Problems Plague National Weather Service ADP System

CED-82-6: Published: Nov 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 1981.

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After 7 years of development and expenditures of $100 million, the National Weather Service has implemented an Automation of Field Operations and Services (AFOS) in two of its four principal regions. GAO examined the AFOS project's justification, technical adequacy, and management.

The Weather Service should halt implementation of AFOS, which is its automated data processing and telecommunications system, until it more completely resolves the system's problems and clearly establishes that the benefits of full operation are worth the substantial costs. GAO found substantial problems in the system's design, operation, maintenance, and management. GAO found that several of the design problems are inherent in the system and cannot be resolved short of a complete redesign. Because of system limitations, the Weather Service has had to freeze the development of AFOS before functions initially planned could be added. To perform these and other added functions, the Weather Service is designing a totally new system which it expects to have in service by 1989 or 1990. Despite the limitations of AFOS, the Weather Service plans to complete national implementation and to use AFOS on an as is basis from 1982 to 1990. AFOS is currently not scheduled to operate until 1984 without backup from the system it replaces, which GAO believes is an unusually long trial period. If AFOS were to be abandoned, it would cost the Weather Service only $28 million to continue using the present system for 8 years. To date, cost overruns of approximately $22 million have been incurred in the development phase. GAO and the Weather Service agree that a new system must be developed. However, GAO doubts that the Weather Service has the staff necessary to simultaneously operate and maintain AFOS and develop the new system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to account for all Automation of Field Operations and Services (AFOS) costs, including the full personnel costs attributable to developing and using AFOS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to account for all Automation of Field Operations and Services (AFOS) costs, including the full personnel costs attributable to developing and using AFOS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to follow accounting regulations prescribed in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109 in accounting for system development costs, including life-cycle costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to follow accounting regulations prescribed in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-109 in accounting for system development costs, including life-cycle costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to establish a project management office and assign all development personnel to that office on a full-time basis in completing the automation of Field Operations and Services system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to establish a project management office and assign all development personnel to that office on a full-time basis in completing the automation of Field Operations and Services system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to appoint a project manager with clear authority for the Automation of Field Operations and Services system and for the planned new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to appoint a project manager with clear authority for the Automation of Field Operations and Services system and for the planned new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to select and enforce standard software development procedures, including documentation and testing for the new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to select and enforce standard software development procedures, including documentation and testing for the new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to contract out system development activities which exceed in-house development capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to contract out system development activities which exceed in-house development capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to adhere to standard software development practices in completing the Automation of Field Operations and Services system and in developing a new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to adhere to standard software development practices in completing the Automation of Field Operations and Services system and in developing a new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to fully document the Automation of Field Operations and Services system software to meet the needs of the developing staff and operating personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to fully document the Automation of Field Operations and Services system software to meet the needs of the developing staff and operating personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to replace the current telecommunications system as part of its development of a new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  18. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to replace the current telecommunications system as part of its development of a new system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  19. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to replace the Automation of Field Operations and services system hardware as part of developing a new, more advanced system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  20. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to replace the Automation of Field Operations and services system hardware as part of developing a new, more advanced system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  21. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis before deciding on full implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  22. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis before deciding on full implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

  23. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to conduct a test of the untested segments of the Automation of Field Operations and Services system before deciding to implement it nationwide.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  24. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Weather Service to conduct a test of the untested segments of the Automation of Field Operations and Services system before deciding to implement it nationwide.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service

 

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