Defense Computers:

U.S. Space Command's Management of Its Year 2000 Operational Testing

AIMD-00-30: Published: Nov 15, 1999. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 1999.

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Jack L. Brock, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's management of various year 2000-related end-to-end testing activities, focusing on: (1) the U.S. Space Command's management of its end-to-end test of space control systems essential to major theater war; and (2) what the results of this test show with respect to operational risks and readiness.

GAO noted that: (1) year 2000 end-to-end testing is an essential component of an effective year 2000 testing program since year 2000-related problems can affect so many of the systems owned and operated by an entity as well as systems belonging to business partners and infrastructure providers; (2) to be effective, end-to-end testing should be approached in a structured and disciplined fashion; (3) both the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) guidance to its combatant commands on managing year 2000 operational evaluations, and GAO's year 2000 test guidance define a number of key management controls to employ when planning, executing, analyzing, and reporting on such test and evaluation events; (4) GAO found that the Space Command's space control operational evaluation satisfied 16 of 21 key processes prescribed by JCS guidance; (5) the Command performed a rehearsal before conducting the evaluation to ensure that all critical systems and interfaces were operating correctly and that all staff knew their roles and responsibilities; (6) in response to GAO's concerns, Space Command has taken positive actions to address the remaining five key processes; (7) three of the key processes were addressed during the course of GAO's review and two were addressed in response to a recommendation GAO made at its briefing; (8) during the course of its review, Space Command began ensuring that contingency plans were in place for its mission-critical systems, which it had not done before conducting the space control operational evaluation; (9) after GAO found that configuration management procedures were not always followed while executing the evaluation, Space Command initiated an effort to ensure that such procedures are followed in future evaluations; (10) during GAO's review, the Command amended its report to discuss its decision to exclude six communications systems from the evaluation and whether this adversely impacted the ability to draw conclusions about mission readiness; and (11) at the time of GAO's briefing, Space Command still needed to address two partially satisfied key processes, which included: (a) not documenting whether test cases for most intelligence systems met performance exit criteria; and (b) not ensuring that 1 of 29 systems included in the evaluation was year 2000 compliant.

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