During its review, the GAO noted that DOE needs to strengthen its ADP acquisition planning procedures to ensure that its computing requirements are met in a cost-effective manner. Several weaknesses were identified in certain aspects of DOE procurement plans to acquire a major scientific computing system for its research and development work.
The GAO review showed that DOE has not fully considered using available satellite telecommunication data processing capabilities, a less costly alternative. Although DOE procedures require that written justifications for ADP equipment include information on each of these requirements, the review shows that they were not discussed in the justification submitted by the laboratories involved.
There is no evidence that appropriate studies have been performed to evaluate the feasibility of alternative approaches. Satellite communications which provide the requisite speed for rapid data transmission were commercially available. Costs would be lower using these systems rather than using the encumbent service. DOE questioned the present technological feasibility of using this matter. In view of the potential cost benefits of using satellite technology, it is the opinion of the GAO that ADP equipment not be completed until all alternatives are fully evaluated and documented. DOE must fully consider satellite technology in meeting its future computing requirements.