Information Technology:

The Energy Information Administration Needs To Strengthen Its Computer Systems Development Procedures

RCED-84-42: Published: Jan 3, 1984. Publicly Released: Jan 3, 1984.

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GAO reviewed Energy Information Administration (EIA) procedures for developing automated information systems, focusing on the application of those procedures to the development of an automated hydropower billing system for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). EIA regularly provides computer systems development services for other Department of Energy components.

GAO found that EIA did not have procedures for ensuring that systems development work was properly planned, reviewed, and tested. EIA did not ensure that a contractor's work was based on a study of the needs of potential system users and did not control changes to the system requested by FERC after the system design was agreed upon. GAO believes that, while new systems development standards issued by EIA will alleviate some identified problems, further improvements can be made.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EIA stated that it is conducting such reviews on all work products. However, it took the position that it is not necessary to develop specific procedures to ensure that reviews are conducted at critical stages of the systems development process. Because EIA has adamantly maintained this position for the past 2.5 years, GAO does not believe that the merits of the case warrant further pursuit.

    Recommendation: EIA should develop and implement specific procedures requiring that: (1) a user-needs analysis be performed for systems development projects; and (2) an appropriate management level, depending on the cost of the projects, conducts reviews when significant changes are made to the designs of the systems, at the end of each major development phase, and when planned costs or timeframes are exceeded or other significant problems are encountered.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: Energy Information Administration

 

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