Defense Procurement:

Improvement Needed in Technical Data Management

NSIAD-92-23: Published: Feb 25, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) management of its technical data repositories, focusing on: (1) the timeliness of DOD responses to technical data requests, particularly from small businesses; (2) the adequacy of the data DOD provides; and (3) DOD actions to improve technical data access.

GAO found that: (1) although repositories were required to maintain records on data technical requests, they were unable to evaluate how quickly they responded to requests or determine the status of received requests, since they lacked logs and other records to measure their efforts; (2) although the majority of the 23 private contractors reviewed stated that the repositories generally responded to their data requests in a timely manner, 19 contractors, or about 83 percent, reported having experienced data quality problems, including illegible drawings, obsolete data, and inaccurate or incomplete information; (3) contractors reported general dissatisfaction with repositories' efforts to resolve data quality problems and difficulty communicating with government personnel about the problems; (4) repository managers stated that they were unable to resolve data quality problems, since the problems often originated during the acquisition process, and they were only responsible for receiving, storing, and distributing data; (5) DOD is relying on automation to improve its technical data repository operations; and (6) data quality problems inhibit contractors from competing for government work or completing their requirements under government contracts. GAO also found that: (1) the Army and the Air Force have jointly implemented an automation plan, and seven Army and five Air Force repositories are in the process of converting their data to the new systems; and (2) although the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) are implementing a joint plan, their automation efforts are slower due to funding and technology difficulties.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department concurs and reinforced its guidance to the military services and DLA to ensure compliance with appropriate existing internal control requirements. The reinforcing guidance was promulgated by a memorandum issued to the military services and DLA on September 30, 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service Secretaries and the Director, DLA, to require that each of the military services and DLA technical data repository managers ensure compliance with the appropriate internal control requirements designed to: (1) measure the timely fulfillment of technical data requests; and (2) determine the status of in-process requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department concurs and provided guidance, on October 19, 1992, to the military services and DLA to review and reinforce existing direction to those organizations within the acquisition and logistics communities responsible for ensuring the currency, technical accuracy, and completeness of technical data acquired by the Department.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service Secretaries and the Director, DLA, to reinforce their guidance to those organizations and entities charged with the responsibility of analyzing and accepting technical data for DOD to ensure that technical data accepted during the acquisition process is as current, accurate, and complete as possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department concurs and provided guidance, on October 19, 1992, to the military services and DLA to review and reinforce existing procedures to ensure that the functional or technical requester of data for use in an acquisition provides the appropriate contracting office with a point of contact and the telephone number of persons with expertise to solve technical problems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service Secretaries and the Director, DLA, to require procurement offices and repository sites to include in each solicitation the area code and telephone number of the persons designated to handle inquiries or to make proper referrals to persons with requisite engineering expertise who can solve technical data problems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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