United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States
Thank you for inviting me to participate in todays hearing on the Department of Defenses DOD efforts to confront the Year 2000 problem. This dilemma is particularly daunting for Defense for two reasons. First, Defenses size and scope of operations, criticality of mission, and heavy reliance on a diverse portfolio of information technology is unparalleled in either the public or private sector. Second, despite considerable progress in the last 3 months, Defense is still well behind schedule. This is largely because Defense did not have the necessary oversight and management framework for handling large-scale department wide information technology projects. Defense has recently taken steps to strengthen management of its Year 2000 program by providing the controls and guidance needed to fix and test systems it also has appropriately shifted its focus to core business readiness and operational risks through 1 planning for the performance of end-to-end tests of key functional area business processes, 2 executing a series of simulated Year 2000 operational exercises, and 3 conducting system integration tests at the military service level. Additionally, the Deputy Secretary has become actively engaged in directing and monitoring Year 2000 efforts. We support these actions, but the key to their success rests in putting in place effective controls for Defense to have the timely and reliable information to know what is going right and what is going wrong so that corrective action can be swift and effective. These controls, which our Year 2000 guides define, require Year 2000 program management to define the appropriate performance and progress measures and reporting requirements and to ensure that these requirements are met. For Defense to minimize risks in the 305 days remaining before the Year 2000 deadline, it must act quickly and decisively to implement and enforce these controls.