Use of Computers by Firms Providing Architect-Engineer Services to Federal Agencies

LCD-81-2: Published: Oct 27, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1980.

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GAO examined the problems experienced by firms using computer aids on Federal design projects. As part of the planning effort for this review, GAO made a survey of 800 firms providing architectural and engineering services to Federal agencies to obtain sufficient data to use in planning the scope and depth of the review and to identify firms which experienced problems relating to computer use on Federal projects. The survey results should be of interest to Federal agencies, the architect-engineer community, and others. The results of the survey provide some insight into (1) how computer methods are used in the design process, (2) how computer services are provided, (3) why computers are used, and (4) which applications are currently being used and which applications firms are planning to use.

Survey responses showed that: (1) most of the responding firms used computers in some way during the design process in providing design services to their clients; (2) use of computer methods on selected Federal projects was slightly lower, 64.3 percent; (3) computers were used heavily in the engineering areas, and a trend was developing toward using computers in the specifications and cost estimating areas; (4) the primary reason firms used computers was to carry out tasks which were not practical using manual methods; (5) most firms provided computer services to their clients by using either commercial time-sharing services or their own computers; and (6) when firms planned to use computers on a Federal project, the computer costs were often buried in either overhead or labor figures, rather than being listed as direct costs clearly identified as computer costs.

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