Defense Computers:

Year 2000 Computer Problems Put Navy Operations at Risk

AIMD-98-150: Published: Jun 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1998.

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GAO reviewed the Navy's program for addressing its year 2000 computer systems problem, focusing on the: (1) status of the Navy's efforts to oversee its year 2000 program; and (2) appropriateness of the Navy's strategy and actions for ensuring that the problem will be successfully addressed.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy relies on computer systems for some aspect of virtually every operation, including strategic and tactical operations; sophisticated weaponry; intelligence, surveillance, and security efforts; strategic sealift and fleet mobilization and readiness; and routine business functions such as financial, personnel, logistics, and contract management; (2) failure to address the year 2000 problem in time could severely degrade or disrupt the Navy's day-to-day and, more importantly, mission-critical operations; (3) the Navy has taken many positive actions to increase awareness, promote sharing of information, and encourage its components to make year 2000 remediation efforts a high priority; (4) however, it is behind schedule in remediating systems; (5) for example, the Navy did not finish assessing its mission-critical systems until December 1997 even though it anticipated that this would be done in June 1997; (6) in addition, it is still in the initial stages of assessing whether year 2000 fixes are required for computer hardware, communications equipment, security and building systems, and other infrastructure equipment; (7) furthermore, the Navy lacks key management and oversight controls to enforce good management practices, direct resources, and establish a complete picture of its progress in remediating systems; (8) for example, the Navy: (a) currently lacks a comprehensive departmentwide inventory of systems requiring remediation; (b) has not been tracking component progress in developing written agreements with their interface partners; (c) has not developed a test strategy for the department; and (d) is not developing contingency plans that focus on ensuring the continuity of all of its critical military operations and business processes; (9) as a result, the Navy lacks complete and reliable information on its systems, and on the status and cost of its remediation efforts; and (10) it has also increased the risk that: (a) year 2000 errors will be propagated from one organization's systems to another's; (b) all systems, interfaces, and equipment important to Navy operations will not be thoroughly and carefully tested; and (c) the department will not be prepared if systems are not corrected or replaced by the year 2000 deadline.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office increased its staffing level from 10 staff at the time of the review, to a level of 16 staff, to ensure that adequate personnel was available, with the necessary authority, to correct the year 2000 problems that GAO identified. In June 1998, the Navy also established a Year 2000 database that gives Navy program managers direct access to detailed system/subsystem information such as interfaces, and various cost data. The Navy has and continues to track the status of its inventoried systems, and according to Navy Program Office officials, continues to update the database to ensure that it is accurate and complete. The revised data are included in DOD's quarterly reports to OMB.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer to ensure that the Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office is provided with sufficient staff and authority to: (1) establish a complete and accurate inventory of its information systems; and (2) ensure that the data problems identified in this report are corrected and routinely validate the information submitted by components to the database.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office increased its staffing level from 10 staff at the time of the review, to a level of 16 staff, to ensure that adequate personnel was available, with the necessary authority, to correct the Year 2000 problems that GAO identified. In February 1999, the Navy reported that all of its mission-critical system interfaces have signed memorandums of agreement ensuring that its systems can exchange data correctly in a Year 2000 environment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer to ensure that the Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office is provided with sufficient staff and authority to ensure that components have identified and corrected interfaces and developed written memorandums of agreement with interface partners.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office increased its staffing level from 10 staff at the time of the review, to a level of 16 staff, to ensure that adequate personnel was available, with the necessary authority, to correct the year 2000 problems that GAO identified. In October 1998, the Navy issued a department-wide year 2000 test plan that provides system manager/owner roles and responsibilities, system/project priorities, a master schedule of high-level test activities, and the test resources to be used in carrying out these activities (people, tools, facilities, and contractor support. The Navy has developed test plans for each level, has completed most system-level testing, and is conducting the functional-level testing and operational evaluations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer to ensure that the Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office is provided with sufficient staff and authority to: (1) develop a departmentwide testing strategy that describes program manager and system owner roles and responsibilities, system/project priorities, a master schedule of high-level test activities for each system/project, and the test resources to be used in carrying out these activities (people, tools, facilities, and contractors); and (2) ensure that Navy components develop their own test strategies and require their program managers and system owners to develop individual test plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office increased its staffing level from 10 staff at the time of GAO's review, to a level of 16 staff, to ensure that adequate personnel was available, with the necessary authority, to correct the Year 2000 (Y2K) problems GAO identified. Acting on this authority, the Navy issued a Y2K contingency planning guide for commanders to use in developing contingency plans and provided procedures for addressing potential Y2K readiness challenges and threats to ensure that Year 2000 contingency planning focuses on ensuring the continuity of all critical military operations and business processes.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should direct the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer to ensure that the Navy Year 2000 Coordination Office is provided with sufficient staff and authority to ensure that year 2000 contingency planning focuses on the continuity of all of the Navy's critical military operations and business processes rather than on only a small portion of mission-critical systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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