Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

Updated Status of Department of Education's Information Systems

T-AIMD-99-8: Published: Oct 8, 1998. Publicly Released: Oct 8, 1998.

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GAO discussed the progress made by the Department of Education to ensure that its computer systems supporting critical student financial aid activities and other processes will be able to operate reliably in light of the year 2000 computing problem.

GAO noted that: (1) as Education has reported to the Office of Management and Budget, it has 14 mission-critical systems, of which 11 pertain directly to student financial aid; (2) three of the mission-critical student financial aid systems are already in operation; five had September 1998 milestone dates for either renovation or validation; and three have future deadlines for validation; (3) at the September 17, 1998, hearing, Education reported that two systems were expected to complete renovation by September 30, 1998--the Federal Family Education Loan System and the Multiple Data Entry System; (4) Education is now reporting that both have completed renovation work; GAO noted, however, a few outstanding issues that will still need to be addressed by the department; (5) two outstanding issues yet to be resolved by the department are the sample size of renovated source code that has been unit tested to date, and official departmental acceptance of contractor certification that renovation was completed; (6) Education is now reporting that both the Direct Loan Central Database and the Direct Loan Servicing system have completed validation but that the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) still requires work to be considered completely validated; (7) one outstanding issue is the formal acceptance of the test analysis report, which was submitted to Education for approval on October 2, 1998, but will not be considered final until Education approves the document; (8) according to both Education and contractor officials, NSLDS missed the September 30, 1998, date for completion of validation; (9) officials pointed out that the missed deadline was due primarily to underestimation of the adverse impact of a noncompliant operating system that was recently upgraded to a year 2000 compliant version; (10) Education reported to GAO on October 1 that 6 of the 162 systems did not make the September 30 deadline; (11) Education has made clear progress; though it did not achieve its goal completely, Education has documentation supporting that most systems met their September 30 deadlines; (12) nevertheless, Education continues to face an immense challenge; and (13) specifically, the department must address the need for adequate testing, the renovation and testing of data exchanges, and the development of business continuity and contingency plans.

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