Land Management Systems: Information on BLM's Automated Land and Mineral Record System Release 2 Project

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-06-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

3 A0
       United States
       General Accounting Office
       Washington, D.C. 20548

       Accounting and Information
       Management Division


       June 6, 1997

       The Honorable Ralph Regula
       The Honorable Sidney R. Yates
       Ranking Minority Member
       Subcommittee on Interior
        and Related Agencies
       Committee on Appropriations
       House of Representatives

       Subject:    Land Management Svstems: Information on BLM’s Automated Land
                   and Mineral Record Svstem Release 2 Proiect

       In response to your April 7, 1997 request, we are providing you with information
       on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Automated Land and Mineral
       Record System (ALMRS) Release 2 information system project. You asked for a
       description of the ALMRS Release 2 project and information on the status of the

       As you know, the Department of the Interior’s BLM is developing ALMRS” to
       improve its ability to record, maintain, and retrieve land description, ownership,
       and use information.    ALMRS initial operating capability (IOC), the initial
       release of ALMRS, is moving into the final testing phase which is expected to be
       completed in November 1997. ALMRS IOC, with new software and upgraded
       hardware, is to provide support for case processing activities and information
       for land and resource management activities. BLM is proposing Release 2 to
       improve processing efficiency and provide additional automated capabilities.

       “We addressed BLM’s progress and risks in developing ALMRS in two prior
       reports: Land Management Svstems: ProE[ress and Risks in Develouing BLM’s
       Land and Mineral Record Svstem (GAO/AIMD-95180, Aug. 31, 1995) and Land
       Management Svstems: BLM Faces Risks in Comnletina the Automated Land and
       Mineral Record Svstem (GAO/AIMD-97-42, March 19, 1997).

                                             GAO/AIMD-97-109R    BLM AI&IRS Release 2


BLM’s mission is to manage public lands and resources to serve the needs of
the American people. It maintains over 1 billion records, which cover land and
mineral ownership for about 564 million acres for which BLM has surface or
subsurface management responsibilities. These records include land surveys,
surveyors’ notes, tract books, land patents, mining claims, oil and gas leases,
and land and mineral case ties.

Since 1993, BLM has been developing ALMRS IOC to (1) automate land and
mineral records and case processing activities, including leasing oil and gas
reserves, recording valid mining claims, processing mineral patents, and
granting rights-of-way for roads and power corridors and (2) provide
information to support land and resource management activities, including
timber sales and grazing leases. BLM expects to complete the development of
ALMRS IOC late in fiscal year 1997, operational assessment testing and
evaluation in October 1997, and independent verification and validation in
November 1997. On the basis of these f?nal tests, BLM plans to certify, in
November 1997, whether the system performs accurately and effectively, and
provides the expected capabilities.


BLM is now planning the ALMRS Release 2 project to add to the ALMRS IOC
system’s capabilities. The ALMRS Release 2 project is in a conceptual stage,
thus information about the project is of a preliminary and general nature. BLM
has recently be,% more detailed planning and, in the next few months, expects
to have a more precise description of the project, articulation of its specific
functional requirements, and cost estimate.

BLM’s preliminary estimate for the life cycle cost of ALMRS Release 2 is about
$42 million. Software development is planned for fiscal years 1998 and 1999 for
a total estimated cost of $15.2 million. Hardware acquisition, planned for fiscal
year 1999, is estimated at $7.9 million for additional servers, additional disk
storage, and upgrades to the telecommunications network. The remaining
estimated cost, approximately $19 million, is primarily for operations and
maintenance through fiscal year 2005.

As described below, the ALMRS Release 2 project is intended to improve
AI&IRS IOC by providing (1) a more economical and efficient database
structure, (2) capabilities that were planned for AI&IRS IOC but could not be
delivered within that project’s budget or schedule, and (3) new automated
capabilities. BLMs preliminary planning documents show that AI&IRS Release
2 will be composed of several modules. Since the project is in the preliminary

 2                                    GAO/AIMD-97-109R BLM ALMRS Release 2

planning stage, the following   BLM descriptions and estimated costs could
change as the Bureau further    defines its requirements.

-   Database ontimization.    This is a remedial effort to redesign the ALMRS IOC
    database structure to improve system performance and reduce long-tern!
    maintenance costs. According to BLM, an optimized database design will
    allow for quicker response times for displaying cartographic products’ and
    will simplify linkages with other natural resource management agencies,
    such as the U. S. Forest Service. The module is also expected to improve
    BLM’s ability to manage data. For example, it is expected to allow the
    Bureau to collapse data models into smaller subsets and employ more user
    tiendly data names. BLM’s preliminary cost estimate to develop this
    module is $5.9 million.

    Access and securitv. This module is to improve overall security for ALMRS
    data. It is to provide a higher level of security for sensitive data, such as
    mineral production and lease data, by adding password protection and other
    security measures. According to BLM, the increased protection is needed
    for the. planned ALMRS environment in which data will be exchanged with
    external customers, including other federal, state, and local government
    agencies; commercial businesses; and special-interest groups. This module
    is also to include a component that will manage internal access to ALMRS
    and maintain passwords, user accounts, and other security controls. BLM’s
    preliminary cost estimate to develop improved access and security
    capabilities is $2.9 million.

    Queries and renorts. This module is to provide a case information reporting
    capability that was deferred from ALMRS IOC and add more reporting
    capabilities for BLM and public users. Case information reporting is to
    replace a number of standard reports and provide users with an ad-hoc
    reporting capability-the ability to select information from databases and
    prepare reports they need-to help them accomplish their work. The
    preliminary cost estimate to develop the queries and reports capabilities is
    $4 million.

-   Cartogranhic nroducts. This module is to improve the quality of ALMRS IOC
    map-based displays so they can be more readily used by BLM field office
    personnel. It is also intended to produce new output products, provide
    more user friendly options to input and edit data, allow for the creation of
    data sets such as geographic grids and ownership information, and delineate
    case boundaries. This module is linked to the completion of the database
    optimization module and the purchase of additional hardware, which are

*Cartographic products graphically depict various information such as land
ownership, mining claims, oil and gas wells, roads, and rivers.

3                                      GAO/AlMD-97-109R BLM ALMRS Release 2

          described above. BLM’s preliminary    cost estimate to develop this module is
          $1.8 million.

  -       Oil and gas nrogram sunnort. BLM currently uses a combination of manual
          and automated processes in preparing oil and gas lease sales. This module
          would integrate and automate those processes and facilitate implementation
          of ALMRS in states with high volumes of oil and gas activities. The
          preliminary cost estimate for this module is $600,000.


  ALMRS Release 2 is in the preliminary planning phase, and therefore BLM has
  not yet performed the detailed planning work needed to fully define and justify
  the project. According to the Assistant Director, Information Resources
  Management, BLM recently acquired a project manager and will be performing
  detailed planning work over the next few months to retie the Bureau’s detailed
  requirements and prepare a technical design for the project. The official also
  stated that BLM is working on the development of a project management plan
  to outline the scope, design, development, and deployment of Release 2. BLM
  expects this detailed planning work to be completed by September 30, 1997, in
  fuIl compliance with the Department of the Interior’s systems development

      We provided a draft of this letter to BLM for review. Bureau officials agree that
      this letter presents an accurate summarization and current status of the ALMRS
      Release 2 project. Should you or your staff have any questions concerning this
      correspondence, please contact me at (202) 512-6253: I can also be reached by
      e-mail at wiElemssenj.aimd@gao.gov.

//Joel C. Willemssen
Y Director, Information      Resources Management


      4                                        GAO/AI&ID-97-109R BLM ALMRS Release 2
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