Problems Associated With Developing Large, Complex Data Processing Systems

FGMSD-79-49: Published: Aug 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1979.

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To ensure the successful development of data processing systems, the following management principles must be followed: continual planning, a structured approach to managing development work, and effective top management involvement throughout the development process. GAO review of the problems associated with developing large data processing systems centered on the Army, the Veterans Administration (VA), and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

The Army continues to have weaknesses in top management control of its largest data processing projects. VA has weaknesses in all areas of system development, with its management authority so fragmented that it has no assurance that its system development resources will be used efficiently and effectively. BPA has many planning and management weaknesses, including an overall lack of uniform policies, standards, and procedures governing system development. GAO believes that, in order to help top management be more effective, a service center should be established that would provide agencies with managerial and technical system development expertise. Establishing such a center within the General Services Administration or the Department of Commerce, however, raises the question of how the center may be insulated from other services and regulatory functions. Therefore, GAO suggests that a new autonomous federal automatic data processing center should be created.

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