ADP Procurements:

GSA Needs to Improve Its Review Process to Enhance Its ADP Oversight

IMTEC-92-7: Published: Oct 28, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the General Services Administration's (GSA) management and acquisition of computer hardware and software under the Brooks Act, focusing on how GSA can better ensure that federal agencies efficiently and effectively procure automatic data processing (ADP) resources.

GAO found that: (1) federal agencies spend over $6 billion annually to acquire the essential hardware and software that comprises over 50,000 federal computer systems; (2) although GSA has taken some positive steps to effectively discharge its governmentwide ADP oversight activities, its actions still result in poorly designed, poorly managed procurements; (3) staff instability, an increasing work load, and inadequate recordkeeping and office procedures have limited GSA ability to properly review agency procurement requests (APR); (4) the information reported under the Federal Information Resources Management (IRM) Review Program is not useful because it is incomplete and GSA does not validate whether the information is accurate; and (5) GSA is considering ways to improve its oversight activities, but has not performed the analysis necessary to determine what changes are needed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has overhauled the APR tracking system, making information in the database available to all analysts so they can perform a more thorough review. It is continuing to hold focus groups with staff to improve workload is focusing efforts more on the larger dollar procurements.

    Recommendation: GSA needs to make more effective use of its primary oversight tools, the APR review process, and the procurement and management reviews, to provide greater assurance that the government's ADP resources are economically and efficiently procured. To do so, the Administrator of General Services should collect and analyze data on the problems identified through the APR reviews and use this information to assess the value added by each type of review and, if necessary, revise the three-tier review process so that limited GSA APR resources can be most effectively used.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA expanded the existing database to accept more information on the conditions/restrictions placed on agency delegation of procurement authority. The enhancements allow the system to generate reports on status of the conditions/restrictions and what reports are due from agencies. GSA is pursuing new equipment for the electronic filing and work-paper storage. All APR and management review files are on the database and the information can be accessed by all analysts via a local area network. This allows GSA officials to respond quicker and more completely to management and congressional inquiries. All paper files have been cataloged in a separate room and GSA is developing control procedures to cover access.

    Recommendation: GSA needs to make more effective use of its primary oversight tools, the APR review process, and the procurement and management reviews, to provide greater assurance that the government's ADP resources are economically and efficiently procured. To do so, the Administrator of General Services should improve the operating efficiency of the APR review process by: (1) enhancing the APR database so that it will accurately and automatically show whether any conditions or restrictions placed on individual delegations are on schedule, due, or past due; and (2) developing filing and work-paper procedures that will assist analysts in locating APR submissions and allow auditors to verify that appropriate GSA reviews have been conducted.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA is implementing an electronic tracking system to control due dates on requirements placed in agencies during management reviews. Also, the system looks at all reviews that have been conducted to identify outstanding requirements and/or trends. Also, GSA has restructured the agency questionnaire to allow agencies to do a self assessment prior to GSA's review. GSA then does its own assessments and differences are discussed with the agency.

    Recommendation: GSA needs to make more effective use of its primary oversight tools, the APR review process, and the procurement and management reviews, to provide greater assurance that the government's ADP resources are economically and efficiently procured. To do so, the Administrator of General Services should implement follow-up and assessment procedures to validate the usefulness of the procurement and management reviews. Such procedures should include a tracking system to identify the corrective actions taken by agencies as a result of those reviews. This information should be used to determine whether the reviews should be: (1) expanded in scope to include major organizational components below the department level; and (2) increased so that agencies are reviewed more frequently and receive timely information on how to best manage their IRM and procurement activities.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA is continuing an information engineering effort which is aimed at developing a methodology to assess the data collected during APR and procurement and management reviews, and determine the value added by these reviews. Upon completion, GSA will be in a better position to automate these data and use them more effectively to assess systemic acquisition problems. With the enhanced database, containing information from both current and past reviews (APR and management), GSA can now identify trends and systemic problems with agency procurements. Also, GSA is developing a "trail boss" type course that will be offered to agency oversight officials beginning in 1994. This course will focus on identifying and correcting systemic problems uncovered in the database.

    Recommendation: GSA needs to make more effective use of its primary oversight tools, the APR review process, and the procurement and management reviews, to provide greater assurance that the government's ADP resources are economically and efficiently procured. To do so, the Administrator of General Services should use the results of the APR reviews, the procurement and management reviews, and the Federal IRM Review Program to identify systemic problems that require special attention.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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