports; (4) users identified problems with STAR as well as benefits derived from using the system; (5) the 128 users GAO interviewed identified 18 types of problems that they had experienced using STAR; (6) these problems included complaints such as taking too long to enter data and having too many steps or screens; (7) according to the STAR project manager, all of the problems that were reported to GAO by users had been reported to the STAR project team through the contractor-operated STAR Help Desk; (8) also, STAR users had submitted nearly 8,000 requests, which were recorded on service tickets, to the Help Desk between October 1997 and August 1999; (9) these tickets, many of them concerning the same issue, identified problems that users reported having when working with STAR as well as STAR enhancement suggestions and other issues related to STAR's operations; (10) further, 116 of the 128 users GAO interviewed saw at least 1 benefit from using STAR, such as data being current and readily available; (11) the STAR Help Desk and the PBS Change Review Team were set up to solve problems identified by STAR users and to resolve other issues with STAR; (12) by the end of November 1999, changes and enhancements will have resulted in eight versions of STAR; (13) further, additional contract help had been provided to assist the regions with STAR problems and training; and (14) PBS has taken various actions to try to ensure that STAR has accurate, reliable, and consistent data: (a) STAR has been designed with built-in features to help ensure the reliability of some data elements; (b) PBS ran edits against the data before they were transferred to STAR and ran additional edits after data were transferred; (c) PBS initiated an effort to validate all space assignments; (d) PBS conducted a special study and produced a report that identified data problems and made recommendations for solving the problems; (e) a team was set up to determine how to implement the report's recommendations; and (f) PBS is developing a quality control system.

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