Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

USDA Needs to Accelerate Time Frames for Completing Contingency Planning

AIMD-99-178: Published: May 21, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 3, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified actions the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking to develop year 2000 business continuity and contingency plans (BCCP).

GAO noted that: (1) under the leadership of the department's chief information officer (CIO) and year 2000 program office, USDA component agencies are actively engaged in developing BCCPs to prepare for unforeseen year 2000-related failures; (2) however, much work remains over the next several months to complete and test USDA's BCCPs; and (3) the department's December 1999 departmentwide goal for completing BCCPs leaves no room for delays or sufficient time for correcting, revising, and retesting plans if necessary.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USDA's OCIO has instructed all component agencies to complete and test their BCCPs by September 30, 1999.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct that the CIO advance the department's December 1999 timeframe for completing and testing agencies' BCCPs to no later than September 30, 1999.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USDA developed and provided supplemental BCCP planning guidance and and instructed component agencies to prioritize their core business processes, and develop priorities for completing and testing their BCCPs based on importance of business processes. USDA's Year 2000 Program office reviews the agency draft BCCPs to ensure that they are being completed, with emphasis on completing BCCPs for the highest priority processes first.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct that the Undersecretaries for USDA's seven mission areas, as well as the CIO, Chief Financial Officer, and Assistant Secretary for Administration, have their respective agencies and offices develop priorities for completing and testing BCCPs which are aligned with the department's 43 highest priority business processes to ensure that remaining work addresses these processes first.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USDA's component agencies and offices have established milestones to complete key interim BCCP steps that have not yet been addressed. USDA's Year 2000 program office is reviewing the agencies' draft BCCPs to ensure that specific milestones are being achieved and progress is made toward completion of the plans.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct that the Undersecretaries for USDA's seven mission areas, as well as the CIO, Chief Financial Officer, and Assistant Secretary for Administration, have their respective agencies and offices establish specific milestones to complete key interim BCCP steps that have not yet been addressed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Status reports are being prepared weekly and provide details on progress in addressing all key BCCP elements appropriate to each agency. Highlights of the reports are being shared with the Office of the Secretary.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct that the Undersecretaries for USDA's seven mission areas, as well as the CIO, Chief Financial Officer, and Assistant Secretary for Administration, have their respective agencies and offices report regularly to the Secretary progress on meeting these milestones to ensure that the agencies and offices adequately address all key business continuity and contingency planning steps that are appropriate to each agency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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