Blue circuit board with a glowing padlock symbol

Government Facilities Struggle to Implement Cybersecurity

  May 14, 2019

By Dan Hounsell

Changes in institutional and commercial facilities tend to come fast and furious, from incorporating new technology to performing renovations to meet the energy efficiency, sustainability and accessibility needs of occupants and visitors. In the case of federal facilities, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) monitors the performance of buildings in an effort to ensure facilities evolve efficiently to deliver on the investment of taxpayers’ money.

Recently, the GAO stressed that while the General Services Administration (GSA) has done better than the rest of the federal government in implementing recommendations to improve the performance of facilities, a number of critical issues remain unresolved, according to NextGov.

GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro commended GSA in a letter to Emily Murphy, GSA’s administrator, for implementing 92 percent of recommendations over the last five years, compared to only 77 percent governmentwide. But Dodaro noted that of five priority recommendations that have been open since February 2018, GSA has heeded only two.

GSA highlighted four main open recommendations in its report, all focused either on real property management or cybersecurity in federal facilities. One recommendation relates to the effort to consolidate the headquarters of the Homeland Security Department, which GSA indicated it would implement by the end of 2019, but others more broadly affect agencies.

The recommendation with the greatest potential for governmentwide impact is that GSA look for a way to adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity at federal facilities. Although GSA has said it planned to recommend “the addition of language” to a fiscal 2018 survey, GAO says it must do more.

GSA also has not acted to fully implement a recommendation calling for a tool to examine the total costs associated with design choices in some new federal buildings.

“While GSA has updated its procedures for planning, designing and constructing new buildings to further consider operations and maintenance when making design choices, it has yet to develop a tool for estimating the costs of those choices,” GAO wrote.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.



Read next on FacilitiesNet