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The economics that can be achieved in automatic data processing (ADP) management were addressed. The Government has become increasingly dependent upon the use of computer technology. It is estimated that the Government will operate more than 18,000 computers in 1981; the cost of their installation, operation, and maintenance is estimated to be in excess of $15 billion annually.
Because computer systems have become inseparable from the Federal programs they support, the GAO and Congress are increasingly interested in evaluating computer systems development and use. This combination of Federal programs and computer technology has allowed the Government to perform many operations and applications that in the past were not done at all or were done manually at great expense and time. In an effort to improve the Government's management of its ADP resources, the GAO has steadily increased the scope and sharpened the focus of the ADP audit activities over the years.
The GAO has been involved in ADP procurement and utilization for many years. Prior to the Brooks Act of 1965, the GAO issued about 100 audit reports revealing deficiencies in the acquisition and use of ADP. These reports provided some impetus for the Act's passage. This Act was a major milestone, because Congress called special attention to ADP. The intent of the law was to make the acquisition and use of data processing goods and services by the Federal Government both orderly and economical. Despite the Act, the GAO has found that problems still persist in all facets of ADP activities. Despite dozens of GAO reports, there is still a lack of clear and concise guidance from the central executive agencies. The GAO found that there is continued use of costly, outmoded computers in Federal agencies, and Federal agencies' maintenance of computer programs is expensive and undermanaged.