GAO Views on Year 2000 Testing Metrics

AIMD-98-217R: Published: Jun 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1998.

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Jack L. Brock, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed its: (1) views on requiring federal departments and agencies to report certain year 2000 testing metrics; and (2) ideas about other such metrics that should be reported.

GAO noted that: (1) it plans to issue a draft year 2000 testing guide that defines a managed, five-phase model for year 2000 testing and specific key processes that are hallmarks of a mature and rigorous testing program; (2) embedded within each phase of the test model and defined explicitly in key processes under these phases are best practices aimed at: (a) defining metrics for measuring test progress and results; (b) collecting data on these metrics; (c) reporting these data, as appropriate, to various management levels; and (d) overseeing and controlling the testing process using these data; (3) the draft guide will also provide examples of metrics that are intended to provide management with timely visibility into test planning, execution, and results; (4) there are no generally accepted standards in government or the private sector for testing indicators or metrics, either for testing in general or for year 2000 in particular; (5) as a result, the specific mix and reporting frequency of these indicators or metrics will appropriately vary among organizations; (6) organizations are likely to tailor the reporting format they use to the management level reviewing them; (7) management must be kept apprised of the status and results of testing activities, and the organization must collect and report metrics that reliably convey this information; (8) if an agency is already collecting coverage metrics and using them to manage its testing efforts, it may not take any significant additional effort to also report these to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in summary form; and (9) if an agency is not collecting and using coverage metrics, it should not be arduous to explain forthrightly to OMB the standards it uses to ensure that testing is complete and thorough, and the measures that it uses to track progress against those standards.

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