Space:

Better Management Controls and ADP Requirements Analysis Can Help NASA Lewis Research Center

IMTEC-84-25: Published: Sep 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1984.

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GAO reported on automatic data processing (ADP) equipment acquisition practices at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Lewis Research Center.

GAO found that a recent ADP solicitation reduced maximum practicable competition and removed competitive cost advantages potentially held by other vendors. Further, the Center could not determine the appropriate size and timing for future computer equipment upgrades. GAO believes that the solicitation could have had a detrimental impact on competition and price. GAO also believes that the Center's management cannot accurately predict future computer equipment needs because it has not developed the cost and performance information necessary for a comprehensive requirements analysis. GAO noted that, although management has taken steps to improve its management controls and its process for analyzing its requirements, it can do more to effectively acquire ADP resources.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Management at the Center undertook a comprehensive survey of ADP resource requirements in November 1985. Primary computer users were surveyed with written questionnaires and follow-up interviews. The results of this process continues, but this data is reflected in the Center's most recent annual Information Technology System plan, which has the concurrence of several senior managers.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Director of the Lewis Research Center to implement a comprehensive requirements analysis process that will produce appropriate data for estimating future needs before upgrades or additional equipment is required. As part of this process, the Center should require top management to validate the comprehensive requirements analysis process based on mission needs and available funds.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Center established a new, comprehensive cost reporting process for all computer users. The concept was adopted by the Center's senior management late in 1984. Based on an algorithm which accounts for the different prices of ADP equipment used by different users, this system reports the monthly value of all ADP resources consumed by the various Center divisions.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Director of the Lewis Research Center to implement a comprehensive requirements analysis process that will produce appropriate data for estimating future needs before upgrades or additional equipment is required. As part of this process, the Center should report ADP costs to all computer users so they are aware of the value of ADP resources consumed and can use this data when estimating new requirements.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Center did not implement an ADP cost accounting system structured by time of day, but it was reviewed by a Center study group. Top management concerns over the high cost associated with modifying system software and the limited impact this technique could have on improving computer work load management resulted in a decision to defer implementation. The Center may reconsider in the future.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Director of the Lewis Research Center to implement a comprehensive requirements analysis process that will produce appropriate data for estimating future needs before upgrades or additional equipment is required. As part of this process, the Center should structure costs of computer operations by time of day if Center officials determine that this control would be cost-effective.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Center uses performance measurement and analysis on a regular basis for all major ADP systems. These procedures involve the use of both hardware and software monitors and result in reports which facilitate optimization of system performance. Additionally, these reports regularly inform Center line managers about systems' utilization and how this may affect jobs.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Director of the Lewis Research Center to implement a comprehensive requirements analysis process that will produce appropriate data for estimating future needs before upgrades or additional equipment is required. As part of this process, the Center should regularly analyze performance on the newly acquired IBM-compatible computers using the acquired hardware monitor and the software tools that will be available with the new operating system software.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 

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