Information Technology:

The Bureau of the Census Must Solve ADP Acquisition and Security Problems

AFMD-82-13: Published: Oct 21, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 21, 1981.

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Walter L. Anderson
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GAO reported on problems in the acquisition and security of automatic data processing (ADP) at the Bureau of the Census.

GAO found that the fully competitive computer replacement acquisition is almost 2 years behind the Bureau's initial projections. The Bureau has presented a new revision of the schedule. However, GAO believes that without appropriate top management attention, involvement, and priority, this schedule will probably not be met and the acquisition of essential mission resources will be further delayed. The Bureau must do more to ensure that user applications of the ADP programs are in existing federal standard languages. Currently, two federally adopted standard programming languages are appropriate for use at the Bureau. However, the Bureau has not been enforcing either as a standard language. The longer it takes to implement standard languages, the greater the number of programs that will be written without standardization as an acceptance criterion. At present, the majority of Bureau user application software remains in nonstandard languages. The Bureau has not performed a risk analysis or developed and implemented a sound security program, contrary to federal regulations. Numerous potential physical security problems exist in the Bureau, and access systems for the Bureau buildings are flawed. There are instances where address lists and confidential data are not being protected adequately. Addresses and other confidential burn material must be kept in a locked area until the material is collected for disposal.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct Commerce and Census Bureau information resources officials to ensure that a fully competitive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-109 acquisition is pursued according to schedule.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency is reconsidering the OMB Circular A-109 approach to procurement.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct Commerce and Census Bureau information resources officials to ensure that all user applications are prepared for ease of conversion to the equipment selected in the OMB Circular A-109 process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation hinges on the OMB Circular A-109 procurement which is now being reconsidered.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct Commerce and Census Bureau information resources officials to ensure that a thorough security risk analysis is performed and that the security problems identified by the analysis are resolved expeditiously.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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