Greater Emphasis on Information Resource Management Is Needed at the Federal Aviation Administration

RCED-83-60: Published: Nov 24, 1982. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) planning, management, acquisition and use of automatic data processing (ADP) for personnel, financial management, accident/incident/violation reporting and other administrative functions.

FAA has taken steps to improve its ADP procedures and guidelines for initiating and approving national hardware and software development projects. However, despite these improvements, GAO found a number of management and technical problems remaining in these FAA information-related functions. Despite the growing complexity and size of FAA computer hardware and software acquisitions, FAA has not made a comprehensive analysis of its overall information requirements. FAA is procuring excessive computer hardware capacity at the Aeronautical Computer Center and at its regional offices. In addition, major software projects are proceeding or are being developed without appropriate management controls. These conditions prevail because ADP management control and oversight are dispersed throughout the agency. Information requirements planning is conducted on a project-by-project basis. FAA does not conduct overall planning to meet agencywide needs. Therefore, overlapping or duplicative systems have not been identified, long-term planning has been impeded, and evaluation of the overall effectiveness of existing information systems has been hampered. Furthermore, information requirements analyses are not adequately conducted to support computer acquisitions. GAO found that, at the secretarial level, the Department of Transportation could provide better guidance on acquiring, managing, operating, and using information resources to its subunits, including FAA.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOT/OIG is currently assessing DOT efforts to develop and implement ADP systems. Since ADP is a tool used to collect and control costs and identify variances for management review and it has been 3.5 years since this was recommended, this recommendation should be closed. The results of the DOT/OIG work can be used to decide if GAO needs to pursue this matter with another review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to implement standard cost collection and control procedures for software projects and establish a control mechanism to trigger management reviews of high-cost variances.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Information Resource Management Plan requires users to define their needs, alternatives for meeting needs, a cost/return analysis of the investment, a project summary showing relation of project to program objective, project milestones, and project status.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to require user organizations to prepare a thorough analysis of requirements, feasible alternatives, and cost-benefits as a basis for approving software development projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Software management responsibilities were one of the overall responsibilities transferred to the Information Resource Management Program Office.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to shift software management responsibilities from the Information Systems Review Committee to a central office of the type recommended by GAO.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Administrator has staffed the Information Resource Management Program Office within the Office of Management Systems. FAA Order 1370.52 was revised in August 1984 and it sets forth revised Information Resource Policies and Procedures.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to strengthen and integrate its management structure for information resources by placing responsibility for information resource management under the control of a single, high-level official and by creating clear lines of authority to any other official to whom aspects of information management are delegated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Administrator issued the Information Resources Management Plan on August 3, 1983. Chapters 3 through 10 define eight major systems' information requirements within FAA. Each system has identified its goals, objectives, and projects to accomplish the requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA to implement a comprehensive planning process for information resources, including ADP. This process should provide a mechanism to: (1) define information requirements on an agencywide basis; and (2) establish objectives, strategies, and priorities for these requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOT/OIG is assessing efforts to develop and implement ADP systems. Part of the effort includes the development and issuance of a DOT-wide umbrella order applicable to all administrations regarding information resources policy, management, and resources. The results of the OIG work can be used to determine if DOT-wide computer capacity and work load management programs are being developed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to develop a departmentwide computer capacity and workload management program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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