Defense Computers:

Army Needs to Greatly Strengthen Its Year 2000 Program

AIMD-98-53: Published: May 29, 1998. Publicly Released: May 29, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's program for solving its year 2000 computer system problem, focusing on the: (1) status of the Army's efforts to identify and correct its systems; and (2) appropriateness of the Army's strategy and actions to remediate its year 2000 problems.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army relies on computer systems for virtually every aspect of its operations including strategic and tactical operations, sophisticated weaponry, and routine business functions; (2) failure to successfully address the year 2000 problem in time could severely degrade or disable Army mission-critical operations; (3) the Army has taken many positive actions to increase awareness, promote sharing of information, and encourage components to make year 2000 remediation efforts a high priority; (4) it has also enlisted the services of the Army Audit Agency, the Army Inspector General, and various contractors to help evaluate component needs and identify areas that could impact the successful completion of the Army's Year 2000 program; (5) it lacks key management and oversight controls to enforce good management practices, direct resources, and establish a complete picture of its progress in remediating systems; (6) for example, at the time of GAO's review, the Army: (a) did not have complete and accurate information on systems, interfaces, and the costs and progress of remediation efforts; (b) had not completed interface agreements and contingency plans; and (c) had not determined how much testing capacity was needed and available; (7) each of these problems seriously endangers the Army's chances of successfully meeting the year 2000 deadline for mission-critical systems; (8) for example, without good status and cost information, the Army cannot effectively: (a) ensure that all its mission-critical systems are being corrected; (b) identify areas where additional resources are needed; (c) ensure that year 2000 errors are not propagated from one organization to another; or (d) assess whether systems have been certified as compliant; (9) without prompt attention to interface agreements and contingency plans, there is an increased risk that key interfaces will not work and that core business processes will be adversely impacted; (10) without knowing at the department level how much testing capacity is needed and available, the Army will not be able to help acquire additional resources in the event that insufficient capacity is available to meet its needs; (11) together, these problems greatly increase the risk of failure of some mission-critical systems and operations unless corrective actions are taken; and (12) Army officials recognize that improvements in the year 2000 program are needed and have recently taken actions directed at ensuring that the year 2000 does not pose a threat to the Army's ability to execute its mission.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army CIO conducted senior-level reviews with all commanders, Program Executive Officers, and functional proponents to require each to ensure that: (1) inventory databases are accurate and complete; (2) all claims of year 2000 compliance are certified and that completed certification checklists are submitted to the Army Year 2000 Project Office; (3) reliable year 2000 cost estimates are prepared; (4) contingency plans that include specific actions for ensuring the continuity of the Army's critical operations at the year 2000 are prepared; (5) memorandums of agreement for all identified interfaces are prepared; and (6) test plans are developed and additional testing resources are identified. All of the senior-level reviews were completed by October 31, 1998.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO) to require by July 30, 1998, that all Army components: (1) correct their inventory databases, ensuring that they are accurate and complete; (2) certify all claims of year 2000 compliance and submit completed certification checklists to the Army Year 2000 Project Office; (3) provide reliable year 2000 cost estimates that are based on a comprehensive inventory and completed assessments of all mission-critical and major systems so that priorities can be established and informed resource trade-off decisions can be made; (4) prepare contingency plans that include specific actions for ensuring the continuity of the Army's critical operations at the year 2000; (5) prepare memorandums of agreement for all identified interfaces; and (6) develop test plans and identify the need for additional testing resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has corrected the systemic problems such as erroneous database default values, but still continues to perform other quality assurance checks of the data prior to the data's submission to OSD, OMB, and Congress. Nevertheless, GAO views the action taken as completed because the Army has addressed the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Army CIO to require by July 30, 1998, that the Army Year 2000 Project Office ensure that the Army Year 2000 inventory database contains complete, accurate, and current information on year 2000 status. To accomplish this, the Army Year 2000 Project Office should: (1) correct known problems, including erroneous database default values; and (2) perform quality assurance checks of the data prior to its use.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army Year 2000 Project Office, in response to Secretary of the Army and Army CIO direction, has continuously monitored Army component year 2000 progress. As of October 1, 1998, the Army Year 2000 Project Office reported that the Army had completed and approved all memoranda of agreement for all mission critical systems' data exchanges.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Army CIO to require that the Army Year 2000 Project Office continuously monitor components' progress in: (1) identifying all systems interfaces and defining key details of the data exchange between systems interfaces; and (2) preparing and implementing required memorandums of agreement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army hired a contractor to determine if test capacity due to year 2000 would be a problem for the Army. The contractor prepared a report which concluded that test capacity was not a problem for the Army. The study methodology and conclusions were briefed to both the Director of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (DISC4) and the Army Studies Program in late 1998.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Army CIO to require that the Army Year 2000 Project Office negotiate with other entities to secure and schedule additional test facilities if components determine that more test capacity is needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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