Defense Computers:

SSG Needs to Sustain Year 2000 Progress

AIMD-97-120R: Published: Aug 19, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 19, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the status of the Standard Systems Group's (SSG) efforts to correct the Year 2000 computer problems in the Air Force's standard systems; and (2) whether SSG can ensure that standard systems under its responsibility are compliant in time to process year 2000 data.

GAO noted that: (1) SSG managers have recognized the importance of solving the Year 2000 problem and that failure to implement successful solutions could seriously impact the Air Force's support mission; (2) to its credit, SSG convened the Year 2000 Working Group in September 1995 to examine the Year 2000 problem and to develop a plan for managing it; (3) from that effort, SSG set forth a strategy that is compatible with the Air Force's five-phased methodology, which has been adopted by the Department of Defense (DOD); (4) the steps included in this methodology are also consistent with GAO's structured approach for planning, managing, and evaluating Year 2000 programs; (5) in addition, SSG established its Year 2000 Project Office in February 1996, developed a management-level Year 2000 strategy, and completed the Year 2000 Project Management Plan to guide the effort; (6) SSG has demonstrated that it is capable of realistically planning and managing large information systems conversions, such as the Year 2000 resolution, through its successful implementation of an effective methodology for developing, maintaining, and supporting standard systems; (7) while SSG has progressed considerably toward addressing the Year 2000 problem, GAO determined that it must further emphasize management and oversight of system interfaces to ensure successful implementation of Year 2000 compliant systems throughout its user community; (8) a number of SSG systems must use standard interface message formats to exchange data that are defined by external entities not under SSG control; (9) some of these message formats had not been finalized by the organizations responsible for their definition; (10) recently, SSG Year 2000 Project Office officials began addressing the interface issue; and (11) if effectively implemented by the project office, this effort should be a positive step toward preventing loss of operational capabilities between SSG's internal and external systems' interface message formats at the year 2000.

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