ADP Modernization:

FCC's Automation Planning Is Inadequate

IMTEC-88-51: Published: Sep 15, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 5, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) information resource management (IRM) and automation planning process, including its development of the Record Image Processing System.

GAO found that the FCC strategic automation planning process was inadequate, since FCC did not: (1) state annual plan goals, objectives, and priorities or specify ways to achieve goals; (2) submit its annual plans for review by its automatic data processing (ADP) steering committee or involve the committee in any planning over the last 3 years; (3) adhere to federal system development life-cycle methodologies in developing its Record Image Processing System; (4) identify all potential users and their requirements; and (5) adequately identify or consider alternatives or their costs and benefits. GAO believes that these flaws could increase the risk of FCC selecting a system which will not: (1) meet mission objectives; (2) meet user needs; or (3) achieve the expected cost reductions and benefits.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FCC revised its strategic IRM plan to tie automation objectives to mission goals and priorities, and issued the plan in August 1989. A steering committee was reactivated and is periodically meeting. Automation priorities identified in the plan were used to allocate resources for fiscal year 1990, and FCC management stated it would continue to rely on the plan for budget decisions.

    Recommendation: To improve the FCC automation planning process, the Chairman, FCC, should require the Managing Director to: (1) ensure that ADP strategic automation plans identify how each automation program objective supports FCC mission goals and prioritize these automation program objectives; (2) activate the ADP steering committee or designate another group or individual to carry out the responsibilities stated in the committee's charter; and (3) ensure that budgetary decisions on automation matters are guided by requirements and activities contained in the strategic plan.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FCC prepared a new study in February 1989. The study included alternative approaches and the costs and benefits of each. FCC also met with user groups and better defined user needs in an April 1989 study. FCC also incorporated external users' needs as system requirements.

    Recommendation: To reduce the risks associated with the development of the Record Image Processing System, the Chairman, FCC, should require the Managing Director to ensure that FCC has identified alternative approaches to developing the system, identified the costs and benefits of such alternative approaches, and carefully defined user requirements. These actions should be completed before any significant investment in the system is made.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission


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