Better Information Management Could Alleviate Oversight Problems With the GSA Construction Program

PLRD-82-87: Published: Jul 9, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1982.

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GAO was asked to review the General Services Administration's (GSA) Public Buildings Service's ability to provide accurate and timely information on construction.

GAO found that information on project cost, scope, and schedule variances is not routinely provided to congressional committees or GSA top management, nor is it accurate or timely. This lack of information prevents Congress from effectively evaluating progress on approved projects or identifying cost overruns and delays. Extensive manual efforts are required to generate oversight information reports, in spite of the availability of an information system designed to collect the needed data. Further, the GSA information management organization is not structured or properly positioned to effectively resolve such problems or to respond to the needs of program managers. The automated tracking system cannot provide complete and meaningful project performance information, and it does not provide reliable oversight reports because its database contains inaccurate and outdated information. GAO found that: (1) GSA never completed the required post-implementation system review/evaluation to determine whether the system was designed and is functioning properly; (2) the system's integrity and reliability are not maintained because users do not follow the National Bureau of Standards Federal Information Processing Standards; and (3) use of the system is not required, nor do GSA regions adequately support it. The problems in this review are indicative of deeper ones in the overall GSA information resources management.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require that the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service enforce adherence to Federal Information Processing Standards by user organizations.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require that regions document all nonstandard RACATS programs fully and that the regions submit this documentation to the central office where it will be kept on file for control purposes.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require that a full and complete inventory be made of all nonstandard programs and that a listing of all available programs be disseminated to be regions.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should acquire computer graphics capability which is cost effective to eliminate extensive, manual efforts expended in preparing management reports.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should correct the input error problem through training, and possibly by acquiring better input devices, such as optical readers or other new input technology.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service and the designated information resources manager of GSA should correct and improve RACATS so that it adequately fulfills the current needs of the agency or acquire another existing system which will fulfill its needs.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service and the designated information resources manager of GSA should require Service managers to use whichever system is ultimately selected for agency use.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service and the designated information resources manager of GSA should enforce the timely input of required data into the selected system.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should appoint a senior official experienced in information management as the permanent information resources manager, designated at assistant administrator or equivalent level, reporting directly to him, with the sole responsibilities of this official being to implement the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 and assume all the duties required by the Act.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should require top management's involvement and cooperation in information resources management (IRM) and emphasize the senior IRM official's authority over all IRM activities at GSA.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should conduct a post-implementation system review of the Repair and Alteration and Construction Automated Tracking System (RACATS) to determine whether it should be redesigned to collect and analyze all the data necessary to provide complete project performance information or whether a more suitable existing system should be acquired.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should establish a central IRM office, headed by the senior official, consolidating existing offices. This office should include such IRM-related subcomponents as deemed necessary for the senior official to carry out his/her responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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