Defense Real Property:

DOD Needs to Take Additional Actions to Improve Management of Its Inventory Data

GAO-19-73: Published: Nov 13, 2018. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2018.

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Brian J. Lepore
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William J. Cordrey
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cordreyw@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

GAO found that the Department of Defense's (DOD) Real Property Assets Database (RPAD) contained inaccurate data and lacked completeness, although certain data that GAO reviewed had improved their accuracy since fiscal year 2014. RPAD is a department-wide database of real property data annually compiled by the Office of the Secretary of Defense from the inventories of the military services and DOD's Washington Headquarters Services, which manages real property in the National Capital region. DOD uses RPAD to report on DOD's real property to Congress and other federal agencies, such as the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration to assist in managing federal real property.

DOD has weaknesses in its processes for recording and reporting real property data that have led to inaccurate and incomplete information. GAO and others found military services have not consistently recorded real property transactions (i.e., acquisition of, change to, and disposal of a real property asset) and physical inventories of assets. GAO also found that the military services have not corrected identified discrepancies in their data systems, such as missing entries for utilization and facility condition and overdue asset reviews. GAO reviewed records of 120 facilities with identified discrepancies in fiscal year 2015 RPAD data and compared them to the records in the respective data system in 2017 and found that 61 discrepancies remained. The military services had corrected the data in the remaining 59 reviewed facilities in their data systems. DOD's efforts to prepare for an upcoming financial audit have helped identify issues and improve accuracy of some data. However, if DOD does not require the military services to fully monitor recording processes and implement corrective actions to resolve data discrepancies, the department will continue to have incomplete and inaccurate real property data and unreliable RPAD information.

DOD has not addressed three risks that can adversely affect its ability to use its information to manage its real property. Specifically, DOD (1) has unfilled real property positions limiting its capacity to manage its data, (2) lacks a department-wide approach to improving its data quality, and (3) has not identified how it will complete implementation of an effort to improve access to data. These risks exist, in part, because DOD has not developed a strategy that identifies and addresses risks with accompanying time frames and performance metrics. If DOD does not develop a strategy that identifies and addresses risks to data quality and information accessibility, DOD may miss the opportunity to reasonably ensure that the information needed for effective decision making by DOD, Congress, and other federal agencies is available to meet real property accountability and reporting objectives.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD manages a portfolio of real property assets that as of fiscal year 2016 reportedly included about 568,000 facilities with a combined plant replacement value of about $1 trillion and 27.2 million acres of land. DOD requires the military services and Washington Headquarters Services to collect and maintain information about each of the assets in their inventories to assist the department with management decision making.

In May 2017, the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness, asked GAO to review DOD's management and use of its real property data. This report evaluates (1) how accurately and completely RPAD reflects DOD's real property assets, (2) DOD's processes to ensure accuracy and completeness in recording and reporting real property data, and (3) DOD's actions to ensure it has addressed risks that may affect the use of real property information for managing its assets. GAO analyzed the RPAD and military services' data for fiscal years 2014-2016; reviewed documentation; conducted site visits; and interviewed DOD officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making six recommendations to improve DOD's real property data, including fully monitoring recording processes; developing and implementing corrective actions for identified data discrepancies; and developing a strategy to address risks associated with data quality and information accessibility. DOD concurred or partially concurred with all draft recommendations. In response, GAO agreed to combine two recommendations.

For more information, contact Brian J. Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or leporeb@gao.gov or William J. Cordrey at (404) 679-1873 or cordreyw@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Army concurred with this recommendation. As of February 2020, DOD officials told us that the Army has required monitoring of its processes used for recording all real property information. Specifically, the Army developed a 5-year plan to address the recommendations to improve data quality and accountability in conjunction with the ongoing DOD financial statement audit. The plan reportedly requires measuring results through directed physical inspections and record updates, using a single, standardized Accountable Property System of Record (APSR) for all assets. DOD officials also told us that the Army developed an automated validation and second-person verification to comply with the requirements and business rules of the DOD Real Property Information Model (RPIM), and that it continue to use OSD's validation and verification tool when providing annual data inputs to OSD's Real Property Assets Database, with any feedback to be addressed at senior Army levels. However, DOD officials did not provide any documentation that these requirements have been established. Once we receive that documentation, we will review it to assess the extent to which it meets the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should require monitoring of its processes used for recording all required real property information--to include evaluating on an ongoing basis whether or to what extent these activities are being carried out--and remediating any identified deficiencies. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Navy concurred with this recommendation. As of February 2020, DOD officials stated that the Navy required monitoring of its processes used for recording real property information. Specifically, the Navy established a requirement for a 100% inventory check to ensure existence and completeness of its real property information. As part of DOD larger effort to improve its financial management through the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) guidance, DOD officials also told us that the Navy plans to implement the existence and completeness results provided by an independent Public Accounting Firm. Further, it will continue to use OSD's validation and verification tool when providing annual data inputs to OSD's Real Property Assets Database, with any feedback to be addressed at senior Navy levels. However, DOD officials did not provide any documentation that these requirements had been put in place. Once we receive that documentation, we will review it to assess the extent to which it meets the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should require monitoring of Navy and Marine Corps processes used for recording all required real property information--to include evaluating on an ongoing basis whether or to what extent these activities are being carried out--and remediating any identified deficiencies. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Air Force concurred with this recommendation. As of February 2020, DOD officials told us that the Air Force has required monitoring of its processes for recording all required real property information. For example, the Air Force plans to establish a Data Quality Program (DQP) within the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Information Technology Functional Management Office to incorporate requirements for improving accuracy of its asset information in its Accountable Property System of Record (APSR). The Air Force also plans to revise its instruction AFI 32-9005 to define responsibility for the accuracy of data at the lowest level. Further, it plans to require use of OSD's validation and verification tool to identify and correct inaccuracies when providing annual data inputs to OSD's Real Property Assets Database, with any feedback to be addressed at senior Air Force levels. However, DOD officials did not provide any documentation that these requirements had yet been put in place. We await documentation of these requirements and will review them, once received, to assess the extent to which they meet the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should require monitoring of its processes used for recording all required real property information--to include evaluating on an ongoing basis whether or to what extent these activities are being carried out--and remediating any identified deficiencies. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  4. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation to define and document which data elements within its Real Property Assets Database (RPAD) submissions are most significant for decision-making. As of February 2020, DOD officials told us they will conduct a review of all data elements in its Real Property Assets Database, including compiling list of all data elements actively being used by data consumers. DOD also plans to divide required data elements into blocks to begin strenuous monitoring for accuracy. DOD's estimated completion date for these actions is September 2023. We will continue to monitor the completion of DOD's planned actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in collaboration with the military services, defines and documents which data elements within the RPAD submissions are most significant for decision-making. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation to coordinate on corrective action plans to remediate discrepancies in significant data elements in its real property data system that are identified by OSD's verification and validation tool. As of February 2020, DOD officials told us they plan to establish a senior leader Functional Governance Board to monitor accuracy compliance. DOD also plans to establish quarterly progress reports to be posted on the Data Analytics Integration Support (DAIS) application for constant monitoring by all users. DOD's estimated completion date for these actions is September 2022. We will continue to monitor the completion of DOD's planned actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in collaboration with the military services, coordinates on corrective action plans to remediate discrepancies in significant data elements in its real property data system that are identified by OSD's verification and validation tool. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Open

    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation and stated that it plans to collaborate with the military services on separate service strategies that reflect each military service's operating environment. As of February 2020, DOD officials told us they plan to stabilize their Data Analytics Integration Support (DAIS) platform to improve data inventory by ensuring successful network connectivity for all military service users. DOD will update policy guidance to formalize the use of the DAIS platform for inventory submission by the military services. DOD also will develop and formalize in policy benchmarks and metrics to monitor data accuracy. DOD's estimated completion date for these actions is September 2023. We will continue to monitor the completion of DOD's planned actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in collaboration with the military services, develops a strategy that identifies and addresses risks to data quality and information accessibility. At a minimum, this strategy should establish time frames and performance metrics for addressing risks related to (1) unfilled real property positions, (2) a lack of a department-wide approach to improving its data, and (3) implementation of OSD's expanded data platform. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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