DCOIUENT RESUEE 04536 [B0185075] [Deficiencies in HUns Cohputer Tape Library]. November 30, 1977. 5 pp. Report to illias A. edina, Department of Housing and rban Development: Assistant Secretary for Administration; by Richard J. oods, Associate Director, Community and cono,£c Development Div. Issue Area: Automatic ata Processing: Acquiring and Using Resources (102). Contact: Community and Economic Development Div. Budget Function: iscellaneous: Automatic Data Processing (1001). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses about 26,000 computer tapes which aro stored and aintained in HUD's tape library. The ntrnal.controls over these tapes were reviewed to determine whether the tapes were adequately secared and used. indings/Conclusicis: The Office of ADP operations needs to strengthen its control over the library ad tapes. A significant number of tapes were held in the library beyond the scheduled retention dates. This could have resulted in additional costs because those tapes were unavailable fo. reuse. Because of tape identification problems, librarians have difficulty finding thousands of tapes, limiting or negating the intended se of the tapes. About 4% of the apes say have ben lost or splaced. During the times librarians are not on duty, other personnel can gain access to computer tapes if they possess a computerized security card. It s difficult for librarians to prevent other personnel fro4 entering the library. kscomaendations: HUD should: make physical inventory of the computer tapes to correct incorrect listings used as controls and continue the inventory on a periodic basis to retain a high degree o accuracy, establish procedures to assure that tapes are only retained for reasonable periods, and examine procedures relating to access to the library to reduce the potential for aisplacement o loss of tapes. (RBS) - ..... -L- : * . , _la x ' :: UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON, D.C.. 20548 C0I1MUNITY AND ECONOMIC No EoPMENT DIVISION NIV 30 1977 - Mr. William A. Medina O Assistant Secretary for .i. Administration Department of Housing and . Urban Development - Dear Mr. K:edina: Our Office annually performs a.:rview-of-the financial statements of the Federal: Housing-Adm.inisti-atlon ;(FHA) to express an opinion on the reasonableness of igs f-inancial position. During our audits we make considarable use of the Department of ousing and UrbanDevelcpent's-CHUD's) computers and tape files because a large partfof FHA's records are computerized. HUD uses about 26,200-computer QCAll X L- Ltb IILIU± LU I.l LV11 UV L pL PI LJL Cl-: iI>LUUL! r nf Z insurance operations. These tapes are stored and main- tained in HUD's tape library. During our fisa-l year 1976 financial examination we reviewed HUD's internal ontrols over the tapes to determine whetter-the tapes were- aCzquately tilized and secured. Our eview showed a need for -ie Office of ADP Operations to strengthen its control over the ibrary and tapes. In summ-Ly, our test showed that a significant number of tapes :;,re bei.ng heid in the library beyond scheduled retention dates. This could result in additional cots to HUD because those tapes were unavailable for reuse.. Further, we found that because of tape identification problems, tape librarians may have trouble finding thousands of tapes, thus limiting or negating the intended use of the tapes. Our review also showed that about 4 percent of the tapes may be lost or mis- placed and that personnel other then librarians have access to the tape library. We are recommending tat controls o'er the library and tapes be strengthened by reinstating the practice of taking a periodic invc:,tory of the tapes in the library, establishing more efective procedures for dealing with tape retertion periods, and improving procedures to limit access to the tape library. NEED FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN CONTROL OVER COMPT.ER TAPES Each of the 26,000 tapes in HUD's tape library contained, among other information, a label identifying the type of data included on the tape and a retention period set by the users, after which, according to HUD officials, the tape should be scratched and reused. The label permitted the librarian to identify tapes needed in the ADP operations. The retention period recorded on each tape permits the most economical use of HUD's 26,000 tapes because unneeded tapes call be scratched at the proper time and reused. If the retention perids are not properly utilized, HEUD could unnecessarily purchase new tapes. An automated system is used to .. coiunt for and control the computer tape inventory. An ADP listing is made weekly of the inventory. It identifies each tape by number and shows the file identification on te label and retention date. Prior to Febrauay i976, physical inventori.es comparing ~.computer tapes to the ADP listing were made semiannually to correct mislabeled tapes and correct erroneous entries found .on the Inventory listing.' However, this practice was _~t i?. o n t ofn nfficials believed that the 'inventory listing was an adequate control over the computer tapes. Since the discontinuance of the physical inventory, computer personnel depend on the inventory listings as being accurate. We reviewed the dependability of the ADP listing as a control mechanism over the 26,000 tapes included in the library. Our test, a random sample of 225 tapes, included a comparison of data shown on the listing with daca shown on --- -. he-.tapes .. found that for about 76 percert. of the tapes the labels or the retention date on the listing did not - i - mat&-t-th-h--e-tries on--the tapes, the tapes were kept in the library eyond the retention date, there were no retention - aes--on- th-e-lising or tapes, or the tapes could not be located. The fcllowing chart shows the results of our test. -__ -,.2 . - -- . - -.. 2 Error Rate Projected to Deficiency Error Rate (Total number of tapes) File identification on tape label did not match file identification on listing 12.9 3,377 Tapes kept beyond maximum rtsention date _ 23.6 6,179 Retention data on tape label did not match cetention data on: listing - :19.1 5,001 No retention data n - - either listing or tape -16.0 4,189 Tapes could not be 'ocated 4.4 1,152 Sub-Total, deticiencies 76.0 19,898 F11 intification and retention data on tape label match data on listing 24.G 6,283 Total -100 26,181 Because the ADS listing is an essential part of the internal control of the library, we believe it is inportat to the efficient utilization of the tapes for the ADP listing to .,qurately account for the 26,18' tapes. Since the AP listing is used to locae tapes;,'the 1ibr'ariians might find 1 ;very di-fficultr.even --- _impossible to locate a tape when the label entry on'th"'ADP listinc; used to identify a tape differs from ..the.,label on,_thb_tape. Our test shows the probability that over 3,300 tapes were in this category. The problem of -retention of tapes appears to be worse, since over 6,Or0 tapes may have- been kept beyond th maximum retention date. Retention status of over 9,000 additional tapes is unclear -- - be.cause--itho-r-retentior. data on the tapes and listing differ, or there is no rentention data recorded. The degree of inaccuracy of the ADP listing clearly justifies the resumption of a periodic physical inventory of the tapes to establish and keep current the accuracy of the ADP listing. .................... 3 ADP officials informed us that determination of retention periods is essentially the responsibility of the user. Because o past criticism from users with respect to scratching of omputer tapes, ADP Operations officials told us they were reluctant, at times, to scratch outdated tapes. We believe that the user should determine within specific guidelines what the retention peric should be, however, ADP Oerations should be responsible for assuring that tapes are scratched and available for reuse within the established guidelines. This is especially important since our test shows that almost 24 percent of the tapes were kept in the library longer than the retention period established by the user and the retention status of an additional 35 percent is unclear. We believe improvements are necessary to decrease the overretention rate. Based -on the cost of computer tapes as of June 1977, it is possible that HUD could save about $49,000 if the 6,179 tapes projected by our test as being overretained could be utilized. Further, our test showed that about 4 percent or over 1,100 tapes could have been lost or misplaced. While we d Q,_QtteE e t tct determine the potential causes of the deficiency, we noted that HUD employs tape librarians to .................. ,. ul= i .LU.L tape ilorary auring normal business hours. During other times librarians are not on duty and personnel can gain access to computer tapes if they possess a computerized security card. We observed that the double doors between the computer hardware room and computer tape library were unlocked, Inaking it extremely difficult for the tape librarians to prevent personnel from entering the library. --. --We observed a number of individuals other than librarians in the tape library selecting and leaving with tapes, creating ---- shrtuatiwhere critical compkiter tapes could be misplaced or lost. RECOMMENDATIONS HUD's-inventory of about 26,000 computer tapes; represents a -substantial nvestmenC not only in dollars but also in -invalitablu aiounts of program data. A requirement for adequate control ove£ these tapes is obviously an essential part of HUD's computer operations. We therefore, reommecnd that: 4 -- a physical inventory be ade of the computer tapes to correct th- ADP listing used as a control over these tapes and that such an inventory be continued on a periodic basis to rcain a high degree of accuracy of the listing, -- procedures be established to assure that computer tapes are onlr retained for reasonable periods and thereafter made available for reuse, and --current procedures relating to access to the library by individuals other than librai:ans be examined- with the objective of reducir,- the po t ential for misplacement or loss of computer tapes. We would appreciate being advised of -any actions you take or plan to te with regard to the matters discussed in-this report. Should you wish to discuss these matters in more-detail, we would be pleased to meet with you or members of your staff. We appreciate the cooperation given our representatives during this examination. : -rAd--'~ "~ . . . /eSo~inrely- ...... yours,._ Richard J. Wo s- Associate Director _- J. _ .=-... 5
Deficiencies in HUD's Computer Tape Library
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-11-30.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)