GSA On-line Procurement Programs Lack Documentation and Reliability Testing

GAO-02-229R: Published: Dec 21, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 2001.

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The General Services Administration's (GSA) two online procurement systems--GSA Advantage! and information Technology Solutions Shop--lack basic management controls to ensure the systems produce reliable data, can not be inappropriately modified, and provide continuous service. These controls are increasingly important because government agencies are expected to increase their use of these systems and GSA relies heavily on contractors for systems operations and maintenance. Moreover, Congress and other oversight entities need to be able to rely on these systems to assess the effectiveness of government contracting programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In regard to the Federal Supply Service (FSS)/GSA Advantage!, GSA completed the Project Management Plan for documenting the entire GSA Advantage! System on April 30, 2002. The plan includes or references all plan elements necessary to support the Documentation Project for GSA/FSS. For the Federal Technology Service (FTS)/Information Technology Solutions Shop (ITSS), FTS developed appropriate system and operational documentation in accordance with revised FTS guidelines, a review of JFMIP guidelines and industry accepted development practices. FTS completed documentation of the system on October 16, 2002.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) should direct managers responsible for oversight of both GSA Advantage! and Information Technology Solutions Shop (ITSS) to fully document the procurement systems in accordance with guidelines for government financial management systems, such as those in the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Unisys established procedures and deadlines to document any future changes to the GSA Advantage! system by June 23, 2003. In addition to the Project Management Plan, Unisys implemented the following change control processes and procedures: a Configuration Management Plan; a Quality Assurance Plan; a Problem Tracking Process; a Configuration Board Process; and a Process Improvement Plan. The reengineered Information Technology Solutions Shop system has an extensive array of edit checks and constraints ensuring data integrity and reliability. Documents completed include, among others, the FTS Development Life Cycle and the Configuration Management Planning Standard. The latter document was developed to provide a common point of integration of change activities for all Information Technology systems. Good configuration management practices preserve the integrity of all Federal Technology Services Information Technology systems. A new governance framework that includes an Information Technology Resources Board has also been established. The Board is comprised of senior management and program officials that will be reviewing project performance at major milestones.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA should direct managers responsible for oversight of both GSA Advantage! and ITSS to establish procedures and deadlines for documenting any future changes to either system.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA's contractor, Unisys, completed the Test and Training Data Control Specification for the GSA Advantage! system by June 23, 2003. This document describes the data control procedures used in test and training for the software and associated products of the GSA Federal Supply Services Application and Maintenance Enhancement contract. These products are mainly associated with the GSA Advantage! web application. The procedures prevent the entry of test data and training data into production systems. The test and training data are clearly marked as demonstration data, excluded from all reporting, and purged on a regular basis. ITSS addressed the potential problems with data integrity and reliability. FTS has consolidated applications into a single Oracle database structure under a rigorous governance process that reduces the risks associated with deploying automated systems. FTS completed documents that include the FTS Systems Development Life Cycle, the FTS Configuration Management Policy and Configuration Management Standard Operating Procedures documents.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA should direct managers responsible for oversight of both GSA Advantage! and ITSS to establish procedures to prevent entry of test data into production systems.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Unisys developed a data integrity process specification for the GSA Advantage! system by June 23, 2003, that formalizes the process and procedures currently in place to ensure correct data storage and transmission, and to detect possible data integrity compromises along the system's chain of data processing. This documentation describes the data integrity processes used in the software and associated products (mostly the web application) developed and maintained under the GSA FSS Application and Maintenance Enhancement contract. The ITSS Operation Plan, with technical support procedures, was completed on August 2002. The Security System Plan to ensure data integrity and validation controls was completed on September 11, 2002.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA should direct managers responsible for oversight of both GSA Advantage! and ITSS to develop procedures for periodic examination, validation, and timely correction of GSA Advantage! and ITSS data

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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