Federal Communications Commission:

Strategic Focus Needed to Improve Information Resources Management

IMTEC-90-52: Published: Jul 20, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) information resources management (IRM), focusing on how the agency plans and develops information technology to meet its mission.

GAO found that: (1) the FCC mission is becoming increasingly demanding; (2) FCC plans to spend about $11 million on information technology to support mission and administrative functions between fiscal years (FY) 1990 and 1993; (3) FCC has not developed a strategic IRM plan that builds on its business strategy by identifying the goals, direction, and information needed to meet its mission; (4) FCC recognized a decade ago that information technology could help it accomplish its mission, but did not introduce automation into its reference rooms; (5) FCC did not implement a proposal to use electronic filing for license applications because it did not periodically review progress on IRM proposals; (6) some FCC information systems development policies and practices are not consistent with federal guidelines for preparing thorough cost-benefit analyses of alternative systems; and (7) FCC has not prepared a continuity-of-operations plan, identified its critical information systems, or prepared detailed emergency procedures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Acting on the recommendation, FCC developed a strategic IRM plan which was approved by the FCC Chairman in September 1991. The plan defines the agency's mission and its highest priority business goals and discusses, in priority order, the agency's five IRM goals to support the mission. FCC is using the plan to guide its tactical, budget-related IRM planning.

    Recommendation: To guide the increased level of FCC information technology expenditures, the Chairman, FCC, should ensure that the agency develops a strategic IRM plan.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As GAO recommended, FCC has revised its systems development policies in order to help ensure that it selects the best systems design approach, and properly considers security needs when building systems. The new policies require formal approval of systems plans and analyses. Also, to heighten awareness of its new policies, FCC trained its Branch Chiefs on system development procedures.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that FCC selects the best alternatives for developing systems and properly considers security needs, FCC should revise its system development policies to conform to federal guidelines and standards.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FCC finalized its Disaster Recovery Plan in October 1992. The plan identifies key personnel and their duties, critical processing resources requiring backup, off-site computer center backup and file storage facilities and arrangements, and disaster recovery procedures. FCC successfully tested the plan at the Honeywell and VAX backup computer facilities.

    Recommendation: To help ensure a smooth, rapid recovery of automatic data processing (ADP) operations in an emergency, FCC should prepare and periodically test an ADP continuity-of-operations plan.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As GAO recommended, FCC reported the lack of a continuity plan as a material control weakness in its December 1990 FMFIA report, and stated that it will continue to report it until a plan is in place that meets all applicable federal standards.

    Recommendation: Until a plan has been developed and tested, FCC should report the lack of a plan as material internal control weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA).

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission


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