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Since 1977, Administrators of General Services have stated that the General Services Administration (GSA) internal automatic data processing (ADP) equipment is unreliable due to age, lack of spare parts, and maintenance. They have also stated that plans are underway to competitively replace it. Furthermore, they indicated that, once the acquisition of the needed ADP equipment was complete, the GSA would no longer rely on extending its sole-source contract for teleprocessing services to support internal systems. The GAO reviewed GSA plans to: (1) acquire ADP resources to support internal data processing requirements; and (2) rely on sole-source, noncompetitive extensions contracts for teleprocessing systems.
The GAO found that the internal ADP management of GSA has been unable to acquire the ADP resources to replace its old and unreliable ADP equipment and to terminate some sole-source contracts. The GAO believes that this is because GSA lacks necessary ADP management expertise. Internal ADP management could develop neither a successful long-range ADP plan nor an effective request for proposal to acquire the needed ADP resources. In addition, internal ADP management did not follow Federal policy and regulations in its attempt to acquire these ADP resources. Another major problem that affects the GSA's ability to acquire needed ADP resources is the constant attrition in its top management.
In the past, the GSA's operating philosophy was to decentralize responsibility for automated information systems. In the view of the GAO, centralized authority is necessary to eliminate fragmented management and oversight responsibility. These problems are some of the reasons why the GSA has, over the past few years, continually relied on sole-source extension of ADP contracts to support internal systems.
The GSA Commissioner of Automated Data and Telecommunications Service rescinded the delegation of procurement authority previously granted to internal GSA ADP management and has now taken over the task of acquiring, as quickly as possible, the ADP resources necessary to transfer GSA applications from the current sole-source contracts. However, the contracts' expiration dates are a factor, and some extension of these contracts may still be necessary.
The GAO recommends that the Administrator of the GSA reevaluate the internal ADP program and acquisition management and then restructure it so that it can effectively acquire needed ADP resources. This would include establishing an executive ADP management committee comprising top management officials from every major organizational unit and chaired by the Deputy Administrator. This committee should have a written charter setting forth its authority and responsibilities for the consolidation and integration of both functional and technical aspects of agencywide ADP strategy, and it should work closely with the GSA Information Resources Manager.