National Bureau of Standards Needs Better Management of Its Computer Resources To Improve Program Effectiveness

CED-79-39: Published: Apr 17, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1979.

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Pursuant to congressional request, an evaluation was conducted to determine how effectively the computer resources at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) support NBS scientists and administrators in carrying out their mission and program responsibilities.

Computer hardware at NBS is obsolete, resulting in increased operating costs, an inability to handle certain sophisticated problems, and a lack of available computer time for users. NBS has decentralized the management of its computer resources, and has no effective long-range plan to justify needed acquisitions. An Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Policy Committee was established, but no Executive Board member is represented. A computer requirements study was conducted, but did not develop NBS computer needs or evaluate all cost and benefit alternatives. Software support also needs improvement. Estimated costs for computer-related services, including programming time spent by scientists, amount to 14 percent of NBS annual budget.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NBS to: (1) conduct a new requirements study to justify the acquisition of needed computer resources, furnishing data processing policies and objectives as well as adequate staff resources to carry out the study, and appointing at least one member of the Executive Board to serve on the committee; (2) establish better management controls over computer resources, including a central computer management office, a long-range planning process, and a Computer Performance Management program with clearly defined policies and manageable objectives; (3) strengthen the existing ADP committee by appointing members of the Executive Board to serve and establishing a written charter setting forth its authority and responsibilities; and (4) establish a permanent computer users group reporting to the Executive Board.

    Agency Affected:


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