Continued Use of Costly, Outmoded Computers in Federal Agencies Can Be Avoided

AFMD-81-9: Published: Dec 15, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 1980.

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Computers in the Federal inventory are out of date, only 2 percent of the large- and medium-scale computers use 1975 or later technology. Newer equipment of similar capacity could use existing software without significant changes; provide such benefits as faster speeds, better reliability, greater capabilities, and lower energy consumption; and avoid costly operations.

Agencies have not recognized the costs and problems of continuing to use outmoded equipment. Guidance is needed to assist Federal managers' implementation of current technology, but such guidance has not been issued. Better knowledge of computer technology would enable Federal managers to better recognize and evaluate available economical alternatives. The present acquisition cycle is long, complicated, and frustrating and has contributed to the obsolescence of Federal computers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should require Federal agencies to: (1) assess their automatic data processing (ADP) requirements for the 1980's and plan appropriate short and long range procurement strategies; (2) institute a program to improve top managers' knowledge of current computer technologies and concepts; (3) increase top management involvement in acquisition and resource allocation processes; and (4) ensure that ADP cost-accounting procedures reflect the principles of full costing and total system-life-cycle costing.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  2. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The heads of Federal agencies should immediately institute a program to determine if their systems are currently economically obsolescent.

    Agency Affected: Heads of Federal Agencies

  3. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should issue guidance to the agencies outlining the criteria to be used and the cost comparisons to be made in determining economic obsolescence. The General Services Administration (GSA), working with the Office of Management and Budget, should require the agency's internal audit group to verify the cost calculations. GSA should issue the guidance and criteria called for in Circular A-71. This would help insure that, over the long term, Federal computers are continually economical and efficient.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration


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