Automatic Data Processing Policies, Procedures, and Practices at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-06-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                              7                                                               LM090554
                                                              OF       THE       UNlTEe    STATES
                                                               . DC.         20543
                                             RES             -   blot to be released         owtside     the General
                                            Accowmtimg    Office    except     on the basis        of specific     approwd
                                            by the Office    OP Legisbtiwe       Liaison,     a record      of which     b kept
            B-162407(6)                     by the Biotribution       Section,    Pwbkatiims          Branchp     BAS
                                                                                           June9,   1971
            Dear Mr.      Chairman:*               RELEASED
                     As we reported     on July 7, 1969,'dn            our report      on the au-
            tomatic data processing                          procedures
                                               pol&ie~-,~~._~__,~   -__.___-,_
                                                                            ,, ~.and_g_rac-t.i~e~s at
                   Jet Pro~~~~~~~~~~~~-~~~~~L)~                   Pasadena, California,           we
            have kept abreast of JPL's progress                 in combining        its business
              -__-..scieZn&i,,ic data   processinggoperations.
                                               ._--__ __           ----7EXYmZur
            report,      JPL had three major general data processing                    organiza-
            tions at the time of our previous                review.
                    --The Scientific         Computing Facility     (SCF), responsible
                       for furnishing        computer support to all scientific,
                       engineering,        and technical functions.

                    --The Administrative    Computer Services   Facility,  respon-
                       sible for performing   all business data processing     (re-
                       ferred  to herein as business programs).

                        --The Space Flight            Operations     Facility       (SFOF), as part
                            of the National         Aeronautics      and Space Administration's
                             (NASA) Deep Space Network,            a command and control              cen-
                            ter that uses its data processing                  equipment for the
                           preparation         and support of mission flight              analysis       and
                            control     on an immediate-response-to-inquiries                   (real-
                     ;t,n;'time) basis, plus some scientific,                   engineering,        and
             '\ f['         data    reduction     work.
       ,LL^ ,,.---I
&/.'- \+I,.is*-        JPL was considering              several   methods of combining            its
   :i.+B a. business and scientific                   data   processing       operations,     and     it
p e
                 ecently       adopted a plan for combining              the operations,         which
                should reduce costs by $65,000 during fiscal                         year 1971 and
                $325,000 annually            thereafter.

            Combination        status at the time
            of our July        1969 report
                     JPL initially    considered     combining   its business and
            scientific       data processing     operations    as early as July 1965;
            however, neither        NASA nor JPL aggressively        pursued this ob-
            jective.       Major computer changes were being made without              a
            prior     determination    of their    effect    on a possible    data proc-
            essing combination.          In 1969 JPL was exploring         the advantages

                     fli?&@&r             50TH     ANNIVERSARY                 1921-      1971


    and disadvantages        of processing    the business     computing work
    load on the SCF Univac 1108 computing system.                 This alterna-
    tive was determined         to be uneconomical    because of the high re-
    programming costs --estimated          to be $1.5 million--to       convert
    International       Business Machines Corporation        (IBM) 360 busi-
    ness programs for use on the Univac 1108 system.                  JPL believed,
    however, that a further         study should be made of other alter-
    natives,      and it was at this point that we completed our pre-
    vious work and issued the July 1969 report.
    Combination    of JPL's business and
    scientific    data processing   operations
           JPL started       to reorganize        its computer operations     in No-
    vember 1969 in an effort              to centralize   responsibility    over its
    general-purpose         scientific       and business computing systems.        The
    responsibility        for business operations         was transferred     to the
    Assistant      Laboratory       Director    for Technical   Divisions,   who al-
    ready had responsibility              for the two major scientific      computing
    centers--SCF      ,,and SFOF. This change, however, did not result
    in an immediate consolidation               of actual   computer operations,

            In October 1969 and April          1970, two Government-owned
    IBM 360-75 computing systems, excess to the needs of two other
    NASA centers,         were installed   at JPL and replaced     six large-
    scale SFOF computing systems.              It became apparent    to JPL and
    to NASA that, with the addition              of the IBM 360-75 systems,
    other work could be placed on these systems to permit more ef-
    ficient    utilization       of equipment.
             In the past the use of SFOF computing systems had been
    limited      to Deep Space Network and other space-flight-oriented
    work.      In May 1970 NASA issued to JPL a set of guidelines
    clarifying      its position on the IBM 360-75 systems and permit-
    ting the use of the IBM 360-75 computing systems for nonflight
    mission support tasks on a noninterference      basis.

          JPL, after  considering      the impact of these guidelines    on
    its data processing    operations,     proposed to NASA the transfer
    of the processing   of its business programs to the IBM 360-75


computers.         This action      would permit   the release        of JPL's IBM
360-40 business         computing     system without     jeopardizing          the op-
erational       use of the IBM 360-75 systems.             This    alternative      was
considered       cost *effective      and was consistent        with the recom-
mendations       in our July 1969 report.          JPL and NASA representa-
tives     discussed-'JPLls       proposal   and agreed to the following
decisions.       b         li

       --Accelerate       the transfer of business              computing     from      the
          IBM 360-40      to the IBM 360-75.

       --Terminate       the lease      of the    IBM 360-40       at the    earliest
          practicable       date.

       --Convert     the business        programs  to operate   in a time-
          shared    batch-processing         mode by July 1971.

       In September 1970 JPL prepared                a two-phase*implementa-
tion schedule      for the conversion           of the business        programs     to
operate     on the IBM 360-75 systems.               The first     phase, an in-
terim measure completed            in December 1970, transferred              the busi-
ness programs      to operational         use on the IBM 360-F/5 systems
during    the third     shift     on a block-      or dedicated-time         basis.
The second phase, started             in January       1971, involved      converting
the business      programs      to make them Eompatible            for use with the
360-75 computers*        real-time       operating      system to permit        the
processing     of the business          and scientific       data on a time-shared
basis.      Phase two is scheduled           for June 1971 completion.              With
the conversion       of the business         programs      accomplished      under
phase one, JPL released            the 360-40 on December 31,"1970.

        After    phase two is completed,            JPL's business          programs will
be processed         along with other scieniific             and mission        support
programs under the IBM 360-75 real-time                     operating       system and
thereby      eliminate     the need for dedicated            block time to process
the business        work load.       Although      processing      priority       will   be
given to some of the scientific                and mission        support      work, suf-
ficient      computer     capacity     will   be available       for the business
work load.         To avoid possible        interference        at critical        times
during     space flight       missions,     such as the upcoming Mariner                 71


                 ,   I



                            launch,    a backup IBM 360-75 computing system is available                 to
                            process the business programs at the California    Institute                 of
                            Technology    (CIT), also located in Pasadena.

                                    JPL estimates       that it will     incur about $110,000 in one-
                            time conversion         costs in combining       its business     and scientific
                            data processing         operations.      With the release       of its 360-40
                            business computing          system, JPL estimates         a net savings    (i.e.,
                            after    conversion      costs) of about $65,000 in fiscal            year 1971
                            and about $325,000 in each subsequent year.                    These estimates
                            reflect    out-of-pocket         costs and take into account only equip-
                            ment rentals,       although      other cost elements are expected to
                            stay about the same. The estimated                 savings could be reduced
                            by about $50,000 annually             if CIT's computer has to be used as


                                    In our 1969 report     to the Committee, we recommended that
                             NASA provide    guidance regarding      combining    the data processing
                             centers at JPL.       Subsequently,   in May 1970 NASA issued guid-
                             ance permitting      JPL to use SFOF computers on business        func-
                           5 tions.    We believe    that the action    taken by NASA and JPL on
                             our recommendation      will  result  in substantial     savings to the
                             Government for many years to come.

                                     We hope that the information         presented will    be helpful
                             to you.     We are sending copies of this letter            to the Adminis-
                             trator,    NASA; however, we plan to make no further             distribution
                             of this report     unless copies are specifically          requested,        and
                             then we shall make distribution           only after your agreement has
                             been obtained     or public   announcement has been made by you con-
                             cerning    the contents    of the letter.

                                                                    Comptroller  General
                                                                    of the United States
                      $?     The Honorable  George P. Miller,   Chairman
                     Q       Committee on Science and Astronautics
                             House of Representatives