Mission-Critical Systems:

Defense Attempting to Address Major Software Challenges

IMTEC-93-13: Published: Dec 24, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) mission-critical systems, focusing on: (1) common software development problems affecting these systems; (2) factors contributing to their continued operation; and (3) actions DOD is taking to address software development problems.

GAO found that: (1) management, requirements definition, and testing problems contribute to significant schedule delays, cost increases, and performance shortfalls of DOD mission-critical systems; (2) current system acquisition policies do not allow for more incremental or evolutionary development; (3) it is difficult to accurately measure the progress of developing software products; (4) mission-critical systems development attempts are accompanied by serious limitations; (5) the software action plan working group is addressing management issues without a formal written plan to guide their activities; (6) the DOD technology plan is intended to assess DOD software needs for mission-critical systems and to define technology investments over the next 15 years; and (7) the data administration program is attempting to provide consistent, unambiguous, and easily accessible data and minimize the cost and time required to make systems and data compatible.

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