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As most federal agencies are extremely dependent on automatic data processing (ADP) systems, the GAO reviewed the lack of effort among many federal agencies to develop backup plans to maintain reasonable continuity of data processingz support when normal ADP operations are disrupted.
The GAO found not only a lack of understanding in the Federal Government of the importance of ADP backup planning, but also that agency top management has not fulfilled its responsibility for implementing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for such plans. Of 55 activities reviewed, the GAO did not find a single ADP backup plan which it considered adequate. Many activities only had written letters of agreement which were not sufficient. An adequate ADP backup plan should reduce the effects of a disaster by providing smooth, rapid restoration of an activity's critical operations until a lost ADP system can be permanently replaced or recovered.
A review of interagency agreements indicated that: agreements are not always current, fulfilling agreements puts the agency providing backup in a contingency mode, ADP backup capability is not periodically tested to ensure compatibility of systems, most agreements contain only a single option, and agreements contain no guarantee that the backup equipment will be made available in the event of need. If operating systems have been modified, additional backup problems can be encountered. OMB has not provided the strong leadership needed to emphasize the importance of ADP backup planning and its role in reducing the risk that loss of ADP capability in an emergency could keep agencies from meeting their responsibilities.