Administrative Systems:

NASA Should Reassess Its AIM Program and Rescind Its IBM-Compatible Policy

IMTEC-90-41: Published: May 1, 1990. Publicly Released: May 8, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) automatic data processing (ADP) procurement practices.

GAO found that NASA: (1) relied on headquarters and each of its nine centers to individually process automated administrative data; (2) did not provide adequate documentation justifying its decision to decentralize the operation of Automated Information Management (AIM) program systems; (3) did not perform comparative cost analyses to determine the number of sites needed to operate AIM systems; and (4) did not consider alternative approaches for implementing new or redesigned systems or ensure that the operation of AIM systems at each decentralized location was the most cost-effective and efficient approach. GAO also found that: (1) NASA did not adequately justify its policy requiring compatible hardware for all administrative computer systems; and (2) negative aspects of the policy that excluded non-compatible equipment outweighed the benefits of the policy.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA decided to continue with a decentralized approach to processing AIM systems. The agency did not analyze the cost and benefit of a centralized approach.

    Recommendation: To ensure that NASA AIM systems are implemented in the most cost-effective manner for meeting its needs, the Administrator, NASA, should direct NASA to determine the most cost-effective approach, including the number of locations and the hardware architecture for operating AIM systems, by conducting a comparative cost analysis of the various alternatives.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA decided to continue with a decentralized approach to processing AIM systems.

    Recommendation: To ensure that NASA AIM systems are implemented in the most cost-effective manner for meeting its needs, the Administrator, NASA, should direct NASA to implement the best approach, given the results of the analysis, which may result in using either an International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)-compatible or a non-IBM-compatible architecture to process AIM at a centralized location, continue AIM on a decentralized basis at each center, or a combination of those approaches.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has rescinded the policy.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should rescind the policy requiring IBM-compatible hardware for all agency administrative systems.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 

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