Navy needs cohesive strategy for year 2000 fixes, GAO report says

The Navy’s lack of management and oversight controls could prevent it from fixing
its computer systems by 2000, a General Accounting Office audit has concluded.


The report, Defense Computers: Year 2000 Computer Problems Put Navy Operations at Risk,
said the Navy took a decentralized approach to remediation efforts without initially
establishing an effective year 2000 program office to manage it.


The Navy has five full-time employees in the office of the Navy’s chief
information officer to oversee and monitor year 2000 progress.


They must oversee date code changes in more than 2,000 systems, 300,000 PCs and servers
used by five major commands, 17 shore facilities and nine operating forces, including the
Marine Corps, the report said.


Failing to fix its systems on time will hurt the service’s day-to-day and
mission-critical operations, GAO said.


“The Navy has taken many positive actions to increase awareness, promote sharing
of information and encourage its components to make year 2000 remediation efforts a high
priority,” GAO said. “However, it is behind schedule in remediating
systems.”


The Navy had predicted it would complete an assessment by June 1997 but did not finish
it until December, GAO said. It did not issue an approved year 2000 program management
plan until January.


The Navy lacks a comprehensive servicewide database of systems requiring remediation,
has not tracked the progress of components in developing interface agreements and has not
developed a test strategy or contingency plans for its mission-critical systems, GAO said.


“As a result, the Navy lacks complete and reliable information on its systems and
on the status and cost of its remediation efforts,” which increases year 2000 risks
to service operations, GAO said.


If Navy systems fail, GAO said, operations at all levels could be affected by faulty
data processing, corrupted databases and even massive systems failures.


The Navy estimated in February that it will spend $421 million fixing its computers.
But GAO called the estimate unreliable. GAO also disagreed with the Navy’s estimate
that it had 812 mission-critical systems, 781 of which are not yet fixed.


GAO recommended that Navy Secretary John Dalton direct Navy CIO Ann Miller to add
personnel to the year 2000 office and give them four charges:


Miller concurred with all the GAO’s recommendations and said the service has
doubled the number of staff members in its year 2000 office to 10 full-time employees. She
said the service has also established its own year 2000 database separate from the
now-defunct Defense Integration Support Tools database.


Miller also said the Navy will have contingency plans for mission-critical systems and
processes by December. 

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