Watchdogs

Why GSA’s property inventory is inaccurate

Much of the General Services Administration’s federal buildings database is incomplete and, in some cases, has withheld information unnecessarily, a recent Government Accountability Office report suggested.

Since 2016, the GSA has worked on publishing a governmentwide inventory detailing the use of almost 400,000 federal assets, which include 130,000 buildings, as well as their location. However, over 67 percent of the street addresses in the database were incomplete or incorrectly formatted, according to the report.

In the Feb. 6 report, the GAO recommended GSA coordinate with agencies to ensure information is accurate and if it’s needed to withhold any security-sensitive information from public release; allow agencies to provide summary data about their activity in secure installations; review anomalies in data to better target incorrect information; instruct agencies to apply a risk-based approach to identify sensitive information; and publicly display available real property data sources.

If these recommendations are not carried out, GSA could inaccurately inform the public and researchers about the activities carried out in federal buildings and if they are accessible to the public, undermining the database’s utility and benefits.

“The lack of publicly available data and data quality issues have posed problems for people wanting to use the federal real property for various purposes, such as leasing or purchasing space that the federal government no longer needs,” the report read.

A GAO report released in December found that, while the agency meets its costs and schedule goals, it does not report the projects’ final costs or if these were revised.

In a letter by the General Services Administration, GSA disagreed with the recommendation to let agencies determine what sensitive information should be withheld from public release because it would make comparisons between agencies more difficult, according to the letter.

The agency agreed with all other five recommendations and said it would take necessary actions to address each of them but didn’t elaborate on what these would be.

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