oversight

Savings Available Through a Government-Wide Program to Rehabilitate Instrumentation Tape

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-08-23.

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

              REPORT TO THE CONGRESS
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              Savings Available Through A
              Government-Wide Program To
              Rehabilitate Instrumentation Tape
                                                     B. 164392




              General Services Administration




              BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
              OF THE UNITED STATES



                FILE COPY - COMP GEN            AUG 3.,197
           COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
                      WASHINGTON. D.C. 20548




B-164392




To the President of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives

       This is our report on the savings available through a
Government-wide program by the General Services Adminis-
tration to rehabilitate instrumentation tape.

      Our review was made pursuant to the Budget and Account-
ing Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting and Auditing Act
of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67).

       Copies of this report are being sent to the Director, Of-
fice of Management and Budget; the Administrator of General
Services; and the Secretary of Defense.




                          Aoting    Comptroller General
                                    of the United States




                 50TH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971
COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S             SAVIN!GS AVAILABLE THROUGH A GOVERNMENT-WIDE
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS            PROGRAM TO REHABILITATE INSTRUMENTATION
                                  TAPE
                                  General Services Administration B-164392


DIGEST


WHY THE REVIEW WAS MADE

     Instrumentation tape is a type of magnetic tape used by Federal agencies
     to record instrumentation data and is commonly used in telemetering and
     scientific projects. The information to be recorded is often critical;
     that is, vital and not repeatable. Instrumentation tape therefore must
     be highly reliable.

     The Government's cost of procuring this tape is estimated at $10 million
     annually.

     The General Accounting Office (GAO) noted that the National Aeronautics
     and Space Administration (NASA) was prolonging the useful life of in-
     strumentation tape by rehabilitation--cleaning, testing, and certifying
     the condition of the tape. Because the cost of rehabilitating tape was
     less than the cost of purchasing new tape, NASA realized savings.

      GAO made this review to consider the feasibility of a Government-wide
      program for rehabilitating instrumentation tape.


FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

      The use of new tape exclusively for recording critical data was the
      practice at 11 of the installations included in GAO's review. The
      tape was reused only in secondary, or noncritical, applications. The
      principal justification for this practice was the contention that new
      tape was more reliable than rehabilitated tape. NASA and the National
      Security Agency, however, have established rehabilitation programs for
      instrumentation tape that have proven to be economically and technically
      feasible. (See p. 7.)
      NASA officials told GAO that about 75 percent of the instrumentation tape
      processed by NASA's rehabilitation facility was restored to a condition
      suitable for use in critical applications. According to NASA officials,
      in the first year of the rehabilitation program, 18,000 reels of instru-
      mentation tape having a replacement cost of about $367,000 were success-
      fully rehabilitated at a cost of about $93,300 for labor and supplies
      and most of the tapes were recirculated to users and performed satisfac-
      torily. (See p. 8.)
      The National Security Agency estimated that procurement savings of $1.2 mil-
      lion had been realized as a result of a June 1969 contract with a commercial


    Tear Sheet
                                                             AUG. 23, 1 9 7 1
     firm for the rehabilitation of 25,000 reels of instrumentation tape. The
     rehabilitated tapes were being used in critical applications. (See p. 9.)
     GAO's review did not show the quantity of tape available for rehabilitation
     at most of the 11 installations. As an indication of the potential for
     savings, rehabilitation of the quantity of tape procured by the 11 installa-
     tions during fiscal year 1969 would result in procurement savings of
     $890,000--computed on the basis of the percentage of tapes rehabilitated
     for use in critical applications and the costs incurred by the National
     Security Agency. (See p. 10.)
     Some agencies have recognized the potential benefits of effective instrumen-
     tation tape rehabilitation programs, but GAO's review indicates that the
     quantities of such tape procured by individual installations may not war-
     rant the establishment of such programs at all installations. In GAO's
     opinion, a Government-wide program for the rehabilitation of instrumenta-
     tion tape is needed to realize the savings attainable through reduced
     procurements. (See p. 15.)

RECOMMENDATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS

     To achieve the economies available through the rehabilitation of instru-
     mentation tape, GAO recommends that the Administrator of General Services
       --enter into a program for the rehabilitation of instrumentation tape
         and
       --promote the use of the rehabilitation program throughout the Govern-
         ment.

AGENCY ACTIONS AND UNRESOLVED ISSUES

     The General Services Administration (GSA) informed GAO that it agreed with
     GAO's recommendations and planned to study the technical and logistical
     requirements and other aspects of a Government-wide program. GSA stated
     that, if the study showed that such a program was feasible, it would ini-
     tiate the program and would notify the agencies of the potential savings.
     In addition, GSA was developing a specification for the rehabilitation of
     instrumentation tape.
     The Assistant Secretary of Defense stated that the Department of Defense
     agreed with GAO's recommendation that GSA enter into a Government-wide
     program for rehabilitation of instrumentation tape.

MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE CONGRESS

     This report informs the Congress of the potential for significant savings
     through the establishment of a Government-wide rehabilitation program for
     instrumentation tape and of the pertinent actions planned by GSA.


                                       2
                          Contents
                                                         Page

DIGEST                                                     1

CHAPTER

   1       INTRODUCTION                                    3

   2       NEED FOR A GOVERNMENT-WIDE PROGRAM FOR
           REHABILITATION OF INSTRUMENTATION TAPE         7
               Feasibility of tape rehabilitation         7
               Opportunities for savings through use
                 of rehabilitated instrumentation tape    10
               Potential for a Government-wide program
                 for rehabilitation of instrumentation
                 tape                                     13

   3       CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND AGENCY
           COMMENTS                                       15
               Conclusions                                15
               Recommendations to the Administrator
                 of General Services                      16
               Comments by GSA and DOD                    16

   4       SCOPE OF REVIEW                                18

APPENDIX

   I       Potential for savings at selected
             installations based on procurements
             in fiscal year 1969                          21

  II       Letter dated April 22, 1971, from the
             Assistant Administrator, General
             Services Administration, to the
             General Accounting Office                    22

 III       Letter dated May 17, 1971, from the
             Assistant Secretary of Defense to the
             General Accounting Office                    24
APPENDIX                                                   Page

  IV       Principal officials of the General
             Services Administration responsible
             for the administration of the matters
             discussed in this report                       26

                         ABBREVIATIONS

DOD        Department of Defense

GAO        General Accounting Office

GSA        General Services Administration

NASA       National Aeronautics and Space Administration
COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S             SAVIN!GS AVAILABLE THROUGH A GOVERNMENT-WIDE
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS            PROGRAM TO REHABILITATE INSTRUMENTATION
                                  TAPE
                                  General Services Administration B-164392

DIGEST


WHY THE REVIEW WAS MADE

     Instrumentation tape is a type of magnetic tape used by Federal agencies
     to record instrumentation data and is commonly used in telemetering and
     scientific projects. The information to be recorded is often critical;
     that is, vital and not repeatable. Instrumentation tape therefore must
     be highly reliable.

     The Government's cost of procuring this tape is estimated at $10 million
     annually.
     The General Accounting Office (GAO) noted that the National Aeronautics
     and Space Administration (NASA) was prolonging the useful life of in-
     strumentation tape by rehabilitation--cleaning, testing, and certifying
     the condition of the tape. Because the cost of rehabilitating tape was
     less than the cost of purchasing new tape, NASA realized savings.
     GAO made this review to consider the feasibility of a Government-wide
     program for rehabilitating instrumentation tape.


FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

     The use of new tape exclusively for recording critical data was the
     practice at 11 of the installations included in GAO's review. The
     tape was reused only in secondary, or noncritical, applications. The
     principal justification for this practice was the contention that new
     tape was more reliable than rehabilitated tape. NASA and the National
     Security Agency, however, have established rehabilitation programs for
     instrumentation tape that have proven to be economically and technically
     feasible. (See p. 7.)
     NASA officials told GAO that about 75 percent of the instrumentation tape
     processed by NASA's rehabilitation facility was restored to a condition
     suitable for use in critical applications. According to NASA officials,
     in the first year of the rehabilitation program, 18,000 reels of instru-
     mentation tape having a replacement cost of about $367,000 were success-
     fully rehabilitated at a cost of about $93,300 for labor and supplies
     and-most of the tapes were recirculated to users and performed satisfac-
     torily. (See p. 8.)
     The National Security Agency estimated that procurement savings of $1.2 mil-
     lion had been realized as a result of a June 1969 contract with a commercial
     firm for the rehabilitation of 25,000 reels of instrumentation tape. The
     rehabilitated tapes were being used in critical applications. (See p. 9.)
     GAO's review did not show the quantity of tape available for rehabilitation
     at most of the 11 installations. As an indication of the potential for
     savings, rehabilitation of the quantity of tape procured by the 11 installa-
     tions during fiscal year 1969 would result in procurement savings of
     $890,000--computed on the basis of the percentage of tapes rehabilitated
     for use in critical applications and the costs incurred by the National
     Security Agency. (See p. 10.)
     Some agencies have recognized the potential benefits of effective instrumen-
     tation tape rehabilitation programs, but GAO's review indicates that the
     quantities of such tape procured by individual installations may not war-
     rant the establishment of such programs at all installations. In GAO's
     opinion, a Government-wide program for the rehabilitation of instrumenta-
     tion tape is needed to realize the savings attainable through reduced
     procurements. (See p. 15.)

RECOMENDATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS

     To achieve the economies available through the rehabilitation of instru-
     mentation tape, GAO recommends that the Administrator of General Services
       --enter into a program for the rehabilitation of instrumentation tape
         and
       --promote the use of the rehabilitation program throughout the Govern-
         ment.

AGENCY ACTIONS AND UNRESOLVED ISSUES

     The General Services Administration (GSA) informed GAO that it agreed with
     GAO's recommendations and planned to study the technical and logistical
     requirements and other aspects of a Government-wide program. GSA stated
     that, if the study showed that such a program was feasible, it would ini-
     tiate the program and would notify the agencies of the potential savings.
     In addition, GSA was developing a specification for the rehabilitation of
     instrumentation tape.
    The Assistant Secretary of Defense stated that the Department of Defense
    agreed with GAO's recommendation that GSA enter into a Government-wide
    program for rehabilitation of instrumentation tape.

MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE CONGRESS

    This report informs the Congress of the potential for significant savings
    through the establishment of a Government-wide rehabilitation program for
    instrumentation tape and of the pertinent actions planned by GSA.


                                       2
                         CHAPTER 1

                       INTRODUCTION

     The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act
of 1949, as amended (40 U.S.C. 471), made the General Ser-
vices Administration primarily responsible for providing an
efficient and economical system for the procurement and sup-
ply of personal property and nonpersonal services needed by
Federal agencies and Government-related organizations.
GSA's responsibilities include such related functions as
developing specifications and contracting for services and
supplies and inspecting, storing, and issuing supplies.

     Under contracts awarded by the Federal Supply Service
which operates GSA's supply system, two types of magnetic
tape are available--computer (digital) tape and instrumenta-
tion (analog) tape.

     GSA has prescribed standardized specifications for the
rehabilitation of computer tape--cleaning, testing, and
certifying to the condition of the tape for reuse--and cer-
tain Federal agencies with large inventories of computer
tape have established computer tape rehabilitation programs.
Also some agency installations, although not rehabilitating
computer tape, do clean the tape to prolong its useful life.

     An important factor in determining whether to establish
magnetic tape rehabilitation programs is the relationship of
the cost of rehabilitating tape to the cost of purchasing
new tape. One reason GSA has not established a Government-
wide computer tape rehabilitation program is because of
the small margin between the cost of rehabilitating used
computer tape and the cost of purchasing new tape. We con-
centrated our review on the feasibility of establishing a
Government-wide program for rehabilitating used instrumenta-
tion tape because of:

     -- The much greater potential for significant savings, as
        indicated by the results achieved by two agencies
        under their instrumentation tape rehabilitation pro-
        grams.



                              3
     -- The volume of instrumentation tape purchased annually
        by the agencies. Firm data were not available, but
        estimates by a manufacturer and by a Federal Supply
        Service procurement official indicated that the pur-
        chases amounted to about $10 million annually.

     -- The cost of instrumentation tape, which for the types
        frequently purchased ranged from $17 to $150 a reel
        depending on the size of the reel and the type and
        size of the tape.

     Instrumentation tape is used to record continuous mea-
surements transmitted from electronic measuring devices and
is commonly used in telemetering and scientific projects.
The tape consists of a thin ribbon of plastic, usually poly-
ester, coated with an emulsion of highly refined magnetic
oxide. Because the applications where instrumentation tapes
are usually used are considered critical--where the data are
vital and, in most cases, not repeatable--the tape must be
highly reliable. Therefore a great degree of precision in
uniformity of coating formulation, coating thickness, sur-
face roughness, and other factors is required in the manu-
facture of the tape.

     The operating life expectancy of instrumentation tape
varies depending on its initial quality and its operating
environment. Flaws causing data errors eventually develop
in each tape and are sufficient to render the tape's con-
tinued use impractical. The rehabilitation process is in-
tended to improve the condition of the tape and to prolong
its useful life. Because the condition of each reel of
tape is determined by testing during the rehabilitation
process, the tape can be readily classified as to whether it
is suitable for reuse in critical applications or only in
noncritical applications or whether it should be discarded.

     The condition of tape is affected primarily by external
or self-generated contaminants. External contaminants can
consist of dust, lint, and cigarette ash. Self-generated
contaminants can consist of chips or pieces of magnetic
oxide or plastic backing from the tape. Contaminants may
cause a loss of contact between the recording surface of the
tape and the recording and reading heads of the tape drive,
which results in a reduction in the amplitude of the


                             4
electrical impulses transmitted or received by the heads.
When these reductions in amplitude are of sufficient magni-
tude to cause an error, they are referred to as dropouts.

     Another important source of error is tape distortion
caused by improper winding or storage. Such distortion can
prevent the tape from lying flat against the reading heads,
which results in a dropout.

     The rehabilitation process usually involves the follow-
ing steps.

     -- Visually inspecting the condition of the tape and
        reel.

     -- Cleaning the tape to dislodge and remove the dirt
        particles.

     -- Testing primarily for dropouts and certifying to the
        condition of the tape.

     -- Final degaussing (erasing of signals on the tape)
        and precision winding.

     As shown by the following graphs prepared during a fis-
cal year 1970 study by the Air Force Satellite Control Fa-
cility, tape cleaning--an important step in the rehabilita-
tion process--significantly reduces the dropout count for
both new and used tape and reduces the dropout count for
the used tape to a level well within the acceptable limit
set by the Air Force specifications which govern new tape
procurements. The graphs also show the tendency for dropouts
to occur most often in the recording tracks near the edges
of the tape. On 1/2-inch-wide tape, information can be re-
corded in seven separate tracks running the length of tape.




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                                                                    6
                         CHAPTER 2

          NEED FOR A GOVERNMENT-WIDE PROGRAM FOR

          REHABILITATION OF INSTRUMENTATION TAPE

     The feasibility of rehabilitating instrumentation tape
has been demonstrated by the successful rehabilitation pro-
grams of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
and the National Security Agency. For the most part other
agencies did not have programs for rehabilitating instru-
mentation tape but were reusing tape from one to several
times in noncritical applications. Much of the tape, if re-
habilitated, also could be reused in critical applications.

     On the basis of the instrumentation tape procurements
during fiscal year 1969 at 11 installations included in our
review which were not rehabilitating instrumentation tape,
we estimated that the one-time rehabilitation of an equiva-
lent quantity of tape would have resulted in procurement
savings of $890,000. It is possible that such savings at
these installations would have been substantially higher be-
cause tape can be rehabilitated several times. Further,
since the tape procured at these installations represents
only part of the total tape procured by the Government, a
Government-wide rehabilitation program could result in sub-
stantially higher savings.

FEASIBILITY OF TAPE REHABILITATION

     Department of Defense (DOD) officials advised us that
there was no Department-wide policy or program for rehabil-
itating instrumentation tape. Most of the installations in-
cluded in our review were DOD installations, and they used
only new instrumentation tape for recording critical data.
The principal justification for this practice was the con-
tention that new tape was more reliable than rehabilitated
tape.

     Technicians at Eglin Air Force Base, for example, con-
tended that only new instrumentation tape could be used for
critical recordings. Some of the technicians stated that
the cost of a reel of tape was relatively minor when


                             7
compared with the total cost of the test in which it gen-
erally was used. They maintained that instrumentation tape
was highly sensitive and could not be properly degaussed to
ensure that previously recorded data would not distort sub-
sequent recordings.

     The reservations expressed by technicians apparently
stemmed from some unsatisfactory experiences with rehabil-
itated tape at Eglin in 1963. That rehabilitation program,
though generally considered successful, was discontinued for
budgetary reasons. Since that time, improvements have been
made in tape quality and in rehabilitation equipment and
techniques. For example, GSA officials advised us that sev-
eral degaussers were available which destroyed residual re-
cordings to a level which effectively eliminated any adverse
effects on subsequent recordings.

     Successful rehabilitation programs have been estab-
lished by NASA and the National Security Agency, as discussed
below.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

      In January 1969 NASA expanded its tape rehabilitation
program at the Goddard Space Flight Center to provide for
the rehabilitation of instrumentation tape. A NASA official
advised us that the tape rehabilitation facility had been
established because NASA had recognized that it was less
costly to rehabilitate tape than to purchase new tape. Also,
a NASA official informed us that the rehabilitated tape had
been restored to a condition suitable for use in critical
applications and that, when properly rehabilitated, used
tape was preferred over new tape in recording critical data
for satellite operations because the condition of each reel
of tape was tested and certified during the rehabilitation
process.

     NASA officials stated that the rehabilitation process
was both economical and practical and that about 75 percent
of the processed instrumentation tape had been restored to
a condition suitable for use in critical applications. They
advised us that, in the initial year of operation, 18,000
reels of instrumentation tape having a replacement cost of
about $367,000 had been rehabilitated successfully at a cost


                             8
of about $93,300 for labor and supplies. 1 They advised us
also that most of the rehabilitated tapes had been recircu-
lated to NASA users and had performed satisfactorily.

National Security Agency

     In June 1969 the National Security Agency, realizing
the practicality of, and cost benefits attainable through,
a tape rehabilitation program, negotiated a contract for the
rehabilitation at the contractor's facility of 25,000 reels
of high-quality instrumentation tape. By August 1970 the
contractor had certified that 62.4 percent of the processed
tapes met the Agency's requirements for use in critical ap-
plications. Agency officials advised us that these tapes
were being reused in critical applications and that, in ad-
dition, 8.5 percent of the processed tapes had met the
Agency's requirements for use in noncritical applications.

     The contractor's report to the Agency showed that the
rehabilitation process under the contract had been similar
to NASA's process and that the cost to rehabilitate the tape
had been about $17 a reel. 2 Agency officials estimated that,
as a result of reduced procurements, savings of $1.2 million
were realized as a result of the rehabilitation of tape un-
der this contract. Agency officials advised us that the
rehabilitated tape had performed satisfactorily and that, as
a result, the Agency had advertised formally for contracts
for the rehabilitation of additional tape. Four companies
submitted bids. The above-mentioned contractor was awarded
the contract in February 1971 at the low-bid price of $10.07
a reel. The contract provides that space and utilities be
furnished by the Agency.



1NASA's direct costs were about $5 a reel; no costs were as-
 signed for overhead or equipment.

2 Thedifference between NASA's and the National Security
 Agency's rehabilitation costs for each reel appeared to be
 due to several factors, including (1) most of the tape re-
 habilitated by the National Security Agency was wider and
 longer and (2) NASA's cost did not include equipment and
 overhead costs.


                             9
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SAVINGS THROUGH USE
OF REHABILITATED INSTRUMENTATION TAPE

     Of the installations included in our review, 11 did not
rehabilitate instrumentation tape and used only new tape in
critical applications. Generally the tape was reused from
one to several times in noncritical applications and then
was disposed of rather than rehabilitated.

     In most instances our review did not show the amount of
tape that the installations might have had available for re-
habilitation. The potential for savings achievable by a re-
habilitation program was indicated by the installations'
purchases of instrumentation tape at a cost of about $2.5 mil-
lion in fiscal year 1969. We estimated that the one-time
rehabilitation of an equivalent quantity of tape would have
resulted in procurement savings of about $890,000. (See
app. I.)

     These savings were computed on the basis of the 62.4-
percent recovery rate and the rehabilitation costs of $17.20
a reel experienced by the National Security Agency under
its June 1969 contract. If the computation had been based
on the Agency's current contract rehabilitation cost of
$10.07 a reel or on NASA's 75-percent recovery rate, the
indicated savings would have been substantially greater.

     Following are two examples of installations which did
not rehabilitate instrumentation tape.

Eglin Air Force Base

     The mission of Eglin Air Force Base involves the re-
search, development, test, and evaluation of aircraft arma-
ment and munitions. Instrumentation tape is used to accumu-
late the vast amounts of test data required to support
Eglin's mission. After the data are processed and are no
longer needed, the tapes are sold for scrap or are used for
low-grade recordings. All critical test data are recorded
on new tape, although some tape is reused without rehabili-
tation for backup recordings.

     On the basis of the National Security Agency's experi-
ence, the rehabilitation of instrumentation tape for reuse


                            10
at Eglin virtually would have eliminated the need to procure
new tape in fiscal years 1969 and 1970, as shown below.

                 Item                         Fiscal year

                                             1969     1970

Number of reels of instrumentation tape
  available for low-grade recordings or
  disposition; that is, tape which could
  have been made available for rehabili-
  tation                                     2,068    3,007
Percentage of reels of tape recovered
  for use in critical applications under
  the National Security Agency's reha-
  bilitation program                          62.4     (2.4
Estimated number of reels of rehabili-
  tated tape which could have been re-
  used                                       1,290    1,876
Number of reels of instrumentation tape
  procured                                   1,521    1,654

     Eglin had 5,075 reels of instrumentation tape that
could have been made available for rehabilitation during fis-
cal years 1969 and 1970. Instead, 1,807 reels, procured at
an estimated cost of $56,163, were sold to various commer-
cial sources for $642; 2,355 reels were provided to other
agencies for use in low-grade voice recordings or other sec-
ondary purposes; and 913 reels were on hand at June 30, 1970,
awaiting disposition.

     We estimated that, if the rehabilitation of the 5,075
reels of instrumentation tape had been undertaken and had
resulted in the recovery of 62.4 percent of the tape for re-
use--the recovery rate experienced by the National Security
Agency--the procurement of new tape could have been reduced
and savings of $56,000 could have been realized. On the
basis of the recovery rate of 75 percent experienced by
NASA, the savings in procurement costs would have amounted
to $67,000.

White Sands Missile Range

     White Sands Missile Range supports missile test programs
of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, DOD, and NASA. White
Sands uses instrumentation tape to record instrumentation
data on rocket and missile test programs. White Sands offi-
cials advised us that all instrumentation data collected on
the range were recorded on new tapes and that these tapes
were not rehabilitated and reused for critical missions.
Some tapes were reused for secondary purposes, such as
backup recordings, without having been rehabilitated.

     White Sands officials stated that the practice of one-
time usage of instrumentation tape for critical applications
was based on the belief that new tape was more reliable than
rehabilitated tape. The officials acknowledged, however,
that rehabilitated tape had never been used at White Sands
and that tape rehabilitation might be feasible if there were
sufficient volume of used tape.

     The volume of used tape that had been disposed of dur-
ing fiscal year 1969 was not readily determinable. White
Sands officials stated also that instrumentation tape was
classified as an expendable supply item and that controls
had not been established over the use and disposition of the
tape. As a result they were unable to estimate the number
of reels of tape which could have been rehabilitated during
fiscal years 1969 and 1970.

     White Sands officials estimated, however, that approxi-
mately 2,430 reels of used tape, which had been procured at
an estimated cost of $124,000, were on hand and awaiting
disposition as of June 30, 1970. We estimated that, on the
basis of the rehabilitation recovery rate (62.4 percent) and
cost ($17.20 a reel) experienced by the National Security
Agency, new tape procurement costs of about $51,600 could
have been avoided through the rehabilitation of the tape
awaiting disposition.




                            12
POTENTIAL FOR A GOVERNMENT-WIDE PROGRAM
FOR REHABILITATION OF INSTRUMENTATION TAPE

      Our review indicated that GSA could establish a
Government-wide instrumentation tape rehabilitation program
which would meet the varying requirements of different agen-
cies.

     We recognize that GSA's undertaking a Government-wide
program would require the consideration of various factors
inherent in establishing such a program. These factors in-
clude the specific guidance to be provided to the agencies,
the approximate level of demand for the service, the decision
as to whether contractors should be used, and the obligations
to be imposed on participating agencies and contractors.

     The establishment and operation of a Government-wide
tape rehabilitation program would be facilitated if tape
were procured under standardized specifications providing a
uniform standard against which the tape's acceptability for
reuse could be measured during the rehabilitation process.
GSA made considerable progress in the development of a stan-
dardized procurement specification, but the specification
had not been adopted upon completion of our review.

     An official of a major rehabilitation contractor in-
formed us of his opinion that it would be feasible for GSA
to issue a contract with open specifications for the number
of dropouts--the major condition tested in the rehabilitation
process. He stated that the contract could set forth a def-
inition of a dropout, and an agency submitting tapes for re-
habilitation could specify the maximum number of dropouts
acceptable on the rehabilitated tape. He stated also that,
although the quality of the rehabilitated tape would be de-
pendent on the specification under which it was procured
originally, the quality that met that specification should
be acceptable to the agency that had procured the tape.

     The potential for a competitive price for such a con-
tract appears to exist; the National Security Agency received
bids from four firms for a contract to continue the Agency's
rehabilitation program. Also, depending on the economic and
policy factors involved, the rehabilitation service could be


                             13
provided through Government-operated, centralized or decen-
tralized facilities or through combinations of Government
and commercial facilities and services.




                            14
                         CHAPTER 3

     CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND AGENCY COMMENTS

CONCLUSIONS

     In our opinion, a Government-wide program for the re-
habilitation of instrumentation tape is needed to realize
the savings attainable through reduced procurements. Some
agencies have recognized the potential benefits of effective
instrumentation tape rehabilitation programs, but our review
indicates that the quantities of such tape procured by in-
dividual installations may not warrant the establishment of
such programs at all installations. Also some agencies or
installations appear to have reservations as to the perfor-
mance capabilities of rehabilitated tape. These reserva-
tions, however, are not supported by the recent experiences
of NASA and the National Security Agency which have estab-
lished successful instrumentation tape rehabilitation pro-
grams.

     We believe, therefore, that GSA should make a Government-
wide rehabilitation program for instrumentation tape avail-
able to the agencies and should promote its use by informing
the agencies of the successful experiences of NASA and the
National Security Agency.

     Although the establishment and operation of a Government-
wide instrumentation tape rehabilitation program would be
facilitated by the adoption of standardized tape procurement
specifications against which to measure the acceptability
of rehabilitated tape for reuse, our review indicates that
the rehabilitation of tape currently in use is also feasible.

     The rehabilitation service could be provided by
Government-operated, centralized or decentralized facilities,
but it is not necessary that GSA use this direct means to
provide the service. The National Security Agency has dem-
onstrated that the use of a commercial contractor is another
practicable means of providing the rehabilitation service.



              .                                 ,~~~~~1
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE
ADMINISTRATOR OF GENERAL SERVICES

     To achieve economies that are available through the
rehabilitation of instrumentation tape, we recommend that
the Administrator of General Services

     -- enter into a program for the rehabilitation of in-
        strumentation tape and

     -- promote the use of the rehabilitation program through-
        out the Government.

COMMENTS BY GSA AND DOD

     The Assistant Administrator of GSA stated that GSA
agreed with the recommendations and planned to implement
them by (1) initiating a study of the interrelated facets
of a Government-wide program, (2) developing a specification
for rehabilitating the tape, and (3) initiating a Government-
wide rehabilitation program--if shown to be feasible by the
GSA study--and notifying agencies of the establishment of
the program and of potential savings.   (See app. II.)

     The Assistant Secretary of Defense stated that there
was complete agreement within DOD with the recommendation
that a Government-wide rehabilitation program be established
by GSA. He stated also that DOD would participate in the
development of the program if requested to do so. (See
app. III.)

     Both the Assistant Administrator of GSA and the Assis-
tant Secretary of Defense indicated certain areas of con-
cern, such as logistics, security, technical requirements,
the future of existing rehabilitation facilities, and the
relative procurement cost of new tape, which should be con-
sidered in entering into a Government-wide rehabilitation
program.

     We agree that due consideration should be given to
such factors before implementing a Government-wide program.
Our review was directed toward what we considered to be the
primary consideration; that is, whether a Government-wide



                             16
rehabilitation program would be technically and economically
feasible. We believe that such a program is technically
and economically feasible.

     Our review indicates also that the quantities of tape
used by many installations may not warrant the establishment
of individual rehabilitation programs, that there is a need
to advise agencies' technical and administrative personnel
as to the performance capabilities of rehabilitated tape
and the economies that can be realized through its use, and
that the varying quality and performance capabilities of
the tape presently in agencies' inventories do not preclude
the establishment of a Government-wide program.




                             17
                         CHAPTER 4

                      SCOPE OF REVIEW

     We reviewed pertinent legislation, regulations, poli-
cies, procedures, and practices relating to rehabilitation
of instrumentation tape. We also interviewed agency offi-
cials responsible for the supply and use of instrumentation
tapes.

     Our review included onsite examinations of the prac-
tices relating to the rehabilitation and reuse of instrumen-
tation tape at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; White Sands
Missile Range, New Mexico; the Space and Missile Test Center,
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; the National Security Agency,
Ft. Meade, Maryland; and the Federal Supply Service, Arling-
ton, Virginia, and Gaithersburg, Maryland.

      We also obtained information regarding the rehabilita-
tion and reuse of instrumentation tape through question-
naires sent to the Atomic Energy Commission Operations Of-
fices in Albuquerque, New Mexico,and San Francisco, Cali-
fornia; the Air Force Satellite Control Facility, Los Ange-
les, California; the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards
Air Force Base, California; the Naval Weapons Center, China
Lake, California; the Federal Aviation Administration, At-
lantic City, New Jersey; the Kwajalein Missile Range,
Kwajalein, Marshall Islands; and the Air Force Eastern Test
Range, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Additional informa-
tion regarding instrumentation tape was obtained from major
tape manufacturers and from a commercial tape rehabilitation
firm.




                             18
APPENDIXES




 19
:I 0
                                                    APPENDIX I


      POTENTIAL FOR SAVINGS AT SELECTED INSTALLATIONS

         BASED ON PROCUREMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 1969



                                          Fiscal year 1969
                                            procurements
                                       Number of
            Installation                 reels       Cost

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE                        1,521   $      30,526

VANDENBURG AIR FORCE BASE                   1,817         144,106

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE                   7,067         264,709

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE                      1,320          89,155

AIR FORCE SATELLITE CONTROL FACILITY       26,471       1,054,007

NAVAL WEAPONS CENTER                        1,262          26,527

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION               300           7,014

KWAJALEIN MISSILE RANGE                       406          49,882

U.S. ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION:
    San Francisco Operations Office           265          19,456
    Albuquerque Operations Office           2,360         112,846

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE                     18,515         682,172

        Total                              61,304   $2,480,400

NUMBER OF REHABILITATIVE REELS (61,304 x 62.4%7)           38,254

AVERAGE COST FOR EACH REEL ($2,480,400.     61,304) $      40.46

REPLACEMENT COST OF REHABILITATIVE REELS             1,547,757

LESS COST TO REHABILITATE (38,254 x $17.20)              657,969

        Savings                                     $     889,788


                            21
  APPENDIX II


                           UNITED STATES OF AMERICA                    A
                  GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
                              WASHINGTON,     D.C.   20405




 APR 22 1971


 Honorable Elmer B. Staats
 Comptroller General of the United States
 General Accounting Office
 Washington, D. C. Z0548

 Dear Mr. Staats:

 This is in reply to your letter of March 12, 1971, transmitting your
 draft report "Need for a Government-Wide Program for the Rehabilitation
 of Instrumentation Tape".

 We have carefully reviewed your draft report and our comments and
 recommendations are enclosed.

 If we can provide additional information, please let us know.

 Sincerely,




 arjcl.d S. Trinmmer, J
Assistant Administrator



 Enclo sure



                 Keep Freedom in four Future With U.S. Savings Bonds




                                         22
                                                         APPENDIX II



                                                      Enclosure




      GAO Draft Report "'Jeed for a Government-Wide Program
         for the Rehabilitation of Instrumentation Tape"


We agree with the recommendations and plan the following actions
to implement them.

1. Initiate a study of all the interrelated facets of a Government-
wide program.   These would include technical requirements, logistics
problems, levels of demand, agency guidance, imposed agency obliga-
tions, etc.   These considerations must be balanced by realistic
appraisal of real life conditions existing at the time, such as:
relative procurement costs of new tape and impact upon tape suppliers.

We do not have sufficient resources to immediately accomplish this
study.  However, it will be scheduled as soon as they become
available.

2. Develop a specification for the rehabilitation of instrumentation
tape.

This specification is now under development and will be ready for
use by the end of 1971.

We believe that this specification is necessary to support an effec-
tive Government--wide tape rehabilitation program. It will establish
characteristics and performance criteria by which tape performance as
well as performance of facility doing the rehabilitation (either in-
house or by contract) can be evaluated.

We are convinced that the use of a specification will be economical
and efficient in support of a Government-wide program for instru-
mentation tape rehabilitation.

3. If the study mentioned above proves that a Government-wide tape
rehabilitation program is feasible, one will be initiated and agencies
will be notified of its establishment and of any potential cost
savings which may be realized.




                                                              FSS/FM




                                   23
APPENDIX III




                               ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
                                   WASHINGTON, D.C.   20301




  co.~oru.
                                                                17 MAY 1971

       Mr. C. M. Bailey
       Director, Defense Division
       U. S. General Accounting Office

       Dear Mr. Bailey:

            This is in response to your request of March 22, 1971 for comments on
       the draft report of the "Need for a Government-Wide Program for the
       Rehabilitation of Instrumentation Tape" (OSD Case #3256).

            The draft report has been reviewed by the Military Departments and
       cognizant Defense Agencies. Although there is complete agreement with
       the recommendation for the establishment of a Government-wide rehabilita-
       tion program by the General Services Administration to reduce the require-
       ments for the purchase of new tapes, several areas of concern have been
       expressed by one or more of the DoD Components.

              For your consideration in the preparation of the final report, these
       are:


                1. On-going rehabilitation efforts such as those at National
       Security Agency, Eastern Test Range (Patrick AFB), and Western Test Range
       (Vandenberg AFB) should not be replaced unless significant additional
       savings can be proven without degradation of service.

                2. The use of rehabilitated tapes for critical or nonrepeatable
       events should be left to the discretion of the using activity to preclude
       any undue and possible disastrous impact on high cost programs.

                3. The problem of security in the handling and shipping of tapes
       that have been used for the recording of highly classified data must be
       resolved. It is the practice of many activities that once a tape has
       been used for recording of classified data, it is never used for any
       lesser classification and therefore must be safeguarded.




                                           24
                                                            APPENDIX III




     The Department of Defense supports the idea of a General Services
Administration sponsored tape rehabilitation program and appreciates the
opportunity to comment on the draft report. We will continue to share
our rehabilitation experiences with GSA and will participate in the program
development if requested to do so.  The extent of our use of the services
offered will depend on their quality and the economy which they achieve.

                                Sincerely,




                                   Robert C. Moot
                           Assistant Secretary of Defense




                                      25
APPENDIX IV


                    PRINCIPAL OFFICIALS OF

              THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

     RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE hATTERS

                  DISCUSSED IN THIS REPORT


                                         Tenure of office
                                         From          To

ADMINISTRATOR OF GENERAL SERVICES:
    Robert L. Kunzig                  Mar.   1969    Present
    Lawson B. Knott, Jr.              Nov.   1964    Feb. 1969

COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL   SUPPLY SER-
  VICE:
    Lewis E. Spangler   (acting)      May    1971    Present
    H. A. Abersfeller                 Mar.   1970    May   1971
    Lewis E. Spangler   (acting)      Dec.   1969    Mar. 1970
    Arthur F. Sampson                 June   1969    Dec. 1969.
    Lewis E. Spangler   (acting)      May    1969    June 1969
    H. A. Abersfeller                 May    1964    May   1969




                                                    U.S. GAO. Wash., D.C.

                               26