Government Accountability Office, Information Technology: Improvement Needed In Documenting Computer Systems (B-115369) (Oct. 8, 1974).
The GAO noted that:
- (1) governmentwide standards are not available to assist federal managers in deciding: (a) what type of documentation to prepare for automatic data processing (ADP) systems, programs, and mathematical computerized models; (b) how much to prepare; and (c) when and how to prepare it;
- (2) although good documentation does not insure successful computer operations, inadequate documentation can: (a) increase the cost of federal operations; (b) weaken management control of ADP systems; (c) contribute to loss of funds and assets; and (d) limit the potential for sharing computer programs, particularly mathematical models;
- (3) consistent preparation of adequate documentation under tight performance schedules requires standards or guidelines and continual review to insure compliance with the guidelines;
- (4) since GAO's 1971 report, some agencies have prepared good guidelines while other agencies have not;
- (5) GAO also noted a continuing lack of management review to insure adequate documentation;
- (6) documentation should be kept to the minimum necessary to meet the needs of ADP users because of the high costs of documenting ADP systems;
- (7) GAO developed a set of elements necessary for cost-effective sharing of computer models;
- (8) GAO has published documentation guidance for federal agencies to follow when documenting automated accounting systems;
- (9) deciding the type of ADP documentation and the amount of detail needed to satisfy different users' requirements is not a clear cut process;
- (10) the first problem to be faced is setting standards for good documentation;
- (11) the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) has completed some work in this area and has additional work underway;
- (12) the second problem is to see that the work necessary for good documentation is performed; and
- (13) this can be done by having government agencies establish review functions which will periodically check to see that the documentation has been completed.