Information Management:

Technical Review of the White House Data Base

T-AIMD-96-168: Published: Sep 10, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the White House database, focusing on its users and operational components. GAO noted that: (1) users are generally satisfied with the database as a tool for maintaining information important to the Presidency; (2) fewer than 100 White House staff use the database, and the 25 heaviest users represent three White House offices and systems administrators; (3) the Social Office uses the database to develop invitation lists and plan state dinners and other events, the Personal Correspondence Office uses the database to help compose Presidential letters, and the Outreach Office uses the database for generating lists of holiday card recipients; (4) these users believe that the database is critical in performing their tasks, but the database's design is limited because it does not employ certain relational database capabilities; (5) because of additional processing steps, system performance will degrade if demand increases; (6) systems administrators have made compromises to minimize performance impacts that affect data integrity and audit trails; (7) the White House has taken actions to ensure a controlled environment by providing personalized user training, requiring signed ethics documents and passwords, providing anti-hacker defense systems, and limiting user access; and (8) to ensure data integrity and operational effectiveness, the White House needs to document systems security policies and procedures, limit report printing, and establish an audit trail for systems administrators to monitor database operations.

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