Information Resources:

HCFA Must Better Justify Further Data Center Expansion

IMTEC-91-65: Published: Sep 5, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 5, 1991.

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GAO reviewed the Health Care Financing Administration's (HCFA) plans to upgrade its data center, focusing on: (1) the planning and analysis documentation used to support this expansion; and (2) whether HCFA had a capacity management program to analyze its current data center work load and forecast future needs.

GAO found that: (1) HCFA has not adequately justified its planned acquisition of computer hardware needed to expand the processing and storage capacity of its data center and has not adequately estimated or effectively linked user requirements to proposed capacity increases; (2) since HCFA does not have an effective computer capacity management program, it lacks the detailed data needed to measure current computer use and needs and to predict future capacity requirements; (3) growing capacity requirements were based on unsupported assumptions and very limited historical data; (4) HCFA needs to ensure that the process it uses to justify future expansion of its data center follow federal guidelines for the acquisition of automated systems; (5) while HCFA has made progress in identifying its broad needs for information resources, it has not implemented the techniques of capability and performance measurement and forecasting that it needs to translate user needs into specific capacity requirements; and (6) without an adequate requirements analysis, HCFA cannot ensure that it is acquiring appropriate levels of computer capacity to reduce the risk of an adverse impact on the agency's mission.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department has established methodologies and automated reporting mechanisms to more accurately measure existing and projected resource utilization. The Department added that it has developed mechanisms to identify user requirements and obtained software and computer modelling tools for work-load forecasting.

    Recommendation: To ensure that future HCFA computer capacity acquisitions are adequately supported and meet the needs of top management, policymakers, and researchers, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator, HCFA, to work with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Resources Management in developing a requirements analysis that clearly links HCFA information needs with planned data center expansion. To support this analysis, the agency should provide a more precise basis for planning future growth by implementing the methodologies included in good capacity management.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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