Information Resources:

USDA Lacks Data on Major Computer Systems

AIMD-94-31: Published: Oct 21, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 7, 1993.

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Jack L. Brock, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) development of computer systems with life-cycle costs greater than $25 million.

GAO found that: (1) USDA has 17 major computer systems under development with total life-cycle costs of $6.3 billion and two other major initiatives in early planning stages; (2) the major information technology modernization program for farm service agencies accounts for about 41 percent of the total life-cycle costs; (3) USDA does not routinely collect and report detailed data on the acquisition, operation, and use of all information technology resources that is required by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11; and (4) the USDA Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM) has issued guidance and provided training on how its component agencies should report required information for the fiscal year 1995 budget and increased its staff to improve oversight.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: While OIRM has begun to work closely with USDA agencies to review their budget submission, many of the OMB A-11 requirements have since been significantly revised, and the recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Director, OIRM, to review the component agencies' budget submissions and verify the agencies' compliance with the requirements of OMB Circular A-11 before the Department's fiscal year 1995 and subsequent budget submissions are forwarded to OMB.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: USDA disagreed with the recommendation because it believed that it was in compliance with OMB Circular A-11 information technology requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should report the lack of complete information technology systems data as a material internal control weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act. This weakness should remain outstanding until USDA fully complies with the requirements of OMB Circular A-11.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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