The Department of Energy's Procurement Information System:

Expectations Have Not Been Realized

EMD-82-113: Published: Sep 3, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the cost and effectiveness of the Department of Energy's (DOE) procurement information system and DOE efforts to develop a procurement planning program.

DOE has not always followed Federal procedures for implementing the widely established guidance for acquiring management information systems. Instead it has often decided on arbitrary courses of action and rushed the development of its systems. In several instances: (1) user needs were not identified before the development of a system; (2) procedures for preparing preliminary and alternative system designs were not followed; (3) systems which were chosen may not have been the most cost-beneficial alternatives; and (4) the system became operational before it was fully completed. The costs of developing the DOE procurement information system have substantially exceeded original estimates, and anticipated benefits have not been fully realized. The cost increases are due primarily to DOE attempts to correct database and computer program problems which might have been minimized had it followed established procedures in designing and implementing the system. Because of inaccuracies in the system, various DOE offices are using their own databases. If this practice continues, the effectiveness of the Procurement Assistance Data System (PADS) will be reduced and redundant procurement information systems will operate in DOE. Presently, PADS will do little more than track active procurement data; it will not handle preprocurement planning data.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should: (1) increase user confidence in PADS by selecting a statistically valid sample of data in the system and tracing it back to procurement source documents and, if the sample shows major inaccuracies in PADS data, further actions should be taken to ensure the accuracy and utility of the system; (2) determine to what extent program and field procurement awarding offices are using informal systems in lieu of PADS and how best such redundancy can be eliminated; and (3) analyze the costs and benefits associated with the various alternatives for providing an advanced procurement planning system, including making it a part of PADS. In addition, the Secretary should require that established procedures for developing major information systems be followed when DOE develops future information systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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