Department of Energy:

Problems in the Management and Use of Supercomputers

T-RCED-99-257: Published: Jul 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1999.

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Victor S. Rezendes
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) use, acquisition, and management of its supercomputing resources.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO found that DOE had not effectively overseen the use and acquisition of supercomputers and that oversight of the $5.2 billion strategic computing initiative is hampered by weaknesses in management and information processes; (2) in July 1998, GAO reported that DOE's national laboratories used only about 59 percent of their available supercomputing capacity and were missing opportunities to share these resources; (3) at that time, DOE had about 17 percent of the world's supercomputing capacity and was planning to almost triple its capacity over the next 3 years; (4) in terms of managing acquisitions of supercomputers, GAO concluded that DOE has not effectively overseen the process; (5) furthermore, the strategic computing initiative's strategic plan is out of date, annual plans have been prepared only sporadically, and milestones are not well defined; (6) little information exists to track the program's progress or to compare the program's accomplishments with its milestones; and (7) it is difficult to determine which of the hundreds of milestones have been met, which are behind schedule, or even which are still relevant, given changes in the program.

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