Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

SBA Needs to Strengthen Systems Testing to Ensure Readiness

AIMD-99-265: Published: Aug 27, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Small Business Administration's (SBA) year 2000 program, focusing on: (1) whether SBA has completed repair and replacement work for its mission-critical systems; and (2) the extent to which data exchanges with outside entities have been addressed.

GAO noted that: (1) SBA completed systems renovations and unit testing for its 42 mission-critical systems, and implemented the renovated systems by the Office of Management and Budget's October 1, 1998, deadline; (2) since then, SBA performed integration testing and system acceptance testing to ensure the renovated mission-critical systems will operate correctly after the turn of the century--those tests were completed at the end of May 1999; (3) despite these efforts, however, weaknesses in SBA's year 2000 testing increase the risk that its mission-critical systems are not yet year 2000 ready; (4) SBA's integration tests are incomplete because key business processes were not specifically tested, and tests were not tracked to verify that all key business processes were actually tested; (5) system acceptance tests are incomplete because users did not review test plans, guidance procedures, or data, or participate in the tests; (6) testing of SBA's mission-critical systems has not been independently validated, and these systems have not been certified as being year 2000 ready; (7) SBA has been addressing the year 2000 problem for its external data exchanges; (8) it has reported testing or reaching agreements with 38 of its 58 external data exchange partners, including its largest, which accounts for about 90 percent of SBA's external data exchange activity; (9) SBA is continuing to pursue testing or agreements with its remaining partners; (10) in addition, SBA's approach to end-to-end testing is not adequate because it: (a) does not ensure that software supporting key business areas or functions has been tested; and (b) leaves many potential issues, such as interoperability of internal and external systems, untested; and (11) because of these testing weaknesses, SBA lacks reasonable assurance that its systems will function correctly and adequately support its key business areas and functions beyond 1999.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA completed action to address this recommendation. As of November 29, 1999, GAO's analysis showed that users and technical staff had completed testing SBA's 73 key business processes. To do so, SBA identified its critical business processes and matched them to its mission-critical systems to document which mission-critical system(s) supported each of these critical processes. SBA compared the completed Year 2000 tests of its mission-critical systems with its key business processes and added additional tests for key business processes not already tested. According to its January 7, 2000, report to the Senate Committee on Small Business, SBA has not experienced any Year 2000 related problems with its mission-critical systems.

    Recommendation: To address the weaknesses in its year 2000 software testing, the Administrator, SBA, should ensure that SBA's key business processes have been adequately tested and validated, and develop specific test scripts and cases to test all key business processes that were not adequately tested.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA completed action to address this recommendation. As of November 29, 1999, GAO's analysis showed that users had already certified that 30 of SBA's 42 mission-critical systems were Year 2000 ready, and that SBA planned to complete user certification of the remaining systems by December 7, 1999. According to SBA's Year 2000 Program Manager and its January 7, 2000, report to the Senate Committee on Small Business, SBA users completed actions in all phases of testing including developing test cases, reviewing and verifying test results, and performing additional testing to ensure Year 2000 readiness. SBA reported that as of January 7, 2000, it had not experienced any Year 2000 related problems with its mission-critical systems.

    Recommendation: To address the weaknesses in its year 2000 software testing, the Administrator, SBA, should ensure user participation in all phases of additional testing, including development of test scripts and cases, and validation that systems perform correctly.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA completed action to address this recommendation. As of November 29, 1999, GAO's analysis showed that SBA's independent verification and validation (IV&V) contractor had certified that 30 of SBA's 42 mission-critical systems were Year 2000 ready. The contractor planned to complete certification of the remaining systems by December 7, 1999. According to its January 7, 2000, report to the Senate Committee on Small Business, SBA's IV&V contractor validated SBA's renovation and repair work and tested each of its mission-critical systems. In addition, according to SBA's Year 2000 Program Manager, SBA's IV&V contractor certified that all 42 mission-critical systems were Y2K ready. Finally, SBA reported that as of January 7, 2000, it had not experienced any Year 2000 related problems with its mission-critical systems.

    Recommendation: To address the weaknesses in its year 2000 software testing, the Administrator, SBA, should obtain independent quality assurance or independent verification and validation of the testing and validation processes to certify that each mission-critical system is year 2000 ready.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA completed action to address this recommendation. On December 6, 1999, GAO reported that SBA had completed testing 56 of its 58 data exchanges, and that the remaining two exchanges did not have any year 2000 implications. GAO reported that SBA's use of data exchange testing to support its end-to-end testing was a reasonable approach because SBA: (1) tested transactions from the beginning through the end of SBA's business processes; and (2) mapped its data exchange tests to its key business processes to ensure end-to-end testing of those processes. SBA reported that as of January 7, 2000, it had not experienced any Year 2000 related problems with its mission-critical systems.

    Recommendation: To address the weaknesses in its year 2000 software testing, the Administrator, SBA, should plan and conduct end-to-end testing with data exchange partners for each key business area or function.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

 

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