Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

Customs Is Effectively Managing Its Year 2000 Program

T-AIMD-99-85: Published: Feb 24, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Customs Service's progress in addressing the year 2000 computing problem, focusing on Customs': (1) progress to date; (2) program management; and (3) future challenges.

GAO noted that: (1) as of January 1999, Customs reported that it had met milestones recommended by the Office of Management and Budget for renovating and validating most of its mission-critical systems; (2) it reported that it had completed renovation, validation and systems acceptance testing of all five of its mission-critical systems; (3) it plans to complete end-to-end testing for these systems and associated telecommunications systems by March 1999; (4) Customs reported that 95 percent of the information technology products assessed is compliant, 4 percent requires renovation or replacement and one percent is to be retired; (5) Customs' program management structures and processes are entirely consistent with GAO guidance, and Customs' good progress to date is largely attributable to this program management capability; (6) Customs has done the following: (a) established a year 2000 Program Office and designated a year 2000 Program Manager in May 1997 and charged the office with authority over and responsibility for agencywide year 2000 efforts, including such functional areas as year 2000 contracting, budgeting and planning, technical support to project teams, quality assurance, auditing and reporting; (b) engaged its senior executives in the year 2000 effort by charging the agency's Executive Council with approving and overseeing the implementation of the year 2000 strategy and resolving such issues as institutional year 2000 priorities; (c) developed a year 2000 Strategic Plan and year 2000 Operational Program Management Plan in June 1998; and (d) issued policies, guidelines, and procedures for managing and implementing the year 2000 program, including guidance on quality assurance, configuration management, and testing, as well as business continuity and contingency planning; (7) Customs still needs to conduct end-to-end testing of the systems that support important trade missions; (8) additionally, Customs still needs to complete its contingency plans for ensuring continuity of its core business areas in the event of year 2000-induced system failures; (9) Customs faces serious risks outside of its control; (10) given the number of Customs ports of entry throughout the United States, localized disruptions in infrastructure-related services could seriously impact Customs business operations; and (11) as Customs works to develop, test, and complete its contingency plans, it must ensure that these localized event scenarios are adequately addressed.

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