Air Force ADP: The Personnel Concept III System Is Not Ready for Deployment

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-02-27.

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

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 Fdtrwary               l!b!N
                                            AIR F O R C E ADP
                                            The Personnel Concept
                                            III Sy s tem Is Not
                                            Ready for Deployment

          --*   .~-    ---
           (;A( )/ I M’I’FX :-!W % 2
c                      United States
                       General Accounting Office
                       Washington, DC. 20648

                       Information    Management   and
                       Technology    Division


                       February 27,199O

                       The Honorable John P. Murtha
                       Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense
                       Committee on Appropriations
                       House of Representatives

                       Dear Mr. Chairman:

                       In September 1989, your office requested that we review the Air Force’s
                       development of the Personnel Concept III (PC-III) system. PC-III is an auto-
                       mated system that is intended to allow users at the unit-commander
                       level automated access to an existing personnel system at Air Force
                       bases. The Air Force plans to begin deployment at the first of 125 bases
                       in the spring of 1990.

                       Our objectives were to determine if (1) PC-III will be fully developed and
                       adequately tested before being deployed, (2) the hardware chosen for
                       PC-III is the best and most cost-effective option, and (3) projected person-
                       nel reductions, used to justify PC-III, are valid. Appendix I provides
                       detailed information on our objectives, scope, and methodology.

                       To reduce the risk of fielding systems that do not work as intended or
Results in Brief       cost more than necessary, the Department of Defense requires full
                       development and testing and a complete analysis of alternatives before
                       a system is deployed. The Air Force, however, plans to deploy PC-III, esti-
                       mated to cost $550 million, to 125 bases even though the system (1) is
                       only partially developed and tested, (2) has not yet passed significant
                       elements of these tests, (3) is based on a hardware design selected with-
                       out fully analyzing requirements or alternatives, and (4) was justified on
                       the basis of unsupported claims of personnel savings. While the Air
                       Force expects PC-III to improve personnel management functions by auto-
                       mating access to the existing base-level personnel system, these
                       improvements do not justify taking shortcuts and unnecessary risks in
                       deploying the system.

                       Air Force officials acknowledged that they plan to deploy a partially
                       developed system, but believe their development approach has reduced
                       the risk of system failure. However, if the Air Force deploys PC-III with-
                       out sufficiently testing whether the complete system will operate as
                       intended, and without knowing that its hardware is the best choice to

                       Page 1                        GAO/IMTEG90-22   Air Force Personnel Concept III System
             meet performance requirements, it could be deploying a system that will
             not work.

             Air Force officials further stated that they do not have the time to
             reconsider hardware alternatives because personnel reductions attrib-
             uted to PC-III have begun, and the new system is needed to offset these
             reductions. However, this claim is unfounded because an Air Force
             study-done independent of PC-III- found personnel offices to be over-
             staffed and personnel reductions for the next few years will affect only
             this overstaffing. Therefore, the Air Force can delay system deployment
             without adversely affecting personnel services.

             The Air Force has the opportunity at this stage in PC-III’S development to
             reassess the system and ensure that it procures the automated system
             that best meets its needs. Therefore, this report includes recommenda-
             tions to the Secretary of Defense to delay PC-III deployment until the sys-
             tem is fully developed and tested, and the hardware selected is shown to
             be the best to meet requirements.

             The Air Force Military Personnel Center, headquartered at Randolph
Background   Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, manages personnel programs for
             the Air Force. Although its primary responsibility is to ensure that jobs
             are filled with qualified people, the Center also develops, implements,
             and manages personnel services programs such as the officer and
             enlisted personnel evaluation system, awards and decorations program,
             and physical fitness programs, Information on these programs, as well
             as other personnel data, is contained in an automated personnel system
             at each air base.

             Currently, changes to the data in the base-level personnel system as well
             as reports containing information from the system are done only
             through the centralized personnel office at each base. Changes are made
             by the personnel office staff on the basis of information sent to them in
             hard copy from the unit level. Requests for information are filled by the
             personnel office staff who print the requested information from the sys-
             tem and send it to the requester.

             PC-III, which is being developed by Center personnel, will cost about $550
             million to develop, operate, and maintain over its &year economic life.
             Of the $550 million, $200 million will be spent to develop and deploy the
             system. The Air Force began developing PC-III in 1986 and plans to begin
             installation, one base at a time, in the spring of 1990 and finish in 1992.

             Page 2                      GAO/IMTEG90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
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                                            The system will be deployed in increments and the first increment will
                                            include most of the active duty personnel functions. Future increments
                                            will include civilian, reserve, and guard personnel functions.

                                            PC-III will not provide new personnel services; it is intended to automate
                                            the access to and updating of information in the base-level personnel
                                            system, and reduce the number of people needed to run this system. The
                                            Center believes PC-III will allow unit commanders quicker access to infor-
                                            mation from the base-level personnel system that pertains to their own
                                            unit. In addition, instead of typing and submitting hard-copy changes to
                                            the centralized personnel staff, units will enter these changes into PC-III.
                                            pc-III will collect and batch the entered changes and electronically send
                                            them to the centralized personnel computer system where the changes
                                            will be screened before the personnel data base is updated.

                                            Center officials believe that since units will be entering their own
                                            changes, staffing levels at the base personnel offices can be reduced.
                                            The Center does not expect staffing levels in the units to increase
                                            because the staff will not be performing additional work-they      will be
                                            typing reports on a computer terminal instead of a typewriter.

                                            The level of oversight and approval responsibility for defense system
                                            projects depends on several factors, including cost. PC-III, with an esti-
                                            mated acquisition cost of $200 million, was designated as a major sys-
                                            tem’ and was, therefore, the responsibility of the Secretary of Defense
                                            through the Major Automated Information System Review Committee.
                                            The Committee reviews systems at major milestones and must approve
                                            the next stage before development can proceed. On June 29, 1989, citing
                                            the success of PC-III development to date, the Secretary of Defense dele-
                                            gated PC-III approval authority to the Secretary of the Air Force.

                                            developed and tested increases the risk of problems occurring later in
                                            the development cycle, when they are more costly and more difficult to
                                            correct. The Air Force does not know if PC-III will operate as intended
                                            because it has not tested the complete system. Further, PC-III has not

                                            ‘Defense Directive 7920.1 defines major systems as those with estimated acquisition costs over $100
                                            million, those with estimated costs in any 1 year exceeding $25 million, or those designated as special

                                            Page 3                                 GAO/IMTECXO-22       Air Force Personnel   Concept III System

                    passed some of these tests, Additionally, the decision to deploy this sys-
                    tem was made without knowing if it is the best alternative to meet sys-
                    tem requirements.

Tests Have Been     PC-IIIplans originally called for deployment of a completely developed
Copducted on an     and tested system. The system was not to be deployed until all incre-
                    ments were completed and tested, and the entire system had passed all
Incomplete System   tests. These included development testing and evaluation-which     is per-
                    formed at various points during system development to show that each
                    increment works as intended, and operational testing and evaluation-
                    which is performed on the completed system to demonstrate the opera-
                    tional effectiveness and suitability of the system.

                    Air Force regulations for system development, test, and evaluation rein-
                    force the importance of testing a completed system. These regulations
                    state that approving a system for deployment should be supported by
                    fully developed and tested computer programs, and the successful com-
                    pletion of both the development test and evaluation and the operational
                    test and evaluation.

                    Although the Air Force reports it has successfully completed these two
                    major tests on PC-III, neither test was performed on a fully developed
                    system as required. PC-III will consist of four functional areas-active
                    duty, civilian, reserve, and guard- but only segments of the active duty
                    functions were tested. While most guard and reserve functions were
                    developed, they were not included in the tests because the program
                    manager felt these functions were very similar to the active duty func-
                    tions In addition, the civilian functions were not tested because only 2
                    percent of these applications were developed at the time the tests were

                    The program manager acknowledged that all functions were not tested,
                    but believes that 2 years of testing during development demonstrates
                    the full system’s operational characteristics and performance. The
                    remaining functions will be developed as time and resources permit. The
                    program manager further stated that incremental development is a
                    widely accepted strategy for deploying new systems. However, it was
                    not until schedules began to slip that the Center decided to deploy PC-III
                    in increments. The original plans for PC-III called for full development
                    and testing before deployment. Because tests were performed on an
                    incomplete system, the Center has not demonstrated that the complete

                    Page 4                      GAO/IMTJX%O-22   Air Force Personnel Concept III System

                          system will function as required, and could be deploying increments of a
                          system that will not work.


PC-III Has Not Passed     The development test and evaluation of PC-III was only partially com-
System Tests              pleted and, according to test documentation, several major functional
                          requirements were not met. These requirements included acceptable
                          response times when performing updates, multiple record update and
                          inquiry capability, integration of office automation software, and
                          uploading and downloading of user data. In October 1989, the program
                          manager said that these missing functions were “only sophisticated
                          enhancements” to the system. However, performance characteristics
                          such as acceptable response times, and system functions such as
                          updates and inquiries are basic system features, not enhancements.

                          The operational test and evaluation also was not successful and PC-III
                          again failed to meet its response time objectives. In fact, the average
                          time needed to respond to user queries for information took hours, not
                          20 minutes as required in the test. If responses take hours, the system’s
                          intended purpose of providing timely information to unit commanders is
                          not being realized.

                          Of the 18 operational test objectives, PC-III failed 2 and passed 8; the
                          remaining 8 were not tested. Most of the objectives not tested, including
                          system reliability, were not tested because the Center had not developed
                          testing criteria for them. Although the program manager acknowledged
                          that the tests identified deficiencies that will require extensive changes
                          to the PC-III software, he stated that the Center does not plan to make
                          these corrections before it begins deployment. Until PC-III is fully tested,
                          including testing those changes intended to correct identified deficien-
                          cies, deployment could significantly increase the risk that the system
                          may never function as intended.

            ,,ardware     In addition to being only partially developed and tested, the chosen
                          architecture for PC-III may not be the best one to satisfy the Air Force’s
Al tern atives Have Not   needs, pc-III was selected without adequate consideration of alternatives,
Been Ehaluated            although Air Force regulations require that all feasible system alterna-
                          tives be evaluated. Such evaluations are especially critical when the ser-
                          vices are under tight budgets.

                          An important first step in choosing the best system design alternative is
                          identifying the work-load requirements the system must satisfy. An

                          Page 6                       GAO/IMTEG90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System

      analysis of projected work loads helps define the capacity, processing,
      and performance needs of a system. A cost/benefit analysis of each
      alternative that meets these requirements should then be performed.
      These steps help ensure that the best alternative is chosen.

      Although the Center performed work load analyses, the analyses were
      not sufficient to help determine the computer capacity, processing, and
      performance requirements for PC-III. Program officials said they used air
      base populations to determine these requirements-that     is, the greater
      the number of personnel on a base, the greater the size and/or number
      of hardware components proposed. While the number of projected users
      is one factor to be considered in determining work loads, other factors
      such as frequency of use and types of transactions must also be

      Because its work load analysis was flawed, the Center cannot effectively
      size PC-III. For example, the Center does not know the number of proces-
      sors, amount of disk space, and memory capacity needed to deploy PC-III.
      Until the hardware requirement can be better defined, program officials
      will use a “best guess” sizing approach as a starting point, with an
      understanding that resizing at a later date may be required. Center offi-
      cials said they plan to use a computer model that incorporates data com-
      piled during the last 2 years of system development to assist them in
      determining hardware requirements after PC-III is installed at each air
      base. While this approach may help determine the needs of each base, it
      will be too late to help choose the best hardware alternative.

      In addition to not sufficiently identifying work load requirements, the
      Center evaluated only one hardware alternative to the current manual
      system. In July 1987, the Center had identified four hardware
      approaches. However, cost and benefit analyses completed in August
      1987 and April 1989 included only a comparison of the manual system
      to a minicomputer-based alternative, which is described in appendix II.

      Air Force regulations require that a new automated information system
      be the most effective and economical alternative to satisfy mission
      needs. Since the Center did not perform cost/benefit analyses of all
      hardware alternatives, it does not have assurance that the best and
      most economical alternative for meeting PC-III requirements was selected.
      Although we do not advocate any particular hardware architecture, we
      believe that a system based on microcomputers is a feasible alternative.

      Page 6                      GAO/IMTFlC90-22   Air Force Personnel Concept III System

                        A microcomputer-based system, as described in appendix III, may better
                        satisfy mission requirements. According to program documentation,
                        PC-III requirements include (1) a stand-alone operation that enables users
                        to continue processing updates on their workstations when other parts
                        of the system are not operational, (2) the availability to units of basic
                        data on each assigned individual, and (3) the capability of the system to
                        use standard or locally designed programs to produce various reports
                        for the unit commander. Under the Center’s selected minicomputer-
                        based hardware configuration, the first requirement would not be met.
                        However, microcomputers would provide the units with the independent
                        processing capabilities that would satisfy this PC-III mission requirement.

                        According to Air Force officials, they considered the microcomputer-
                        based alternative in 1984 and decided it was beyond state-of-the-art
                        technology and too costly. However, since microcomputer technology
                        and price/performance ratios of commercial microcomputer products
                        have changed substantially since 1984, unless the Center uses current
                        data to analyze and compare feasible alternatives, it cannot be sure that
                        it is deploying the most effective and economical alternative to meet its
                        operational requirements. Additional information comparing estimated
                        costs of the chosen alternative to our suggested alternative is provided
                        in appendix III.

                        The Center used projected personnel savings to justify the cost of devel-
      Projected         oping PC-III and to instill a sense of urgency in PC-III’S deployment. How-
Personnel Savings Are   ever, the projected personnel savings are based on questionable analysis
Questionable            and many of the savings could have occurred with or without the new
                        system. As a result, the Center does not know how many staff can be
                        reduced when PC-III is implemented and its claim that the new system
                        must be deployed as quickly as possible to avoid degradation in person-
                        nel service is unfounded.

                        According to Air Force documentation, the primary justification for the
                        cost of I’C-III is that the system will pay for itself by reducing the number
                        of staff needed to run the existing personnel system. The Center pro-
                        jected that PC-III would enable the base personnel offices to reduce staff
                        by 1,537. The Center arrived at its projection by gathering information
                        at a single base and then extrapolating this information to the entire Air
                        Force, a statistically unreliable approach. The Air Force Audit Agency

                        Page 7                       GAO/IMTEC90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
              reviewed projected PC-III personnel savings and reached the same conclu-
              sion.2 Though it appears that successful implementation of PC-III will
              reduce the number of personnel office staff, the Center currently does
              not know how many positions can be eliminated. Further, until the
              Center develops support for its claims of personnel reductions, it has
              inadequate justification for PC-III.

              In addition, the Center claims that personnel reductions attributed to
              PC-III have begun and, therefore, the new system must be deployed as
              soon as possible in order to avoid a degradation in personnel service.
              However, this claim is unfounded. In fact, a study performed that was
              unrelated to PC-III concluded that personnel offices were overstaffed and
              recommended personnel staff reductions. This study, completed in Sep-
              tember 1985 by the Air Force Management Engineering Agency, recom-
              mended a reduction of 1,214 staff positions in base personnel offices.
              Because of command concerns, the Air Force Chief of Staff for Person-
              nel Resource Management decreased the recommended reductions to
              534. Subsequently, Air Force officials decided to attribute these reduc-
              tions to PC-III.

              In October 1989, the PC-III program manager said that actually only 370
              positions were targeted for elimination on the basis of the study and
              that the rest, or 1,167, are directly attributable to PC-III. Regardless of
              the exact number of positions, the fact remains that the Air Force study
              found that, with or without PC-III, the personnel offices were over-
              staffed. As a result, the reductions in staff scheduled for the first 2 or 3
              years should not greatly affect personnel services and, therefore, PC-III
              deployment is not urgent.

              The Air Force currently plans to deploy a system that is only partially
Conclusions   developed and tested, and is based on poorly defined requirements and
              an incomplete analysis of alternatives. Further, the Air Force has not
              completed software development for PC-III, and deficiencies identified
              during testing that require extensive software changes have not been
              corrected. If PC-III is deployed in the spring of 1990 as planned, the Air
              Force has no assurance that the various components of PC-III will form a
              complete system that will meet requirements or work in an operational

              ‘Validation Test of Personnel Concepts III (PC-III), Air Force Audit Agency (January 11, 1989).

              Page 8                                GAO/IMTEG90-22       Air Force Personnel Concept III System

                   Additionally, the Center has not demonstrated that the current system
                   design is the best alternative to meet system requirements. The Center
                   has not completed a work load analysis to determine system hardware
                   capacity, processing, and performance requirements, nor have they com-
                   pleted a cost and benefit analysis of alternatives. Program officials
                   claim that, since personnel reductions have already begun, a delay in
                   deploying PGIII would degrade personnel services. However, this claim is
                   unfounded because personnel reductions were needed to correct an
                   overstaffing problem and would have occurred regardless of PC-III.
                   Therefore, PC-III deployment is not urgent and the Air Force has time to
                   determine requirements and take another look at possible alternatives.
                   Before the Air Force commits to a system estimated to cost $550 million,
                   it needs to be sure the chosen alternative is the best one.

                   Since the Air Force has no assurance that PC-III as currently defined will
Recbommendations   best meet Air Force needs, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense
                   not approve the purchase and installation of computer hardware to
                   deploy PC-III until the Secretary of the Air Force ensures that

                   a comprehensive evaluation of projected benefits (i.e., personnel reduc-
                   tions) is completed that justifies the system;
                   potential work loads are analyzed to determine the needed capacity,
                   processing, and performance requirements for PC-III;
                   hardware alternatives are evaluated and the best and most cost-effec-
                   tive one is selected; and
                   an operational test and evaluation of the complete PC-III system is suc-
                   cessfully completed to determine its operational effectiveness and

                   In addition, to ensure that the Air Force satisfactorily resolves the
                   above issues before further approval is given, we recommend that the
                   Secretary of Defense reinstate Major Automated Information System
                   Review Committee oversight of PC-III.

                   In accordance with your office’s wishes, we did not obtain official
                   agency comments on this report. We did, however, discuss its contents
                   with Air Force and Department of Defense officials and have included
                   their comments where appropriate. We conducted our review between
                   February and November 1989 in accordance with generally accepted
                   government auditing standards.

                   Page 9                      GAO/IMTEC%O-22   Air Force Personnel Concept III System

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen, Senate Committees
on Appropriations and Government Operations; House Committee on
Government Operations; the Director, Office of Management and
Budget; and the Secretaries of Defense and the Air Force. We will also
make copies available to others on request. This work was performed
under the direction of Samuel W. Bowlin, Director, Defense and Security
Information Systems, who can be reached at (202) 275-4649. Other
major contributors are listed in appendix IV.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph V. Carlone
Assistant Comptroller General

Page 10                    GAO/IMTEG!bO-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
Page 11   GAO/IMTEGW-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System

~    -~
Aljpendix I
Objectives, Scope, and
Appendix II                                                                                                 16
Technical Information
on Hardware Selected
for Personnel Concept
AQpendix III
A iPotential Hardware
Alternative to
Personnel Concept III
Appendix IV
Major Contributors to
This Report
Table                    Table 111.1:Cost Comparison of PC-III Hardware

Figures                  Figure II. 1: Chosen Minicomputer-Based Hardware                                    17
                         Figure III. 1: Proposed Microcomputer-Based Hardware                                19


                         ADP       automated data processing
                         GAO       General Accounting Office
                         IMTEC     Information Management and Technology Division
                         PC-III    Personnel Concept III

                         Page 12                    GAO/lWl’XG90-22   Ah Force Personnel   Concept   III System

    Page 13   GAO/IMTEC90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
Appendix I

Oljjectives,Scope,and Methodology

              In September 1989 the office of the Chairman, Subcommittee on
              Defense, House Committee on Appropriations, asked us to review PGIII.
              Our objectives were to determine if (1) PC-III will be fully developed and
              adequately tested before being deployed, (2) the chosen hardware archi-
              tecture for PC-III is the best and most cost-effective, and (3) projected
              personnel reductions, used by the Air Force Military Personnel Center to
              justify PC-III, are valid.

              To determine whether the PGIII application software would be suffi-
              ciently developed and tested before implementation, we (1) reviewed the
              program status to evaluate the progress of application development;
              (2) analyzed design reviews, test reports, and analyses performed by the
              Air Force Audit Agency; and (3) observed and interviewed Air Force
              personnel using a PC-III prototype system at Moody Air Force Base,
              Georgia. We also discussed the completeness of this testing and the sys-
              tem’s overall readiness for implementation with officials from the Air
              Force Communications Command responsible for conducting the sys-
              tem’s operational test and evaluation.

              To evaluate the computer hardware that the Center has chosen for PC-III,
              we reviewed system acquisition and architecture plans, and program
              documentation to identify established hardware capacity, processing,
              performance requirements, and cost/benefit analyses of alternative con-
              figurations. Also, we interviewed officials responsible for computer
              hardware selection and configuration. To identify a potential hardware
              alternative, we evaluated performance characteristics of the chosen con-
              figuration, and analyzed the Center’s hardware contract.

              We compared estimated costs for components of both the minicomputer-
              based and microcomputer-based hardware alternatives to determine
              which was potentially less costly. In making this comparison, we
              selected three bases undergoing first-year installation of the system to
              illustrate potential savings of the microcomputer-based architecture.
              The three bases selected-Hickam Air Force Base, Andrews Air Force
              Base, and the Air Force Academy-were       chosen because of the number
              of computers (small, medium, and large as defined by the Air Force)
              required to implement PC-III at these bases. Cost estimates for computers
              were taken from the Standard Multi-User Small Computer Requirements
              Contract. Estimated microcomputer costs were taken from the Center’s
              program documentation supplied at the time of our review.

              Page 14                     GAO/JMTEG90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

To determine whether the estimations of personnel reductions were
valid, we analyzed studies made by the Air Force Manpower and Person-
nel Management Engineering Team prior to and during the development
test and evaluation conducted by the Center from October 1987 through
October 1988. In addition, we evaluated the Air Force Audit Agency’s
assessment of this validation test and discussed with Audit Agency offi-
cials the scope and results of their work.

We conducted our work from February 1989 through November 1989 at
the Air Force Military Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base,
Texas; the Consolidated Base Personnel Office at Moody Air Force Base,
Georgia; and the Air Force Communications Command at Wright-Patter-
son Air Force Base, Ohio, We did not obtain official agency comments on
this report. However, we discussed the contents of the report with Air
Force officials, and their comments have been incorporated where

We did not independently verify cost and status information, or the
results of independent assessments made of the PC-III program.

Page 16                              GAO/IMTEC%O-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
Appendix II

T6chnicailhformation on Hardware Selectedfor

                  In a June 1989 System Decision Paper presented to the Department of
                  Defense’s Major Automated Information System Review Committee, the
                  Air Force Center described the minicomputer-based hardware architec-
                  ture selected for PC-III. This architecture will be a distributed system
                  with the following attributes:

              l A “functional gateway” minicomputer in the base personnel office will
                serve as a communications processor. It will provide access to the “core”
                minicomputer containing the base-level personnel system, and through
                the “core” minicomputer, using the Defense Data Network, will provide
                access to the Air Force headquarters Military Personnel Center system.
              . A “core” minicomputer will contain the PC-III master personnel data base
                for the installation, It will be one or more large minicomputer systems
                located in the base personnel office.
              . “Endpoint” minicomputers will be located in the offices of units and
                base tenants. These minicomputers will contain that portion of the cen-
                tralized applications software and personnel data needed by individual
                units. Endpoint minicomputers will be connected to the functional gate-
                way and will not have the capability of sharing information directly
                with each other.
              l Terminals, located in unit offices, will be connected to the “endpoint”
                minicomputers. These terminals will provide access to PC-III capabilities
                maintained on the endpoint computers. Although terminals provided
                under the PC-III program will be dumb terminals,’ microcomputers
                existing in the units will be used if they can emulate the PC-III terminal.

                  With the exception of the dumb terminals at the unit level, all compo-
                  nents are American Telegraph and Telephone 3B2/600G minicomputer
                  systems, purchased from the Air Force Standard Multi-User Small Com-
                  puter Requirements Contract.

                  ‘Dumb terminals are terminals that have no processing capability (i.e., intelligence) of their own, but
                  can only send and receive or display data from a computer.

                  Page 16                                GAO/IMTEG90-22        Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
                                            APW-      II
                                            Technicd Information  on Hardware   Selected
                                            for Personnel Concept III

Figurei 11.1:Chosen Minicomputer-Based   Hardware Alternative

                                                                            Base Level Personnel
                                                                            Computer System

                            Functional Gateway                                                              Core Mini-
                                 Mini-Computer                                                              Computer


                                            Page 17                             GAO/IMTEG90-22   Air Force Personnel Concept IJI System
Appendix III

Ai PotentialHardware Ahrnative to Personnel

                   In a July 1987 System Decision Paper presented to the Department of
                   Defense’s Major Automated Information System Review Committee, the
                   Air Force Center described a microcomputer-based hardware architec-
                   ture for PC-III. Although we do not advocate any particular hardware
                   architecture, we believe that a microcomputer-based configuration has
                   the potential to effectively and economically meet PC-III operational
                   requirements. This distributive system design could consist of the fol-
                   lowing components:

               .   A “functional gateway” minicomputer in the base personnel office could
                   serve as a communications processor. It would provide access to the
                   “core” minicomputer containing the base level personnel system, and
                   through the “core” minicomputer, using the Defense Data Network,
                   would provide access to the Air Force headquarters Military Personnel
                   Center system.
                   A “core” minicomputer could contain the PC-III master personnel data
                   base for the installation, It would be one or more large minicomputer
                   systems located in the base personnel office.
                   “Endpoint” microcomputers could be located at the unit level. These
                   microcomputers would provide the capabilities to accomplish routine
                   personnel actions as well as stand-alone operations. Each unit would be
                   able to use its microcomputer with standard or locally developed appli-
                   cations. Rather than connecting dumb terminals to an “endpoint” mini-
                   computer, these microcomputers could be interconnected to each other
                   and to the “functional gateway” via a local area network. Where possi-
                   ble, PC-III would use existing microcomputers.

                   Page 18                    GAO/lMTEC90-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
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                    r o :p o s e M
                                 d i c ro c o m p u te r-Ba sHe ad rd w a reA l te rn a ti v e
     --. .( .._ .---..---

                                                                                                                B a s eL e v e P
                                                                                                                               l e rs o n n e l
                                                                                                                C o m p u te Sr y s te m

                                           F”nctionB,           Gateway
                                                                                                                                                                   C o re M i n i -
                                                        M i n i -C o m p u te r                                                                                    C o m p u te r

                                                                                                                                                                          T e rm i n a l s

                                                                              l re a N e tw o rk s

                                                             P a g e1 9                                             G A O /IM T E C 9 O -2 2 A i r F o rc e P e rs o n n e Cl o n c e p tIII S y s te m
                                        Appendix III
                                        A Potential Hardware Alternative     to
                                        Personnel Concept IU

                                        Neither the August 1987 nor the April 1989 cost and benefit analyses
                                        considered a microcomputer-based alternative. We did not perform an
                                        in-depth cost comparison of the alternatives. However, using estimates
                                        provided by the Center, we did make a preliminary analysis of the costs
                                        of hardware differences in these alternatives.

Table 111.1:Cost Comparison of PC-III
Hardware Alternatives                                                         Estimateda total costs for hardware components
                                        Hardware component                      Mini-based          Micro-based         Difference
                                        core                                         $3,821,610             $3,821,610                     $0
                                        Gateway                                       3,871,548              3,871,548                         0
                                            Minicomputer                             18,131,348                          0        18,131,348
                                           Microcomputer                                          0          6,892,500            (6,892,500)
                                        ---_____                                      3,313,250              2,890,OOO +             423,250
                                        Total                                      $29.137.756            $17.475.656           $11,662,096
                                        %osts were estimated by extrapolating the average total cost at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii;
                                        Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland; and the Air Force Academy, Colorado; to all Air Force bases.

                                        This analysis does not include software development costs or software
                                        and hardware maintenance costs of either alternative. Also, while the
                                        minicomputer-based alternative requires about $49 million in communi-
                                        cations equipment, the Center estimated that a local area network for
                                        the microcomputer alternative would cost about $40 million. The Air
                                        Force is currently developing a requirements contract to install local
                                        area networks at all bases. If networks are installed at bases under this
                                        standard contract, then networks would be available for PC-IIIto use.
                                        Therefore, the cost of installing a network would not be directly attrib-
                                        utable to PC-III.

                                        Additionally, the microcomputer alternative cost estimate may be signif-
                                        icantly overstated because, from 1986 through 1988, over 620,000
                                        microcomputers were purchased from an Air Force standard require-
                                        ments contract. Until an inventory of available microcomputers at air
                                        bases is completed, and a decision made on their reallocation, the cost of
                                        additional microcomputers cannot be determined with any accuracy.

                                        In addition to costing less than the minicomputer system, a microcom-
                                        puter system could provide other benefits. For instance, the microcom-
                                        puters could be put to countless other uses when not being used for
                                        PC-III. The dumb terminals proposed for the Center’s minicomputer-based
                                        system will be used only for PC-III.

                                        Page 20                                   GAO/IMTEGBO-22      Air Force Personnel Concept III System

Apper)dix IV

Major Contributors to This Report

                                      John B. Stephenson, Assistant Director
Inf& m ation                          Sanford F. Reigle, Evaluator-in-Charge
Madagement and                        Leonard J. Latham , Technical Adviser
                                      Suzanne M . Burns, Evaluator
Technology Division,
W tihington, D.C.
                                      Calvin E. Phillips, Regional Assignment Manager
Da11as         Re@ona1   Office       Mary Ann Costello Evaluator
                                      Donald R. McCuistion, Evaluator

(610372)                              Page 21                     GAO/IMTEMO-22   Air Force Personnel   Concept III System
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