Medical ADP Systems:

Defense's Tools and Methodology for Managing CHCS Performance Need Strengthening

AIMD-94-61: Published: Jul 15, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1994.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) development, testing, evaluation, and implementation of the Composite Health Care System (CHCS).

GAO found that: (1) DOD lacks adequate CHCS performance management tools and methodology; (2) DOD performance measurement tools do not collect the data necessary to detect response-time problems, diagnose their causes, and determine their significance; (3) DOD lacks state-of-the-art analysis tools which would help it determine the causes and effects of performance problems; (4) DOD does not effectively use the limited data collected by its performance measurement tools; (5) the DOD methodology for managing CHCS performance is weak and does not require it to perform routine analysis of extremely long response times; (6) users may refrain from using CHCS to its full potential if problems in response times persist; and (7) the DOD method of providing reserve CHCS capacity is unreliable and may result in excessive or deficient reserve capacity, incur unnecessary costs, and result in unsatisfactory system performance.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In October 1995, Defense briefed GAO on its actions relative to this recommendation. Defense announced that it: (1) is obtaining performance measurement tools for the two operating systems under which CHCS runs; and (2) has assessed the cost, schedule, and benefit of enhancing the Option Audit tools and will enhance the CHCS Option Audit tool to enable performance measurement at the CHCS user function level. Defense added that the enhanced Option Audit tool would collect data on key, critical system functions, and provide for statistical representations of those data in terms of mean, standard deviation, and maximum readings for these selected functions.

    Recommendation: To provide the performance management that a state-of-the-art system warrants, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to obtain performance measurement tools for each computer operating system under which CHCS runs that can: (1) measure system response times at the CHCS user-function level; (2) relate system component utilization with the specific CHCS user functions served; and (3) measure the frequency with which CHCS user functions are employed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In October 1995, DOD announced that it: (1) had developed performance simulation models for all CHCS configurations; (2) is acquiring additional tools for the two operating systems under which CHCS runs; (3) is proceeding with efforts to incorporate simulation modeling tools into the CHCS performance management program for capacity testing and planning, simulation modeling and predictive performance analysis for system changes, and incorporation of the capacity implications of software changes into the product development process; (4) will use the planned simulation modeling tools for both the Virtual Address Extension (VAX) and the personal computer (PC) CHCS configurations; and (5) has efforts under way to extend the simulation model to the regional architecture required to support the San Antonio region and the configurations required to replace the now-obsolete VAX Model 6600 systems.

    Recommendation: To provide the performance management that a state-of-the-art system warrants, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to obtain performance analysis tools for each computer operating system under which CHCS runs that will: (1) enable Defense to determine the causes of response-time problems; and (2) project the impact of workload growth and system-configuration changes on response times.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In October 1995, Defense briefed GAO on its actions relative to this recommendation. Defense announced that it had: (1) finalized Version 5.0 of the CHCS Performance Management Plan, which addresses the procedures for performance problem identification and resolution, the use of simulation modeling tools, and the enhancement of system sizing algorithms to provide reliable measures of reserve capacity; (2) developed simulation models for each CHCS hardware configuration category; (3) enhanced its system sizing algorithms to predict computer resource requirements and capacity; and (4) established procedures for investigating and correcting extremely long response times.

    Recommendation: To provide the performance management that a state-of-the-art system warrants, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to modify Defense's approach to managing CHCS performance to: (1) include objectives for investigating and correcting extremely long response times; and (2) provide reliable measures of system reserve capacity.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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