DFAS Telecommunications:

DFAS Has the Opportunity To Reduce Its Telecommunication Line Capacity

AIMD-97-100: Published: Aug 1, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the use of the 50 data communication lines that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) leases from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to connect its operating locations (OPLOC) and finance centers and the DISA megacenters through one of DISA's common user data networks, the N-level (Unclassified-but-Sensitive) Internet Protocol Router Network, focusing on whether these data communication lines are effectively managed.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO's analysis of the usage data for the 50 leased data communication lines indicates that 29 lines may not be utilized in the most efficient, effective, and economical manner; (2) this situation is due primarily to DFAS not performing a thorough analysis of its telecommunication requirements; (3) to meet the tight time frames prescribed for the consolidation effort, DFAS did not consider critical factors such as frequency of use, peak usage periods, and the volume of information to be transmitted and received; (4) rather, the DFAS Deputy Director for Information Management decided that a start-up line of 512 kilobits per second would provide sufficient capacity for the workload requirements of each OPLOC; (5) as the finance and accounting workload was transferred from the defense accounting offices (DAO) to the OPLOCs, operational problems, such as increased downtime and slow response times, began to surface; (6) to resolve these problems, across-the-board line and equipment upgrades were made without knowing what specific changes were needed to remedy the problem at each location; (7) with the transfer of the DAOs to the OPLOCs virtually complete, DFAS can now thoroughly reassess and revalidate its existing telecommunication lines to determine if they are effectively utilized; (8) doing so would also enable DFAS to identify opportunities for reducing its lease cost; and (9) such reassessments are important because they enable an agency to determine, based on empirical data, whether its telecommunication lines are properly sized, meet mission requirements, and are cost-effective.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to the recommendation, DFAS' Financial Systems Organization initiated a systematic capacity utilization study in August 1997 to determine the maximum utilization on all NIPRNET links from DFAS facilities. In a January 16, 1998 memorandum to the DOD-IG, DFAS' Deputy Director for Information Management stated that DFAS had completed the study. The results of the study indicated that 14 lines needed to be increased and one line needed to be decreased. DFAS further noted that 13 of the 14 lines are backup circuits, which do not have the necessary capacity to restore service in the event of a main circuit failure. DFAS also stated that it will continue to collect telecommunications usage data on a daily basis and will conduct utilization analyses on a semiannual basis in the future.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the long-term telecommunications needs of DFAS are properly defined and cost-effective, the Director, DFAS, should follow existing Department of Defense policy and reassess DFAS' telecommunication requirements, at a minimum considering such factors as workload capacity, utilization statistics of its telecommunication assets, response time, and cost-benefit analyses supporting the use of the telecommunication resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Finance and Accounting Service

 

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