JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – A new online real estate tool could potentially help Army garrisons identify available space and lease-consolidation opportunities to save on construction costs, attract new missions, and improve the lives of Soldiers and their Families.
The Real Property Space Availability tool is a “Proof of Concept” authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. It received $1.5 million in Congressional funding in Fiscal Year 2021, $3.5 million in Fiscal Year 2022, and additional funding is expected for Fiscal Year 2023.
David Hulka, Installation Geospatial Information and Services Deputy Program Manager for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G9’s Real Property Asset Management Division, said the RPSA tool brings unique value by combining data managed by multiple systems and aligned with the Army’s geospatial data.
“The tool focuses on better space utilization across our installations and garrisons,” Hulka said. “It’s a combination of not just filling empty buildings but balancing out our overcrowded installations.”
The idea for the RPSA tool originated at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, when congressional interest about the garrison’s vacant space in buildings became known, said Kevin Lariscy, a geographer with IMCOM’s Facilities and Logistics Directorate and ePrisms program manager who helped work on the RPSA.
“The Army informed the Congressional delegation that the garrison had these beautiful, big historic buildings that are sitting vacant, and because they’re sitting vacant, they’re getting worse every day because no sustainment, restoration and modernization dollars are being spent,” Lariscy said. “The commander said he wanted to find a way to find new tenants for those structures. That’s when Congress spoke with Headquarters Department of the Army, and it spoke with the Department of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment about developing the tool.”
Andy Napoli, the Assistant for Stationing and BRAC in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, said: “Once developed and operational, the RPSA has tremendous potential to make Army stationing more efficient. It will help the Army avoid military construction costs and consolidate out of its leased space portfolio by identifying where and when space to receive missions is available for use, at a certain price range.”
The RPSA tool utilizes underlying data compiled into the enterprise Proactive Real-Property Interactive Space Management System, or ePRISMS, with a Zillow or Multiple Listing Systems front end-type program. Environmental Systems Research Institute, which supplies the Geographic Information System mapping software, designed the RPSA software and implemented several applications that RPSA rolled out at the end of FY22.
RPSA allows installations to “list” assets in a searchable database that are available for occupation by other missions or tenants.
“ePRISMS is a good tool, but it’s a bit of a bear to maintain updated data at a large garrison unless you have a person dedicated to it full time,” Lariscy said. “It was good at determining what space wasn’t being used, but it didn’t have a good way for a master planner to highlight that they have space available to anyone who might want to utilize that space outside the garrison. They might know who is on the garrison but trying to attract outside organizations was not easy to do. There was no medium for doing that.”
Besides Rock Island Arsenal, Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Devens Reserve Training Area, Massachusetts; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, were chosen for the pilot program. Five more garrisons – four from IMCOM (White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Fort Meade, Maryland; Detroit Arsenal, Michigan; and Fort Rucker, Alabama) and one from the Reserves (Parks Reserve Forces Training Area) will be brought onboard in FY23 for the second phase.
Although the tool is in the beginning stages, Lariscy said he has noticed numerous benefits.
“It’s in alignment with our priorities, with people first and foremost,” Lariscy said. “We’re beginning to show what can be very hard to understand installation or facility data that only an expert could get to before. We’re trying to put that data into a fashion and medium that a garrison commander, sergeant major or master planner could look at and say, ‘Oh, that makes sense. It tells me a story.’ ”