Information Technology:

Need for Better Management of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute

AFMD-82-74: Published: May 24, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute. The Institute's mission is to conduct research on the effects of radiation on living organisms and related matters that are essential to the operational and medical support of the Department of Defense (DOD). GAO was asked to address: management and control of the Institute's automatic data processing (ADP) equipment, software programs, and operations; award and administration of contracts; unauthorized use of ADP facilities; control and protection of Institute assets; administration of time and attendance reporting; and corrective actions taken or planned.

GAO found that the Institute's computer systems were greatly underutilized during 1981. Despite this, the Institute's ADP plan shows an intent to acquire additional ADP capacity over the next 3 years. The underutilization developed because the Institute did not fully justify its ADP procurements, lacked sufficient staff to develop software as needed, and did not adequately plan ADP requirements. Although all but one of the computers acquired were purchased using sole-source procedures, adequate justification for such procurement could not be found. The Institute lacks proper controls over its ADP maintenance contracts and has not assessed the cost effectiveness of the current arrangement. Facility security at the Institute is generally adequate; however, possible unauthorized use of the facilities by authorized people cannot be determined from agency records. The Institute's inventory records do not accurately account for its equipment resources. In addition, the Institute's time and attendance reporting has not been administered well. The Institute has taken or plans corrective actions to address most of the recommendations made by the Defense Audit Service in 1980. However, action on two recommendations has not been taken. The Institute has not yet established a formal peer review of its research program, and the Institute's funding requirements are not separately identified in the Defense Nuclear Agency's (DNA) formal budget presentation.

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 Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to declare a moratorium on any further ADP procurements until the Institute develops an ADP master plan that identifies the computer hardware, software, and people needed to support the Institute's 5-year research plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to follow procedures governing ADP procurements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to establish a reporting process that discloses to top management information on computer usage, adequacy of data processing support provided to users, and status of software support requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to analyze staffing to see how many computer programers would be needed to keep pace with software requirements as they develop.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation may no longer be valid because circumstances have most likely changed since this recommendation was made on May 24, 1982. DNA agreed to implement this recommendation, but the issue is not sufficiently significant to warrant expenditure of GAO resources for a followup.

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to move the responsibility for administering ADP maintenance contracts to the Computer Sciences Department and require that department to properly document contractor performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to explore the potential benefits of less expensive maintenance procedures for infrequently used computer systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation may no longer be valid because circumstances have most likely changed since this recommendation was made on May 24, 1982. DNA agreed to implement this recommendation, but the issue is not sufficiently significant to warrant expenditure of GAO resources for a followup.

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should provide adequate staff resources to improve accountability for the Institute's assets.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation may no longer be valid because circumstances have most likely changed since this recommendation was made on May 24, 1982. DNA agreed to implement this recommendation, but the issue is not sufficiently significant to warrant expenditure of GAO resources for a followup.

    Recommendation: The Director of DNA should require the Director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute to declare as excess one of the three main computers and one or two of the smaller ones that have not been used for the last several months.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Nuclear Agency

    Status: Closed - 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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