GAO: Army needs to improve its 2000 program

Inaccurate data, incomplete interface agreements and poorly defined testing
requirements are hampering the Army’s year 2000 date code repair program, a General
Accounting Office report said.


Last month’s GAO report, Defense Computers: Army Needs to Greatly Strengthen Its
Year 2000 Program, warns that the service’s mission-critical systems could become
disabled if the Army doesn’t better manage its year 2000 efforts.


If the Army’s computer systems fail come 2000, operations at all levels could be
affected "by the incorrect processing of data, as well as corrupted databases, or
even massive system failures,’’ the report said.


Of the Army’s 376 mission-critical systems, 160 are year 2000-ready, 120 must be
repaired, 78 are being replaced and 18 will be shut down, the report said.


But the Army’s 19,731 automated information and embedded weapons systems that are
not mission-critical are lagging in the remediation process. Of the 12,120 that still need
repair, 67 are in the assessment phase and more than half are undergoing renovation.


The report also said the Army does not have accurate data on systems interfaces and has
failed to properly estimate the cost for fixing them, GAO said.


"Without good status and cost information, the Army cannot effectively ensure that
all of its mission-critical systems are being corrected, identify areas where additional
resources are needed, ensure that year 2000 errors are not propagated from one
organization to another, or assess whether systems have been certified as
compliant,’’ GAO said.


At the time of the GAO review, the Army estimated it would spend about $429 million to
ready its systems for 2000. But GAO noted that more than half of the systems in the
Army’s estimate were based on a year 2000 cost formula developed by the Gartner Group
Inc. of Stamford, Conn. The Gartner formula didn’t work for the Army, GAO said.


"The difference between an estimate based on a reliable analysis of data collected
during the assessment phase and an estimate based on the Gartner formula can be
significant,’’ GAO said.


The Gartner Group estimates the cost of executable lines of code at $8 per line for
weapons systems and $1.10 per line for automated information systems.


Using the Gartner formula, GAO said that the Army’s Logistics Systems Support
Center year 2000 cost estimate for one system was almost 50 percent lower than an estimate
based on data collected during the assessment phase.


GAO blamed the Army Materiel Command for most of the inaccurate estimates. The command
is responsible for about 93 percent of the service’s systems that still need repair.


The command failed to include in the estimate 328 of 505 systems yet to be repaired,
leading to an underestimated cost of $196.7 million, GAO said.


The GAO report also said the service doesn’t have enough information about data
exchange points to repair date code to let disparate systems exchange data after 2000.


Throughout the 1,009 data exchange interfaces, the Army was missing data on transfer
media, data streams and security classification information.


The Army is also late in developing interface agreements and contingency plans should
interfaces fail, GAO said.


"Without prompt attention to interface agreements and contingency plans, there is
an increased risk that key interfaces will not work and that core business processes will
be adversely impacted,’’ GAO said.


The Army also doesn’t know if it has the capacity to test mission-critical systems
before the year 2000 deadline, GAO said.


"The Army recognizes the year 2000 issue as a top priority and is taking all
prudent steps to ensure that this issue does not pose a threat to our Army’s ability
to execute its assigned prior to, during, and after the year 2000,’’ said Lt.
Gen. William Campbell, the Army’s chief information officer and director of
information systems for command, control, communications and computers.

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