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General Services Administration: Many Building Security Upgrades Made But Problems Have Hindered Program Implementation
(Testimony, 06/04/98, GAO/T-GGD-98-141)

APPENDIX III

STATUS AND COSTS OF UPGRADES UNCERTAIN

GSA's upgrade tracking system showed that as of March 31, 1998, about 7,000 building security upgrades had been completed, and we estimate that roughly $353 million were obligated for upgrades between October 1, 1995, and March 31, 1998. The source of funds expended on the upgrade program was the FBF. However, actual cost information by upgrade type was not readily available, and the data on the implementation status and actual costs of GSA's security upgrade program are unreliable. We could not reliably determine the completion and operational status of security upgrades in GSA's buildings because upgrade status data were not accurately recorded in the tracking system. Further, the accuracy and reliability of the obligations data are questionable because of errors made by GSA personnel when recording upgrade obligations transactions into the accounting system.

Security Upgrade Tracking System Not Accurate

GSA's upgrade tracking system showed that as of March 31, 1998, about 7,800 upgrades were approved and about 7,000 upgrades were completed in federal buildings across the United States. However, the data shown by the tracking system were not reliable because the tracking system contained numerous errors. According to GSA, these errors occurred because its regional personnel did not always appropriately or accurately record upgrade transactions into the tracking system.

Our review of security upgrade program records of 53 buildings and our visits to 43 of these buildings in 4 regions, as well as visits by the GSA OIG's audit staff to 121 buildings in 4 GSA regions, showed that GSA has implemented numerous upgrades in buildings throughout the country. However, through these visits, errors were identified in the tracking system related to the number of upgrades approved and completed in 24, or 45 percent, of the buildings we reviewed and in 65, or 54 percent, of the buildings reviewed by the OIG. Our comparison of tracking system data for the 53 GSA buildings with information from FPS building files and our observations at the buildings showed errors affecting completion rates (for 24 buildings) and other information (for 6 buildings) in the tracking system for 30 of these buildings, or about 57 percent, and ranged from 46 percent of the buildings reviewed in region 8 to 70 percent in region 11.

For 24 of these 30 buildings, we found (1) upgrades in 20 buildings that were not operational but that were reported as completed in the tracking system and (2) for four buildings, completed upgrades were not shown in the tracking system. In addition, in nine of the 20 buildings, we found security upgrades that were initially approved and then subsequently cancelled, but were still shown as approved upgrades in the tracking system.

Further, for six of the buildings, we found other discrepancies between the buildings' records and the upgrade tracking system. For example, some buildings' risk level designations, security upgrade cost estimates, and types of upgrades approved were inaccurately recorded in the tracking system.

Additionally, in one region, we found that the completion status of the region's security upgrade program was overstated and erroneously reported to FPS headquarters because regional FPS staff were inappropriately accounting for some upgrades. According to regional FPS staff, the term "pending" may have been used to categorize upgrades that had been approved and not completed because (1) the upgrades were for new buildings being constructed or (2) the contracts for purchasing the upgrade equipment had not been signed or GSA funds obligated. Further, the regional staff thought headquarters had instructed that new upgrades approved after March 31, 1997, would not be funded in fiscal year 1997 and should be put in a pending status for funding in fiscal year 1998. According to FPS headquarters staff, the "pending" category was intended only for upgrades not yet approved. FPS headquarters officials became aware of this issue late in fiscal year 1997 while attempting to reallocate among regions funds needed to complete approved upgrades. FPS then instructed the regions to ensure that all approved upgrades were categorized as "approved" in the tracking system because all "pending" upgrades as of September 26, 1997, would be considered for funding at a later time.

Because of the confusion over the intent of the term pending for categorizing upgrades, this region reported in August 1997 an upgrade completion rate of 99.6 percent for level-IV buildings. However, once these pending upgrades were changed to approved, the region's completion rate decreased to 77 percent in October 1997. For the same reason, the region's upgrade completion rate for levels-I through -III buildings also dropped from about 65 percent to about 56 percent over this same period. GSA's completion goal for all level-IV building upgrades was 100 percent by the end of fiscal year 1997.

GSA's OIG issued three separate audit "alert" reports with significant findings related to the building security upgrade program. The OIG audit staff's visits to 121 buildings in GSA regions 1, 4, 7, and 11 showed that 65 buildings, about 54 percent, had upgrades reported as completed in the tracking system that were not completed. In fact, the OIG staff found instances where security upgrade equipment reported as completed was actually stored (sometimes in its original packaging), missing, or not operational. For example, in region 11, upgrades for 32 buildings involving equipment, such as x-ray scanners and magnetometers used to screen people and packages, were shown in the tracking system as completed but were actually missing, not operational, or in storage.

In addition, the OIG staff found problems, similar to those we found, related to security upgrades in 33 of the 69 buildings they visited in regions 1, 4, and 7. They found that upgrades shown in the tracking system as completed had not been installed because of changes in building security needs, use of alternative security measures, or building lessors' opposition to the installation of the planned security upgrades.

Finally, in a separate report, the OIG stated that security equipment costing about $2 million, such as X-ray devices, magnetometers, and cameras purchased for the upgrade program, were found stored in two storage rooms in region 11. Much of the equipment was in its original packaging. The OIG reported that at that time, the GSA region had no immediate plans for using the equipment.

In addition to these errors related to upgrades approved, completed, and cancelled in the tracking system, we have concerns about whether all GSA buildings have been evaluated for security needs. We found that as of October 1997, the nationwide upgrade tracking system contained little or no evidence that building security evaluations had been done for 754 GSA buildings, 14 of which were level-IV buildings. We judgmentally selected a sample of 26 of the 754 buildings to determine whether a security evaluation had been done by attempting to contact a representative from each building's security committee during December 1997 and January 1998. Representatives from 22 of the 26 buildings responded. Of the 22, representatives of 5 told us that a building evaluation wasn't done, 6 said they weren't sure whether one was done, 7 representatives said that the evaluations were done, but the remaining 4 representatives said that evaluations weren't applicable for their buildings because (1) the lease for the federal agency tenants in the building had been terminated, (2) the building was leased and used only for storage purposes, (3) the building was a maintenance garage with access limited to agency personnel, or (4) the building was no longer in use.

For the 11 building representatives that said a building evaluation was not done or that they were not sure, we asked whether they believed that their building's current level of security met the DOJ minimum standards. Representatives of four buildings said "yes"; five said they didn't know; and two said that the standards weren't applicable to their specific buildings because the agencies were moving out of the buildings. Four of the five that said they didn't know also said that they weren't aware of the DOJ minimum security standards.

Similarly, we found no evidence in GSA's building files that security evaluations had been done for a number of buildings that had no requests for security upgrades in the tracking system. During the latter part of 1997, we judgmentally selected 50 buildings in 2 GSA regions that showed no requests for security upgrades in the tracking system, and we found no evaluation on file for 12, or 24 percent, of the buildings. Of these 12 buildings, 1 was a level II, 8 were level IIIs, and 3 were level IVs. Ten of the 12 buildings were in one GSA region.

FPS regional officials told us that they were not sure that evaluations had been done for all GSA buildings. They said that although they had attempted to obtain evaluations on all buildings, not all building security committees had provided evaluations.

Table III.1 provides upgrade completion status information we compiled from the tracking system as of different points in time during program implementation. The note at the end of the table provides upgrade status information as of March 31, 1998, which was provided to us by FPS in late April 1998.

Table III.1: Number of Buildings with Approved Upgrades; Number of Upgrades Approved, Completed, and Voided; and Estimated Costs By Security Level as of Mar. 25, 1996, Aug. 29, 1997, Oct. 3, 1997, and Dec. 30, 1997

 

Security risk level

As of date

Number of buildings with approved upgrades

Number of upgrades

approved

Number of upgrades completed

Percent of approved upgrades completed

No. voided upgrades previously approved

Estimated capital costs

Estimated annual operating costs

*Total estimated costs

IV

3/25/96

632

3,752

N/A

N/A

N/A

$86,464,000

$86,712,000

$173,176,000

 

8/29/97

681

3,790

3,315

87.5%

1,360

99,103,450

68,711,348

167,814,798

 

10/3/97

699

4,013

3,503

87.3

1,432

111,601,661

76,765,746

188,367,407

 

12/30/97

683

3,836

3,402

88.7

1,459

102,073,684

67,647,011

169,720,695

III

3/25/96

358

1,097

N/A

N/A

N/A

15,842,000

12,793,000

28,635,000

 

8/29/97

359

973

727

74.7

473

12,933,733

12,527,197

25,460,930

 

10/3/97

368

1,030

828

80.4

511

14,473,940

13,092,721

27,566,661

 

12/30/97

357

984

798

81.1

526

13,310,690

11,622,264

24,932,954

II

3/25/96

1,348

2,977

N/A

N/A

N/A

22,791,000

14,117,000

36,908,000

 

8/29/97

1,104

2,268

1,698

74.9

1,294

12,581,987

10,712,357

23,294,344

 

10/3/97

1,120

2,327

1,944

83.5

1,337

13,946,715

10,786,679

24,733,394

 

12/30/97

1,115

2,310

2,015

87.2

1,355

14,136,904

11,426,275

25,563,179

I

3/25/96

451

751

N/A

N/A

N/A

6,927,000

5,458,000

12,385,000

 

8/29/97

370

583

454

77.9

246

3,019,216

1,793,648

4,812,864

 

10/3/97

379

642

510

79.4

259

4,432,516

2,149,894

6,582,410

 

12/30/97

409

755

626

82.9

312

12,667,600

11,285,743

23,953,343

Totals

3/25/96

2,789

8,577

N/A

N/A

N/A

$132,024,000

$119,080,000

$251,104,000

 

8/29/97

2,514

7,614

6,194

81.4%

3,373

127,638,386

93,744,550

221,382,936

 

10/3/97

2,566

8,012

6,785

84.7

3,539

144,454,832

102,795,039

247,249,871

 

12/30/97

2,564

7,885

6,841

86.8

3,652

142,188,879

101,981,293

244,170,172

 

Note: GSA/FPS headquarters provided us a completion status update as of March 31, 1998--For all levels, 6,997, or 90.1 percent of 7,764 approved upgrades, were reported as completed. For level-IV buildings, 3,416, or 88.8 percent, of 3,848 approved upgrades were reported as completed. For levels-I through -III buildings, 3,581, or 91.4 percent were reported as completed. GSA/FPS did not provide us with information on the number of buildings with approved upgrades. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Source: Compiled by GAO from GSA/FPS security upgrade tracking system.

Actual Costs Of Upgrades Not Readily Available

By Type And Obligations Data Not Reliable

Based on data obtained from GSA's accounting system, we estimated that from October 1, 1995, through March 31, 1998, obligations of roughly $353 million were incurred for the building security upgrade program, and all of these funds were obtained from the FBF. However, we could not readily obtain actual cost information by upgrade type because, according to GSA, its accounting system was not designed to provide obligations incurred by upgrade type. In addition, the obligations data shown by the accounting system were not reliable because GSA personnel did not always appropriately and accurately record the obligations incurred for upgrades in the accounting system.

Although actual cost information by upgrade type was not readily available, to provide an indication of the costs incurred by GSA by upgrade type, we compiled from the upgrade tracking system data showing the estimated costs of upgrades by upgrade category. These estimated costs data are shown in table III.2. However, as we discuss in detail in appendix IV, many of the estimated costs of upgrades differed significantly from the actual obligations incurred by GSA to complete the upgrades.

Table III.2: Summary of Estimated Costs of Approved Security Upgrades Types By Category as of December 30, 1997

Security category--upgrade type

Number of upgrades

Estimated capital costs

Estimated operating costs

Perimeter Security--includes closed circuit televisions, physical barriers, security lighting, fences, gates, etc.

2,648

$74,346,347

$31,106,567

Entry Security--includes access control systems, X-rays/ magnetometers, security guards, intrusion detection systems, security locks, etc.

3,166

51,347,945

68,514,569

Interior Security--includes employee/visitor ID, emergency power backup, etc.

1,025

12,409,656

761,464

Other security planning--intelligence sharing, training, tenant assignment, construction/ renovation, etc.

1,046

4,084,932

1,598,692

Total

7,885

$142,188,880

$101,981,292

 

Source: Compiled by GAO from GSA/FPS's security upgrade tracking system as of December 30, 1997.

In August 1997, FPS headquarters staff attempted to identify regions having unneeded upgrade funding allowances that could be shifted to other regions needing funds to complete approved upgrades. They were unable to complete this effort until October 1997 because of the numerous discrepancies they found between the upgrade obligations in GSA's accounting system and the approved and completed upgrade data in the tracking system. Although not all of the discrepancies could be explained, FPS regional staff's research provided some insight.

In one FPS headquarters analysis, obligations totaling $5.1 million for upgrades in 109 buildings in 10 GSA regions were found in the accounting system, but no corresponding approved upgrades were found in the tracking system. These obligations ranged from $16 to $662,912. Regional staff were able to determine the cause for most of this $5.1 million discrepancy between the accounting and tracking systems--$1.2 million had been recorded in error to other buildings; $1.6 million were valid obligations but the corresponding upgrades had inadvertently not been entered into the tracking system; about $0.6 million were valid, but corresponding upgrades had been cancelled and voided in the tracking system; $0.9 million had been erroneously entered into the accounting system--the obligations were not related to the building security upgrade program.

In a second FPS headquarters analysis, the tracking system showed completed upgrades for 386 buildings in 10 regions with estimated costs of about $9.7 million, for which there were no corresponding obligations recorded in the accounting system. Regional staff were able to explain some of these discrepancies: (1) about $2 million of the $9.7 million in estimated upgrade costs were borne by either the tenant agencies or the building lessors, not by GSA; (2) about $0.2 million in obligations were recorded in error in the accounting system to other FBF programs instead of the security upgrade program; and (3) about $0.2 million related to upgrades erroneously recorded in the tracking system as completed when, in fact, they had been voided.

Table III.3 compares contract security guard and security system capital budgets and obligations obtained from GSA's accounting system for fiscal years 1996 through March 31, 1998, with similar obligations for fiscal year 1994, prior to the Oklahoma City bombing. As shown by the table, GSA's contract guard costs have risen significantly from $23 million in 1994 to almost $63 million through only the first 6 months of fiscal year 1998.

Table III.3: Comparison of Fiscal Years 1996 through March 31, 1998, Building Security Upgrade Program Budget Allowances and Obligations With Fiscal Year 1994 Pre-Upgrade Program Obligations

Fiscal year

budget allowances/obligations

FBF

FBF Totals

 

Budget activity 61,

Building operations

Budget activity 54, Basic repairs and alterations

 
 

Contract security guards

(K-2x)

Security systems

(K-36)

Security upgrade program (K-36 capital costs)

K-2x, K-36,

Budget activity 61

K-36,

Budget activity 54

Budget activities 61 and 54

 

($000)

($000)

($000)

($000)

($000)

($000)

Fiscal year 1994 (pre-upgrade program)

Actual obligations

$22,951

$3,724

$0

$26,675

$0

$26,675

Fiscal year 1996

Budget allowances to regions

$26,434

$5,364

$77,758

$31,798

$77,758

$109,556

Actual FBF obligations

59,463

778

57,719

60,241

57,719

$117,960

Fiscal year 1997

Budget allowances to regions

115,973

8,459

63,438

124,432

63,438

$187,869

Actual obligations

102,903

1,325

53,279

104,228

53,279

$157,507

Fiscal year 1998 (as of March 31, 1998)

Budget allowances to regions

124,941

5,267

0

130,208

0

$130,208

Actual obligations

62,970

991

13,450

63,961

13,450

$77,411

Total--fiscal years 1996-1998 (as of March 31, 1998)

Budget allowances to regions

$267,348

$19,090

$141,196

$286,438

$141,196

$427,634

Actual obligations

$225,336

$3,094

$124,447

$228,430

$124,447

$352,877

Note 1: GSA's accounting system provides for coding FBF obligations by budget activities, such as basic repairs and alterations (BA-54) and building operations (BA-61), which have been the primary budget activities funding the building security upgrade program. Within the FBF budget activities, the system also provides for coding obligations by functions, such as the K-series function codes that were established for the FPS law enforcement and security programs. The primary K-codes applicable to the upgrade program have been the K-1x series--uniformed operations (police officers), K-2x series--contract guard services, and K-36--security systems/equipment. GSA established new, specific K-codes to enable identifying and tracking (1) police and contract guard services for the upgrade program (operations costs) as distinguished from the level of contract guard services for normal security prior to the Oklahoma City bombing and from the level of police and contract guard services for moderate security provided since the bombing and (2) the capital costs of upgraded security systems equipment and other capital security measures, such as building perimeter barriers and parking lot fencing and gates. However, GSA did not establish the new K-codes for the upgrade program until March 1996, nearly 6 months into fiscal year 1996 activities. PBS Controller staff advised us that upgrade costs such as for police and contract guard services were not always correctly coded as upgrade program costs and that costs charged to normal security operations prior to the new K-codes may not have been corrected. Thus, for this table, we are showing the regional budget allowances GSA provided and the obligations reported in the accounting system for all BA-61 contract guard services, K-2x series, and security systems upgrades, K-36, and for BA-54, the K-36 capital upgrade obligations recorded. However, GSA did not issue specific BA-61 regional budget allowances for K-36, so the budget amounts GSA gave us are for all BA-61, K-3x series function codes. FPS has managed its police officer operations as a separate program from the building security upgrade program, and thus we have not included the K-1x series in the above table. From fiscal year 1996 through March of fiscal year 1998, about $65.592 million had been obligated in the K-1x series for federal protective police officers. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Note 2: Not shown in this table are FBF funds appropriated in fiscal year 1997 for security upgrade capital costs under GSA's new construction program (BA-51) of about $27.3 million and major repairs and alterations (BA-55) of $2.7 million. Of the $27.3 million from BA-51, GSA provided budget allowances to its regions of about $6.7 million and in fiscal year 1997 through April 30 of fiscal year 1998 had obligated only about $53,000. None of the $2.7 million from BA-55 had been provided as regional budget allowances or had been obligated. Also as of April 30, 1998, GSA added about $2.9 million in fiscal year 1998 FBF BA-54 funds to the regional budget allowance totals and actual obligations in fiscal year 1998 for security upgrades had increased by $1.698 million to $15.148 million. We did not obtain actual BA-61 obligations for security operations as of April 30, 1998.

Source: GSA Public Buildings Service Comptroller's Office staff.