Strong Centralized Management Needed in Computer-Based Information Systems

LCD-78-105: Published: May 22, 1978. Publicly Released: May 22, 1978.

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The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) procedures for planning, approving, and managing the proposed acquisition of minicomputers and related development activities were reviewed. FAA management practices were compared with governmentwide guidance for managing, acquiring, and using computer systems. FAA has made limited progress in effectively managing the design, development, and operation of its information systems; and the agency has no strong, central authority and responsibility for directing these efforts.

FAA system development efforts have been hampered by weaknesses in top management direction and control and continual change of basic system concepts after substantial design and development work has been completed. Recommended approval of system design and development activities has been based on inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupportable cost-benefit information. As a result, expenditures continue to be made for systems which have not been shown to be necessary or cost-effective, prolonged development cycles continue to be incurred, and the costs for developing new information systems continue to exceed original cost estimates. The agency's request for leasing 8 to 14 minicomputers was formulated without adequate consideration of a formal long-range plan for the computer systems, quantification of benefits, functional or user requirements, and costs of alternatives. The justification for the proposed minicomputer acquisition was based in part on two major financial systems which are being redesigned.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Adminsitrator, FAA, should give central authority and responsibility for managing computer-based information systems to a headquarters office. This would: (1) improve control of computer-based information systems' planning and development efforts; (2) ensure that limited resources are allocated to developing information systems which best support the organization's basic missions; and (3) ensure that an informative and complete set of functional specifications is the basis for acquiring new computer systems.

    Agency Affected:


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