GAO targets Army's Year 2000 effort

The Army's Year 2000 program could fail because of management problems, an incomplete test plan and other reasons, according to a General Accounting Office report released last week.

According to the report, "Defense Computers: Army Needs to Greatly Strengthen Its Year 2000 Program," until the Army corrects the management problems, the service "cannot be assured that its mission-critical operations will not be severely degraded or disabled as a result of the Year 2000 problem."

GAO reported that 120 of the Army's 376 mission-critical automated information and embedded weapons systems still need Year 2000 reprogramming. And as of February 1998, 12,120—- nearly two-thirds—- of the Army's 19,731 nonmission-critical systems still required Year 2000 fixes.

Army components have identified 1,009 system interfaces requiring Year 2000 fixes, the GAO report noted, but the service "lacks most of the detailed information it needs to monitor and oversee...efforts to ensure that systems data can be exchanged effectively at the Year 2000."

GAO sharply faulted the Army Materiel Command's Year 2000 efforts, saying the command had not estimated the costs to fix 382 of its 505 systems. "AMC data have a significant impact on the Army's Year 2000 efforts because AMC and its components own approximately 93 percent of the systems the Army reported as not being Year 2000- compliant," GAO reported.

GAO recommended that the Army develop accurate and complete databases, a stepped-up certification program, an improved cost-estimation process and specific contingency plans to ensure operations of core computer systems after the turn of the century, among other suggestions.

Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers, said the Army reviewed the report and concurred with its recommendations. He added that the Army "is taking all prudent steps to ensure that this issue does not pose a threat to our Army's ability to execute its assigned missions prior to, during and after Y2K.''

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