Defense Computers:

Issues Confronting DLA in Addressing Year 2000 Problems

AIMD-97-106: Published: Aug 12, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Defense Logistics Agency's (DLA) program for solving its Year 2000 computer problem, focusing on the: (1) status of DLA's efforts to correct its Year 2000 problems; and (2) appropriateness of DLA's strategy and actions for ensuring that the problem will be successfully addressed.

GAO noted that: (1) DLA has recognized that the Year 2000 problem has the potential to be the largest information technology dilemma it has encountered to date and that if not successfully resolved, the supply, technical, logistics, and contract services that DLA provides to the military services could be severely disrupted; (2) to its credit, DLA has already: (a) assessed the Year 2000 impact on its operations; (b) inventoried its systems; (c) conducted pilot projects to determine Year 2000 effects on some of its major systems; and (d) developed and issued policies, guidelines, standards, and recommendations on Year 2000 correction for the agency; (3) these steps are consistent with GAO's guidelines and the Department of Defense's (DOD) five-phase approach for planning, managing, and evaluating Year 2000 programs; (4) however, DLA has not yet completed several critical steps associated with the assessment phase of Year 2000 correction that are designed to ensure the agency is well-positioned to deal with delays or other problems encountered in the remaining phases; (5) DLA has not been working enough with its customers and others who have established system connections or interfaces to ensure consistency in handling date information passed between systems; (6) the agency has not included thousands of field-developed, unique programs as part of its Year 2000 systems inventory or made these programs part of its Year 2000 program office's responsibility; (7) these unique programs can introduce errors into DLA's automated information systems just as easily as those systems that have external interfaces with DLA systems; (8) in addressing these two issues, DLA can help ensure the success of its efforts to correct the systems within its control; (9) DLA has not: (a) prioritized the 86 automated information systems that it plans on being operational in the year 2000 to ensure that the most mission critical systems are corrected first; or (b) developed contingency plans to establish the course of action that should be followed in the event that any of DLA's mission critical systems are not corrected on time; and (10) since DLA activities are critical to supporting military operations and readiness, GAO believes that the agency should begin prioritizing its systems and developing contingency plans so that logistics operations can continue even if unforeseen problems or delays in Year 2000 corrective actions arise.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DLA agreed with this recommendation and indicated that written interface agreements with all interface partners were completed during the first quarter of fiscal year 1998.

    Recommendation: The Director, DLA, should require the completion of signed, written interface agreements between DLA and its interface partners that describe the method of data exchange between interfacing systems, the entity responsible for performing the system interface modification, and milestones identifying when the modification is to be completed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Logistics Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DLA partially concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it had already been collecting information on its unique applications. It did not agree to assign responsibility for correcting these applications to the DLA Y2K Program Manager, but rather wanted to leave this responsibility with the Business Area Managers who own these applications and coordinate their correction with the Y2K Program Manager. According to the DLA Year 2000 program manager, the unique inventory was completed and assessed and remediation actions are under way as of the first quarter of fiscal year 1998.

    Recommendation: The Director, DLA, should require that DLA's business managers work with the DLA Chief Information Officer (CIO) to: (1) ensure that mission-related unique applications/systems are included in the Year 2000 inventory; (2) determine if the year 2000 is an issue for each system; and (3) assign responsibility to DLA Systems Design Center's Year 2000 program office for ensuring that all inventoried unique systems are made compliant by December 31, 1999.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Logistics Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DLA disagreed with this recommendation and indicated that it had already prioritized its systems for Y2K correction under the DOD guidance criteria.

    Recommendation: The Director, DLA, should require that the DLA CIO, the Chief of Customer Support Team, and the DLA Systems Design Center Commander develop a Year 2000 systems prioritization, in conjunction with respective systems' customers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Logistics Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DLA agreed with the recommendation to perform contingency planning for all standard, mission-critical systems within the agency. The DLA Y2K Program Manager reported that all mission-critical functions had completed contingency plans as of August 1998.

    Recommendation: For standard systems under control of the Systems Design Center, the Director, DLA, should require that the DLA CIO, the Chief of Customer Support Team, and the Center Commander, in coordination with respective systems' customers, develop and issue contingency plans for all critical systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Defense Logistics Agency

 

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