National Test Facility:

Civilian Agency Use of Supercomputers Not Feasible

AIMD-95-28: Published: Dec 9, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 9, 1994.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed possible civilian agency use of the supercomputing capabilities at the Department of Defense's (DOD) National Test Facility (NTF), focusing on using these resources to support the: (1) Department of Energy in monitoring oil pipeline leakage; (2) Department of Education in developing on-line educational software; (3) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in developing an on-line medical imagery repository; (4) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in developing innovative emergency reaction simulations; and (5) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in climatological modeling.

GAO found that: (1) none of the agencies reviewed could make effective use of NTF supercomputing capabilities; (2) NTF supercomputers are older machines whose performance and costs cannot match those of more advanced computers available from other sources; (3) some agencies have not yet developed applications requiring supercomputer capabilities or do not have funding to support such activities; and (4) future support for NTF hardware and software is uncertain, making any investment by an outside user risky.

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