Data Base Management Practices at Selected Government Agencies

LCD-76-121: Published: Jul 7, 1976. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1976.

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Five of the six Defense Supply Agency (DSA) supply centers are equipped with one or more central processing units and related peripheral equipment. Each computer center has a large amount of data stored on magnetic disk drives which make up a large part of the total electronic data processing hardware costs. GAO reviewed disk space utilization at three of the centers.

Thirty percent of the space on disk drives on line was not required to support current levels of operations. Unneeded disk equipment could be used at other Government activities to avoid new procurements or to replace rented equipment. Some of the data occupying disk space should not have been stored on disks as it was out of date, contained unneeded system prints, or contained unneeded versions of working data sets. Unused disk space results in considerable cost. However, there was no requirement by DSA that studies of disk space utilization be made, or that available information which could be used to measure disk space utilization be reported. No studies of disk space utilization have been made. At their discretion, functional managers could review the utilization of disk space. There was no written criteria which specified the packing density of data. As long as the functional managers had enough disk space available for their particular files, there was no concern about the total amount of disk space available. In some cases, files were located on disks in such a manner that resulting free space was extremely fragmented, rendering it essentially unusable because the segments of space were too small to be allocated for use. DSA wanted to retain the currently installed disk drives to handle increased workload in the event of mobilization or disaster. A DSA disk drive replacement program is underway which would result in about 70 percent of the space on new disk drives not being used.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should have DSA study its disk space utilization to identify disk drives excess to its needs and monitor the DSA proposed actions for managing disk space to insure that the expected benefits are actually obtained.

    Agency Affected:


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