Bowie Computer Center Update

AIMD-94-111R: Published: May 5, 1994. Publicly Released: May 5, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the Bureau of the Census' plans for its new high performance computing center. GAO noted that: (1) the project is in the early stages of development; (2) the Bureau, the University of Maryland, and the General Services Administration (GSA) have drafted separate memoranda of understanding covering joint activities in high performance computing and the transfer of land to GSA for Census use; (3) as of the end of April 1994, the computer facility's design was on schedule and 95 percent complete; (4) the design will be completed in July 1994 and the procurement for construction will be undertaken between July and November 1994; (5) facility construction will take over 2 years and is scheduled for completion by January 30, 1997; (6) Congress has appropriated $2.7 million in the last 3 years for the planning and design of the center and $28 million for its construction; (7) the Department of Commerce has not approved funding for high performance computing because it is still assessing its need for it; (8) the Bureau plans to conduct a risk assessment of the center after the land is transferred to GSA, including the need for a separate backup facility; (9) the Bureau does not plan to maintain a backup facility for the computing center because the new center's modular design should permit continued operations after facility damage, but the modular design will not protect against all types of disasters; and (10) delays in the center's development could adversely affect the 2000 census.

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