Ways To Improve Management of Federally Funded Computerized Models

LCD-75-111: Published: Aug 23, 1976. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 1976.

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A computerized model uses mathematical and logical rules and methods to represent how a process, physical object, or entity, such as an organization, can be expected to react under different conditions during a given period of time. Such models are used in many ways and in a variety of areas to help in managing Federal programs. GAO conducted a review to determine how Federal agencies could improve their management and use of computerized models. Of the 519 federally funded models identified as being developed or used in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States, 57 were selected for detailed review.

Although successfully developed models can be of assistance in the management of Federal programs, GAO found that many model development efforts experienced large cost overruns, prolonged delays in completion, and total user dissatisfaction with the information obtained from the model. Many problems causing ineffective and inefficient use of the models were identified. No Government-wide guidance was found that would help Federal agencies avoid these problems in their model development activities. This lack of guidance led GAO to develop a phased approach which identifies the major activities necessary for planning, managing, and controlling model development efforts. These phases include: problem definition, preliminary design, detail design, evaluation, and maintenance. Most of the organizations which developed the models that GAO reviewed in detail agreed that these factors should serve as a basis for development of Government-wide guidance standards.

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