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GAO examined: (1) the management implications and economics of reducing the machine resources consumed by Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) applications in the federal government; and (2) the applicability of these findings to different brands of computers.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce 1. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Bureau of Standards (NSB) to publish guidance on the effective and efficient use of COBOL for applications; guidance should include examples taken from real-life applications. A possible starting point would be to use a table of contents similar to that of the already published "Using ANSI FORTRAN" and the GAO provisional checklist. The General Services Administration Office of Software Development and Federal Computer Performance Evaluation and Simulation Center could work with NBS in constructing such guidance.
Closed - Implemented
NBS has issued guidance on the use of COBOL for applications.
Heads of Federal Agencies 2. Heads of federal agencies should require periodic review of the machine resource consumption of COBOL applications at their installations and, where feasible, require action to reduce the consumption of expensive applications.
Closed - Implemented
The Department Housing and Urban Development, the Defense Mapping Agency, and the Social Security Administration have installed continuous software improvement programs. Savings cannot be quantified.

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