Information Management:

The Treasury Department and Its Bureaus Can Better Plan for and Control Computer Resources

GGD-82-9: Published: Feb 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Department of the Treasury's and its bureaus' use of computer resources in achieving their missions. The objectives of the review were to: (1) evaluate how effectively these resources are managed by Treasury and its bureaus; (2) determine if they could be better used; and (3) recommend improvements where needed.

Treasury has lacked an effective means of implementing policies and procedures for managing computer resources. Congressional concern over a similar lack of top management oversight of information resources in other government agencies has resulted in the recent passage of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. This act, particularly its provision for designating a senior official to report directly to the head of the agency and to be responsible for carrying out the act within the agency, can substantially improve the management of computers and other information-related activities if properly implemented. Many Treasury bureaus have not established a formalized, coordinated system for forecasting automatic data processing (ADP) needs sufficiently to allow for the orderly acquisition of computer resources to satisfy these requirements. The absence of top management and user involvement and participation in formulating long-range computer growth strategy has resulted in Treasury bureaus having either too much or too little computer capacity, excessive costs of operations, and unmet user needs. Although some Treasury bureaus have done limited testing and measuring of equipment utilization and in some cases have evaluated performance, these efforts are only part of an effective performance management program. Other critical elements, such as establishing standards and goals, periodically assessing products, and optimizing software efficiency, have been lacking.

Status Legend:

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  • 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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should provide the senior official with sufficient rank to demonstrate the importance of the position and to facilitate the implementation of policies and procedures that are issued by the official. At a minimum, the official should be the Assistant Secretary or equivalent rank so that it is clear to all levels of management that the official is the direct representative of the Secretary in all matters regarding information management.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The senior official, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, within Treasury is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Systems. This official reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Management who has primary oversight of all internal Treasury operations. This provides sufficient rank to demonstrate the importance of the position and to implement policies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that the senior official has adequate staff resources to meet the responsibilities imposed by the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: With the establishment of the Office of Electronic Systems and Information Technology, Treasury has significantly enhanced the staff resources devoted to the responsibilities imposed by the Paperwork Reduction Act. Similar resources have now been provided to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should have each bureau, and other offices where appropriate, name an individual to report directly to the bureau head and assist the senior official in implementing the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act within the bureau. These individuals should have the authority and staff necessary for implementing the policies and procedures established by the senior official.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-02, Organizing the Information Systems Function, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to ensure that each of Treasury's bureaus establish computer resource steering committees consisting of user and data processing management, and chaired by the bureau head or deputy, and charge these committees with responsibility for assessing computer resource needs on a periodic basis and formulating an effective growth strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-02, Organizing the Information Systems Function, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to ensure that Treasury's bureaus develop and implement standardized and formalized systems development procedures that provide a logical and systematic approach for developing systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-30, System Development Life Cycle, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the senior official to require that the development and installation of computer resource accounting systems be expedited in Treasury's bureaus.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Given the adaptation of consolidated Information Resources Management concepts within Treasury, it believes the requirement for installation of computer resource accounting systems is not necessarily valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to ensure that Treasury's bureaus develop and implement standardized and formalized systems development procedures that assure agreement and understanding between users and systems development staff as to what the end product will provide.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-30, System Development Life Cycle, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to ensure that Treasury's bureaus develop and implement standardized and formalized systems development procedures that provide the steering committee and management at all levels with a mechanism for reviewing progress and problems at key decision points.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-30, System Development Life Cycle, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to have each of Treasury's bureaus establish a performance management program for computer resources that should focus on developing performance standards based on specific user requirements but within the limits of overall capacity and capability.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-05, Information Systems Capacity Management and Performance Measurement, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to have each of Treasury's bureaus establish a performance management program for computer resources that should focus on periodic and routine monitoring of the efficiency and effectiveness of the bureaus' computer resources in meeting these requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-05, Information Systems Capacity Management and Performance Measurement, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to have each of Treasury's bureaus establish a performance management program for computer resources that should focus on consistent and uniform reporting to management of performance trends and areas needing improvement.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-05, Information Systems Capacity Management and Performance Measurement, which implements this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should limit the senior official's duties and responsibilities to those required by the Paperwork Reduction Act to ensure that the official can devote sufficient time and attention to enforcing the act, ensure the independence and objectivity of the official, and impress upon Treasury and bureau management the critical importance of the position.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury Directive 81-009, dated July 2, 1985, assigned the Deputy Assistant Secretary (Management) for Information Systems responsibility for developing information system management policy and procedures. The report's scope was limited to ADP aspects of the act.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the designated senior official to have each of Treasury's bureaus establish a performance management program for computer resources that should focus on developing and implementing a long-range strategy for improving performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has issued TD-81-05, Information Systems Capacity Management and Performance Measurement, which implements this recommendation.

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