Auditing and Financial Management:

Millions in Savings Possible in Converting Programs From One Computer to Another

FGMSD-77-34: Published: Sep 15, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1977.


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Frequently, computer programs must be converted to make them run on a computer different from the one for which they were originally devised. The annual Federal cost of such conversions is estimated at more than $450 million; over $100 million of this amount could be saved.

The following factors tend to increase conversion costs: lack of readily available software conversion expertise in the Government; poor quality of software to be converted; inadequate flowcharts and other explanatory data; selection of nonstandardized equipment; and lack of programmer productivity aids. The Navy and the General Services Administration (GSA) are planning a Federal center for software conversion. This center could provide the know-how that is needed in software conversion and make it readily available to all agencies.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Office of Management and Budget should assist in establishing a Federal center for software conversion. When such a center is established, GSA should be able to require independent conversion estimates by the center for expensive agency procurements which have significant conversion costs. The center could also assist agencies in converting programs collected by the recently established GSA Federal Software Exchange Center. Heads of Federal agencies should emphasize quality and standards in new software development, including both the programs themselves and their documentation. The National Bureau of Standards should select and publish a set of programmer productivity aids for Government-wide use to improve the productivity of computer programmers on both original development of software and software conversion.

    Agency Affected:

    Status: Closed

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

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