Army Making Progress on Implementation of Online Real Estate Tool, IG Says
The U.S. Army is on track to deploy a new online application “to identify the existing inventory of space available” at select military installations as part of a pilot program.
The U.S. Army’s rollout of a new online application to track the availability of space at military installations is on track to meet congressional reporting requirements, but officials must remain diligent to ensure that the tool’s layered security framework is effectively safeguarding sensitive and classified location data, according to a report publicly released by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General on March 10.
The Real Property Space Availability—or RPSA—online tool is designed to help the Army keep track of the “over 1 billion square feet of real property inventory within more than 143,000 buildings distributed across the world,” according to OIG. To create the new tool, the Army is “modifying a key existing business system called the enterprise Proactive Real-Property Interactive Space Management System (ePRISMS), a geospatial building space management tool developed in 1998.”
The RPSA application was created in response to section 2866 of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which called for the Army to “establish a pilot program for the development of an online real estate tool to identify the existing inventory of space available” at “not less than five, but not more than 10” military installations. In an August 2021 blog post, the Army described the new tool as “akin to commercial marketplaces like Zillow or Redfin.”
OIG’s report found that “Army officials have completed the initial required steps that set them on the path to meet the 2025 congressional reporting requirement,” including developing a proof of concept for the program, selecting 10 installations “to evaluate the online RPSA application” and consulting with officials from the General Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense before developing the online tool.
In June 2021, the report noted, Army officials also “started developing a layered security framework and policy that would require the pilot sites to use the online RPSA application.” This also included the development of access controls to allow for “appropriate levels of access for private sector users of the online RPSA application.”
“The ePRISMS is located in an Amazon Web Services GovCloud that requires both a DOD Common Access Card and registration process verifying need to access,” the report noted. “In the later phase of the online RPSA application pilot project, the Army considered creating a second application in a public forum with a limited data set intended for use by the non-military commercial sector. Army officials stated that, as of January 2023, the Army had created a functioning application in a public-facing forum, but had not populated the application with listings.”
In its two recommendations, OIG said that the Army should continue to implement its layered security framework and “complete and implement policy that would require the pilot sites to use the online RPSA application to query for existing inventory before agreeing to military construction or off-post leases.”
The Army agreed with both recommendations, adding, in part, that it will “remain diligent in implementing layered security to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive or classified location data by complying with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act and maintaining other best practices.”