Small Computers in the Federal Government:

Management Is Needed To Realize Potential and Prevent Problems

AFMD-83-36: Published: Mar 8, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1983.

Additional Materials:


Thomas P. Giammo
(202) 275-4659


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO identified a rapidly evolving problem relating to the acquisition and use of small computers by federal agencies. GAO based its report on earlier findings and on current monitoring efforts of automatic data processing performance at several agencies.

GAO found that the use of small computers in the government has advanced much faster than agency efforts to manage these resources. Existing guidance, directed toward large computers and centralized data processing, does not cover some of the unique aspects of the small computer environment. Present conditions allow waste and inefficiency in the short run and adversely affect broad policies and goals in the long run. GAO stated that lack of planning and guidance at all levels has allowed uncoordinated and uncontrolled proliferation of small computers. GAO concluded that, collectively, small computers constitute a large block of resources that need increased attention from data processing management.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA issued a guidance manual, contracted for micro software, and is now operating the microcomputer store. NBS published an experience document.

    Recommendation: The Office of Management and Budget, working with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in their respective areas of responsibility, should formulate policy and issue guidance to federal agencies to provide the framework for a more informed, controlled, and systematic approach to the justification, acquisition, installation, and operation of small computers.

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

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OMB indicated that: (1) Reform 88 initiatives have begun, but no additional actions are feasible now; and (2) NBS and GSA have already issued guidance on small computers.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should ask the Reform 88 staff to: (1) specifically address the impact and implications of small low-cost computers; (2) report to him on how much and what kind of guidance is needed; and (3) make recommendations to him on the guidance to be issued on small computers.

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


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jul 18, 2018

Jul 17, 2018

Jul 16, 2018

Jun 28, 2018

May 31, 2018

May 24, 2018

May 10, 2018

Apr 17, 2018

Apr 5, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here