Data analysis to let GSA make real-property decisions

The General Services Administration will be able to make informed decisions starting next year about whether to maintain or sell federal real property as a result of standardizing the collection of certain data and acquiring the technical capability to analyze that data, a senior GSA official said today.

Fiscal 2005 was the first year that agencies reported real-property management data in Extensible Markup Language to GSA on four performance measures detailed in 23 standardized fields, said Stan Kaczmarczyk, acting deputy associate administrator in GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. He has been GSA's deputy associate administrator for GSA's Office of Real Property Management. Agencies use a module of asset management systems to conduct and report their inventory.

The performance measures include the mission involved with the building, operating costs, utilization and physical condition.

GSA's Federal Real Property Profile system contains the land, building and structure records of federal agencies. By mid-summer, GSA will begin using an application developed by 3H Technology LLC of Reston, Va.., to integrate and analyze the property data, Kaczmarczyk said.

'It will help make sense of the data,' he said after an industry event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Vista Technology Services Inc. of Herndon, Va., on the link between real-property management and full financial accountability. For example, the application will be designed to parse the data geographically, by mission or building size.

Congress also may pass legislation this year that will let agencies retain up to 20 percent of the proceeds from the sale of its buildings, Kaczmarczyk said. The funds could help defray the costs for agencies of maintaining deteriorating buildings. All sales proceeds currently go to the Treasury Department. The federal government has a backlog of up to $9 billion in deferred maintenance on its buildings, he said.

A smaller federal workforce, changing agency missions and the pervasive use of technology has reduced the utilization of many government buildings, said a report last year from the Government Accountability Office. Real-property management also is on GAO's federal high-risk list.

Recent federal requirements have put real-property management under more scrutiny by the Office of Management and Budget. Agencies need to have internal controls in place related to real property as part of OMB's Circular A-123 to assure that their financial statements are correct. Agency heads must sign an assurance statement by June 30 that internal controls are in effect.

Agencies have been required to inventory and manage their real property as part of financial management for many years, but they received little funding or systematic guidance to do so. 'Once OMB made it part of the PMA, agencies started paying attention to it,' Kaczmarczyk said.

President Bush issued an executive order in 2004 to establish a senior real-property officer, implement agency real-property and asset management plans, create an interagency Federal Real Property Council to share best practices and develop a single and descriptive database of federal real properties. OMB then made real-property management an element of the President's Management Agenda scorecard.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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