Telecommunications:

Deficiencies in the St. Louis Defense Telephone Service Should Be Avoided in Future Consolidations

LCD-81-4: Published: Oct 27, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1980.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has established a long-range program, the Defense Metropolitan Area Telephone System, to develop consolidated local area telephone systems for its activities. Discussions between DOD and the General Services Administration (GSA) are underway to create Government-wide consolidated local-area systems. DOD experience with consolidated systems is limited to the Defense telephone service in Washington, D.C., and in St. Louis, Missouri. The Washington system, which is unique in size and complexity, serves military users almost exclusively. The St. Louis system, modernized in April 1979, uses modern technology and serves both DOD and a growing number of Government civil agency subscribers. Thus, the St. Louis system is a more appropriate model for many proposed DOD consolidated systems.

DOD officials, responsible for developing the Defense Metropolitan Area Telephone Service program, and Army officials, currently procuring facilities for the initial DOD consolidated system at Boston, were generally unaware of the details of the operational defects, design flaws, and management problems experienced with the St. Louis system. Modernization of the St. Louis system included installation of special devices to automatically route outgoing calls via the least costly circuit available and to simultaneously create a call detail record for use in billing subscribers for services used. Anticipated reductions in commercial toll costs and improved system management associated with these special devices were not realized at St. Louis. The Director of the St. Louis system derives authority from the Army to operate the system, and concurrently holds a staff position on two local Army commands. The uncertainty of his authority to deal with non-Army subscribers and local superiors generally reduced the Director's role to that of a financial manager acting as an intermediary between subscribers and the local telephone company. The Director also failed to control abuse and misuse of system resources or perform many functions normally associated with good telephone system management. The Defense Metropolitan Area Telephone System presents an excellent opportunity for DOD to eliminate inefficient independent military telephone systems in metropolitan areas.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should devote the necessary resources to correct the design, operating, and management deficiencies of DTS-STL.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should provide the DTS-STL Director with an operating charter, either under DMATS or independently, which is consistent with the system's technology and the community of interest being serviced by the system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should clarify and strengthen the role of the DMATS Director to make the position independent of local military command control to preclude conflict of interest, define the DMATS Director's responsibilities and authority over other military department and civil subscribers to the system, structure the position and supporting staff resources consistent with potential Government-wide metropolitan area consolidation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should develop a policy for consolidation of local telephone service that assigns organizational responsibilities and contains implementing guidelines, procedures, and/or standards.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

    Status: Closed

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

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