oversight

Land Management Systems: Major Software Development Does Not Meet BLM's Business Needs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-04-30.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Secretary of the Interior




April 1999
                  LAND MANAGEMENT
                  SYSTEMS
                  Major Software
                  Development Does Not
                  Meet BLM’s Business
                  Needs




GAO/AIMD-99-135
                      United States
GAO                   General Accounting Office
                      Washington, D.C. 20548

                      Accounting and Information
                      Management Division

                      B-282446

                      April 30, 1999

                      The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
                      The Secretary of the Interior

                      Dear Mr. Secretary:

                      On March 4, 1999, we testified before the Subcommittee on Interior and
                      Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations, on the Bureau of
                      Land Management’s (BLM) efforts to develop and deploy the Automated
                      Land and Mineral Record System (ALMRS).1 In our testimony, we
                      (1) reported that BLM spent over 15 years and invested about $411 million
                      in planning and developing the ALMRS/Modernization, only to have the
                      major software component—known as the ALMRS Initial Operating
                      Capability (ALMRS IOC)—not meet its business needs and (2) recommended
                      actions that we believe BLM should take to deal with the issues it now
                      faces.

                      This report transmits our recommendations to assist BLM in strengthening
                      its information technology management practices and reducing the risks
                      that future information technology efforts will result in a similar outcome.
                      We are sending this report to you because of the significant investment
                      BLM has made in the ALMRS/Modernization and the department’s stated
                      intent to use ALMRS as its land management system. Our testimony is
                      reprinted in appendix I, and our objectives, scope, and methodology are
                      presented in appendix II. As you know, we incorporated BLM’s comments
                      into our testimony before finalizing it. We performed our work from
                      July 20, 1998 to March 3, 1999, in accordance with generally accepted
                      government auditing standards.


                      We recommend that the Secretary of the Interior ensure that BLM take the
Recommendations       following specific actions, as stated in our March 4, 1999 testimony:

                  •   Thoroughly analyze the ALMRS IOC software, reported to cost more than
                      $67 million, to determine whether it can be cost-beneficially modified to
                      meet the bureau’s needs. This analysis should be part of an overall effort
                      to identify and assess all viable alternatives, including (1) modifying ALMRS
                      IOC software, (2) modifying existing land and recordation systems,
                      (3) acquiring commercial, off-the-shelf software, or (4) developing new


                      1
                       Land Management Systems: Major Software Development Does Not Meet BLM’s Business Needs
                      (GAO/T-AIMD-99-102, March 4, 1999).



                      Page 1                                       GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
    B-282446




    systems. The alternatives analysis should clearly identify the risks, costs,
    and benefits of each alternative, and should be performed only after BLM is
    assured that it has fully verified its current business requirements.
•   Assess and strengthen its investment management practices to help avoid
    future problems. The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 seeks to maximize the
    return on investments in information systems by requiring agencies to
    institute sound capital investment decision-making. Under the act,
    agencies must design and implement a process for maximizing the value
    and assessing and managing the risks of information technology
    acquisitions. The act also requires agencies to (1) assess the knowledge
    and skills of their executive and management staff to meet agencies’
    information resources management requirements, and take steps to rectify
    any deficiencies and (2) develop, maintain, and facilitate the
    implementation of a sound and integrated information technology
    architecture. Effectively enforcing a sound information technology
    architecture to guide and constrain a modernization program can preclude
    inconsistent systems design and development decisions, suboptimal
    performance, and excessive cost.
•   Obtain an independent assessment of its systems acquisition capabilities,
    and ensure that it uses sound systems acquisition processes.

    Finally, we recommend that until such assessments are completed and
    corrective actions taken, BLM should not undertake any sizable systems
    acquisition or development efforts.


    This report contains recommendations to you. The head of a federal
    agency is required by 31 U.S.C. 720 to submit a written statement on
    actions taken on these recommendations to the Senate Committee on
    Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform
    not later than 60 days after the date of this report. A written statement also
    must be sent to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations with
    the agency’s first request for appropriations made more than 60 days after
    the date of this report.

    We are sending copies of this report to Representative Ralph Regula,
    Chairman, and Representative Norman Dicks, Ranking Minority Member,
    Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies, House Committee on
    Appropriations; and Senator Slade Gorton, Chairman, and Senator
    Robert C. Byrd, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Interior and
    Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Appropriations. We are also
    sending copies of this report to The Honorable Jacob Lew, Director, Office



    Page 2                                GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
B-282446




of Management and Budget, and Mr. Tom Fry, Acting Director, Bureau of
Land Management. Copies will also be made available to others upon
request.

Should you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please
contact me at (202) 512-6253. I can also be reached by e-mail at
willemssenj.aimd@gao.gov. Major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix III.

Sincerely yours,




Joel C. Willemssen
Director, Civil Agencies Information
  Systems




Page 3                                 GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Contents



Letter                                                                                         1


Appendix I                                                                                     6
GAO’s March 4, 1999
Testimony
Appendix II                                                                                   18
Objectives, Scope,
and Methodology
Appendix III                                                                                  19
Major Contributors to
This Report
Related Products                                                                              20




                        Abbreviations

                        ALMRS    Automated Land and Mineral Record System
                        BLM      Bureau of Land Management
                        IOC      initial operating capability
                        IRM      information resources management
                        OAT&E    operational assessment test and evaluation


                        Page 4                           GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Page 5   GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Appendix I

GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




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Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




Page 16                         GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Appendix I
GAO’s March 4, 1999 Testimony




Page 17                         GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Appendix II

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


              As requested by the Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies,
              House Committee on Appropriations, our objectives were to discuss
              (1) the history of the ALMRS/Modernization project, (2) the results of our
              reviews, including key reasons for problems, and (3) where we believe BLM
              should go from here.

              To meet our first objective, we used our prior reports to compile a history
              of the ALMRS/Modernization project. We also reviewed ALMRS/Modernization
              project documents, weekly activity reports and assessments by the
              independent verification and validation contractor, software problem
              reports, and project management schedules. We attended the Department
              of the Interior’s August 4-6, 1998, quarterly review of the development
              project at the ALMRS/Modernization project office in Lakewood, Colorado,
              and observed the independent operational assessment test and evaluation
              (OAT&E) conducted at BLM offices in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Farmington,
              and Taos, New Mexico. We also reviewed the results of the OAT&E. To meet
              our second objective, we reviewed our prior reports and briefings to the
              Subcommittee and summarized the major problems, causes,
              recommendations, and BLM’s actions to correct problems. To meet our
              third objective, we formulated recommendations based on our analysis of
              the OAT&E results and our observations and analyses of the management of
              the ALMRS/Modernization project from March 1995 to March 1999.

              During our work we discussed the project with prime contractor officials;
              contractor officials responsible for independent OAT&E and verification and
              validation; a Department of the Interior senior technical analyst; Interior’s
              Chief Information Officer; officials of the department’s Office of Inspector
              General; BLM’s Assistant Director and Deputy Assistant Director for IRM;
              and BLM budget analysts.

              We performed our work at Interior’s information resources management
              headquarters in Washington, D.C.; BLM headquarters in Washington, D.C.;
              the ALMRS/Modernization project office in Lakewood, Colorado; the prime
              contractor’s office in Golden, Colorado; ALMRS pilot site offices in Santa Fe,
              Albuquerque, Farmington, and Taos, New Mexico; and the independent
              OAT&E and verification and validation contractor’s office in the
              ALMRS/Modernization project office in Lakewood, Colorado. We requested
              and received comments on a draft of our testimony from the Deputy
              Director of BLM and incorporated BLM’s comments as appropriate. We
              performed our work from July 20, 1998 to March 3, 1999, in accordance
              with generally accepted government auditing standards.




              Page 18                               GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report


                       David G. Gill, Assistant Director
Accounting and         Mirko J. Dolak, Technical Assistant Director
Information            E. Randolph Tekeley, Technical Assistant Director
Management Division,   Elizabeth A. Roach, Analyst-in-Charge
                       Michael P. Fruitman, Communications Analyst
Washington, D.C.




                       Page 19                             GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
Related Products


              Land Management Systems: Actions Needed in Completing the Automated
              Land and Mineral Record System Development (GAO/AIMD-98-107, May 15,
              1998).

              Land Management Systems: Information on BLM’s Automated Land and
              Mineral Record System Release 2 Project (GAO/AIMD-97-109R, June 6, 1997).

              Land Management Systems: BLM Faces Risks in Completing the Automated
              Land and Mineral Record System (GAO/AIMD-97-42, March 19, 1997).

              Land Management Systems: Progress and Risks in Developing BLM’s Land
              and Mineral Record System (GAO/AIMD-95-180, August 31, 1995).

              Land Management Systems: Extensive Cost Increases and Delays in BLM’s
              Major Data Base Project (GAO/IMTEC-91-55, August 5, 1991).




(511749)      Page 20                              GAO/AIMD-99-135 BLM Software Development
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