Information Resources: Problems Persist in Justice's ADP Management and Operations

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-11-06.

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

                  United   States   General   Accounting   Office
                  Report to the Chairman, Committee on
GAO               the Jud-iciairy, House of Representatives

November   1990
                  Problems Persist in
                  Justice’s ADP
                  Management and
                  Operations          .‘:
                   United States
                   General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   Information    Management         and
                   Technology     Division


                   November 6,199O

                   The Honorable Jack Brooks
                   Chairman, Committee on the
                   House of Representatives

                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                   In response to your January 26, 1990, request, this report discusses the
                   Department of Justice’s automated data processing (ADP) management
                   and operations. Specifically, you asked us if Justice has adequately
                   responded to our previous recommendations on ADP management and
                   case management. You also asked for an assessment of Justice’s tech-
                   nical and management capabilities in the ADP area including whether (1)
                   Justice’s central ADP management office has sufficient authority and
                   resources to fulfill its responsibilities under two public laws, P.L. 89-306
                   and P.L. 96-511;’ (2) Justice’s central information resources manage-
                   ment (IRM) office is structured in accordance with P.L. 96-511; and (3)
                   Justice has sufficient resources to properly conduct large-scale ADP and
                   telecommunications acquisitions. Additional information on our objec-
                   tives, scope, and methodology is contained in appendix I.

                   Justice has not adequately responded to our past recommendation to
Results in Brief   develop uniform, accurate, and complete case management information.
                   Of broader concern, however, are management problems that can affect
                   the overall management of Justice’s information technology resources.
                   In this regard, Justice has not adequately responded to our past recom-
                   mendation to develop an IRM plan. Although Justice’s central IRM office
                   is structured in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the
                   senior IRM official does not have clear authority to require component
                   organizations to implement Departmental IRM decisions. Moreover, Jus-
                   tice believes it has neither sufficient staff to conduct large-scale ADP
                   acquisitions nor the overall technical and managerial capabilities to
                   ensure that it is spending its IRM funds in the most efficient and effective
                   manner. Justice’s inability to develop a case management system and an
                   IRM plan, the lack of clearly defined authority of the senior IRM official to
                   carry out his responsibilities, and the questionable level of technical and

                   ‘P.L. 89-306 is commonly referred to as the Brooks Act, and P.L. 96-611 as the Paperwork Reduction
                   Act of 1980.

                   Page 1                         GAO/‘lMTJ%S1-4 Problems Persist in Justioe’s ADP Management
Justice’s Litigative        After a number of false starts and over a decade of effort, Justice still
                            does not have a system that can accurately provide the total number of
CaseloadInformation Still   cases being litigated and the total number of staff in the litigating orga-
Unreliable and Incomplete   nizations working on them.2 Efforts to develop such a system have been
                            unsuccessful because (1) each litigating organization was allowed to
                            develop a separate system to satisfy its own management needs, and (2)
                            data submissions from the litigating organizations that fed the depart-
                            mental system were incomplete and unreliable.

                            Since 1977, Justice has attempted to implement a departmentwide litiga-
                            tive case management system that would provide the Congress and the
                            Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with summary information on
                            its litigative caseload. The system was also to provide top Justice execu-
                            tives with work load information to make resource allocation and budg-
                            etary decisions. In 1979, we pointed out that the Congress and OMB had
                            severe difficulties evaluating Justice’s requests for additional resources
                            because Justice lacked information on litigative caseloads.3 We also
                            reported that as a result, the Congress was requiring Justice to develop
                            a comprehensive plan for managing its litigative caseloads. In response
                            to the Congress, Justice developed a plan in April 1980 to implement a
                            case management system. This system became operational in 1981.

                            In 1983, we reported that this system did not meet the information
                            needs of either Justice or the Congress because it contained limited
                            information on only a portion of Justice’s overall work load, and that
                            information was neither complete nor accurate.4 Therefore, we recom-
                            mended that the Attorney General develop a rigorous data management
                            program to achieve uniform, accurate, and complete case management
                            information. In response to our 1983 report, Justice assembled a group
                            to develop a prototype, departmentwide case management system. This
                            prototype was intended to extract common, case-related data from the
                            case management systems of various divisions within Justice. By 1986
                            Justice had developed a prototype and was considering whether to
                            implement it departmentwide.

                            2Justice’s litigating organizations include six divisions-Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Criminal, Lands
                            and Natural Resources, Tax, and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

                            3Lkpartment of Justice Making Efforts to Improve Litigative Management Information Systems
                            (~-79-80,         Sept. 4,1979).                                            .

                            ‘%epartment of Justice Case Management Information System Does Not Meet Departmental or Con-
                            gressional Needs (GAO/GGD-83-50, Mar 26,19&3).

                            Page 3                           GAO/IMTEG914        Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Management

                        the feasibility of developing a single case management system by
                        meeting with representatives of the litigating divisions.

IRM Plan Still Needed   In a 1986 report, we recommended that the Attorney General develop a
                        plan for managing Justice’s information resources6 In our view, without
                        such a plan Justice could not adequately assess whether the ADP and
                        telecommunications initiatives of its components helped them achieve
                        departmental objectives. In response to our 1986 report, Justice devel-
                        oped a strategic, automated information systems plan. Justice first com-
                        pleted this plan in September 1986, and it was signed by the Attorney
                        General in January 1987. Justice updated the plan in 1989.

                        Although the plan identifies information technology issues that cut
                        across Justice, the plan is not clear on how Justice will use its informa-
                        tion resources to accomplish its mission. As a result, it does not fully
                        address how Justice will use information resources to accomplish
                        departmental goals and objectives, as we recommended in 1986.

                        OMB  Circular A-130 requires that agencies establish a planning process
                        that meets program and mission needs. In addition, Justice’s own meth-
                        odology recommends that components identify their missions in their
                        strategic plans, since all subsequent planning for Justice is built on com-
                        ponents’ missions.

                        Justice expects to develop an IRM plan, by July 1991, which will replace
                        its current strategic plan.

                        The Paperwork Reduction Act requires senior IRM officials to report
Central IRM Office      directly to the agency head. The senior IRM official at Justice, however,
Structured in           reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General
Accordance With the     rather than directly to the Attorney General. Although we are not aware
                        of a specific delegation of this responsibility from the Attorney General
Paperwork Reduction     to the Deputy Attorney General, by statute, the Attorney General has
Act                     broad authority to delegate his functions to any other Justice official.6
                        Furthermore, under federal regulations the Deputy Attorney General is
                        authorized to exercise the Attorney General’s responsibilities unless
                        such responsibilities are required by law to be exercised personally by

                        sJustice Department: Improved Management ProcessesWould Enhance Justice’s Operations (GAO/
                             -86 _12, Mar. 14,1986).

                        ‘j28 USC. 8610.

                         Page 6                      GAO/ENTEG914 Problems Persist in .lustice’s ADP Management

                             not certain that this lack of clear authority alone prevented the senior
                             IRM official from developing and implementing a uniform case num-
                             bering system as discussed earlier in this report, we noted that he asked
                             the Attorney General for “his assistance” in obtaining “cooperation”
                             among all the litigating components in developing such a system. Also,
                             as previously discussed, the manager of this project expressed concern
                             over the authority of the senior IRM official to require the use of a uni-
                             form case numbering system.

                             Justice believes it has neither sufficient staff to conduct large-scale ADP
Justice Believes Its         acquisitions nor the overall technical and managerial capabilities to
IRM Resources,and            ensure that it is spending its IRM funds in the most efficient and effective
                             manner. As a result, Justice claims it cannot adequately monitor its ADP
Technical and                contracts and properly conduct its oversight responsibilities.
Capabilities Are

Justice Says Its Resources   Justice says it has limited resources at the department and component
                             level to administer its growing ADP budget. From 1991 through 1995,
to Monitor Contracts Are     Justice plans to spend about $2.7 billion on 83 initiatives involving ADP
Limited                      hardware, software, and related services (see app. II). The senior IRM
                             official has expressed concern that Justice may face problems managing
                             its initiatives because of its lack of staff. In the Justice Management
                             Division’s tactical plan for 1989-1991, for example, the senior IRM offi-
                             cial noted that there is a limited number of Justice Management Division
                             staff with the technical and project managerial talent to conduct large
                             systems design, acquisition, and implementation for five projects with
                             total cost estimates exceeding $29 million over that 3-year period.

                             Similarly, a report by the Justice Management Division’s Systems Policy
                             Staff issued in April 1989, identified an increased reliance on contrac-
                             tors by Justice components to meet ADP operational and mission require-
                             ments.n The report questioned whether Justice has adequate personnel
                             to manage information technology contracts so they serve Justice’s best

                              “Trends in Information Technology Expenditures for In-Howe Personnel and Commercial Services
                              (1982.1938), Apr. 11, 1989.

                              Page 7                       GAO/IMTEG914      Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Manngement

                      Because Justice (1) has not adequately responded to our past recommen-
Conclusions and       dations that were designed to improve its ADP management and opera-
Recommendations       tions, and (2) says it lacks sufficient staff with the technical and
                      managerial capabilities to properly conduct large-scale ADP and telecom-
                      munications acquisitions, we believe it is highly unlikely that the
                      Attorney General or Justice’s senior IRM official can effectively and effi-
                      ciently manage information resources at Justice.

                      To strengthen the management of information resources within the
                      Department of Justice, we recommend that the Attorney General

                  l   require that Justice’s case management systems have uniform, accurate,
                      and complete information on cases and require that Justice develop an
                  l clarify the senior IRM official’s authority in implementing departmental
                    IRM decisions; and
                  . augment, where needed, Justice’s central IRM office capabilities in the
                    technical and management areas, ADP contract management, and

                      We discussed the information contained in this report with Justice offi-
                      cials, and have incorporated their comments where appropriate. As
                      requested by your office, we did not seek written agency comments.

                      As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents
                      of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from
                      the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Attorney
                      General, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and other
                      interested parties. This report was prepared under the direction of
                      Howard G. Rhile, Director, General Government Information Systems,
                      who can be reached at (202) 275-3455. Other major contributors to this
                      report are listed in appendix III.

                      Sincerely yours,

                      Ralph V. Carlone
                      Assistant Comptroller General

Page 11   GAO/IMTEG914   Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Management
Appendix II

Justice’s Planned Acquisitions of ADP
Hardware, Software, and ServicesThrough
Fiscal Year 1995

Dollars rn mrllrons
Oraanization                                    Initiatives     1991            1992    1993        1994        1995           Total
Department of Justice Total                               83    $449            $593    $624        $542        $526         $2,734
  Antitrust Drwsron                                       3        $4             $4       $5          $5          $5           $23
  Bureau of Prisons                                       3         5              5        5           5           5            25
  CIVII Drvisron                                          7        49             49       50          62          47           257
  CIVII Rrghk Drvwon                                      1         3              2        2           2           1             10
  Criminal DIVISION                                       2         3              3        3           4           4             17
  Drug Enforcement Agency                                 6        48             24       17          16          15            120
  Exe&e      Offrce for Immigration Rewew                 1         5              5        5
                                                                                            ___-        5           5             25
  Executrve Offrce of theUnIted States
    Attorneys                                             3        14             12       14          14          14             68
  Executive Office of Unrted States
    Trustees                                              1          2             3        3           3           3             14
  Federal Bureau of lnvestioation                         9       125
                                                               ___~~       --    293      314         227         223          1.182
  Federal Prrson Industries                               4          6             9        7           7           7             36
  General Leglslattve Actlwtles                           1        18              3        2           1           1             25
  lmmrgratron and Naturalrzation Serwce                  23        65             76       79          79          79            370
  Justice Management Division                             8        69             73       86          78          81            307
  Lands and Natural Resources Drvwon                      3        22             22       23          24          24            115
  Tax Dwslon                                               2        4              5        5           6           a             20
  United States Marshal Service                            6        7-             5        4           4           4             24

                                            Page 13                      GAO/IMTEC914   Problema Persist in Justice’s ADP Management
                                       ,- ,- ,- -   -   ..- .-   ,-.

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Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report

                       Stephen A. Schwartz, Assistant Director
Information            Anthony N. Salvemini, Evaluator-in-Charge
Management and         Christopher E. Hess, Computer Scientist
                       M. Scott Laemmle, Computer Scientist
Technology Division,
Washington, D.C.

                       Richard Seldin, Senior Attorney
Office of General

 @10838)               Page 14                GAO/IMTEG914   Problems Persist in Jwtice’s ADP Management
Appendix I

Objectives,Scope,and Methodology

              On January 26, 1990, the Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary,
              requested that we assess the Department of Justice’s management of its
              information resources. Specifically, our objectives were to determine if
              Justice has adequately responded to our previous recommendations on
              ADP management and case management. The Chairman also requested
              an assessment of Justice’s technical and management capabilities in the
              ADP area, including determining whether (1) Justice’s central ADP man-
              agement office has sufficient authority and resources to fulfill its
              responsibilities under two public laws, P.L. 89-306 and P.L. 96-511; (2)
              Justice’s central information resources management (IRM) office is struc-
              tured in accordance with P.L. 96-511; and (3) Justice has sufficient
               resources to properly conduct large-scale ADP and telecommunications

              To accomplish our objectives, we focused on Justice’s departmental
              management of information resources. We reviewed Justice’s primary
              method for planning and managing information resources, the Auto-
              mated Information Systems process. We met with the designated senior
              official for IRM at Justice to discuss Justice’s response to our previous
              recommendations, and the authority of the senior official to manage
              information resources.

              To understand Justice’s approach to IRM, we met with the Director of the
              Systems Policy Staff, which establishes policy and coordinates informa-
              tion resources planning at Justice. In addition, we interviewed top IRM
              officials at Justice component organizations to assess the coordination
              and oversight exercised over individual components by the central IRM
              office. We also obtained and analyzed documents maintained by the Sys-
              tems Policy Staff on the control and oversight process, to assess this
              office’s planning and oversight capabilities.

               We conducted our review from February to September 1990 at the Jus-
               tice Management Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the
               Immigration and Naturalization Service; the Civil Division; the Execu-
               tive Office of U.S. Attorneys; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

               As requested by your office, we did not seek written agency comments
               on this report, but discussed its contents with Justice officials and
               included their comments where appropriate. We performed our work in
               accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

               Page 12                GAO/lMTEG91-4 Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Management

Letter                                                                                                1

Appendix I                                                                                          12
Objectives, Scope,and
Appendix II                                                                                         13
Justice’s Planned
Acquisitions of ADP
Hardware, Software,
and Services Through
Fiscal Year 1995
Appendix III                                                                                        14
Major Contributors to
This Report


                        ADP       automated data processing
                        GAO       General Accounting Office
                        IMTEC     Information Management and Technology Division
                        IRM       information resources management
                        OMB       Office of Management and Budget

                        Page 10               GAO/JMTEG914 problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Manaeement

                             interests. The senior IRM official expressed similar concerns in a Feb-
                             ruary 15, 1990, memo to all Justice components, in which he stated Jus-
                             tice may face problems managing its information technology contracts
                             effectively. In addition, the Associate Commissioner for the Immigration
                             and Naturalization Service supported this point by saying that she did
                             not have enough qualified personnel to manage contracts.

Justice’s Central IRM        Justice’s central IRM office says limited resources have prevented it from
                             fulfilling its oversight responsibilities. According to an April 1990 Jus-
Office Says It Has Limited   tice planning document titled “Justification for Program and Perform-
Resourcesand Cannot          ance,” a major objective of the central IRM office is to “certify that
Fulfill Its Oversight        Department components effectively and efficiently manage information
Responsibilities             resources.” Although the central IRM office reviews information systems
                             plans and acquisition lists from Justice component organizations, central
                             IRM officials said staff shortages at that office have prohibited indepen-
                             dent audit and evaluation of computer systems. For example, our July
                              1990 report on computer security pointed out that staff shortages
                             resulted in the lack of oversight by the central IRM office, which contrib-
                             uted to many disturbing security weaknesses in Justice’s sensitive com-
                             puter systems’2 Similarly, in our September 1990 report on information
                             management at the Department’s Immigration and Naturalization Ser-
                             vice, we reported that the Service risks admitting illegal aliens and
                             granting benefits to ineligible aliens, and has millions of dollars in uncol-
                             lectible debts because of unreliable ADP systems.13According to Justice,
                             limited resources prevented it from conducting comprehensive oversight
                             of the Service’s information management program.

                             In addition, in July 1988, the Justice Management Division’s internal
                             audit staff found that the oversight process conducted by Justice’s cen-
                             tral IRM office did not include post-implementation reviewsI Post-
                             implementation reviews verify that information systems are operated in
                             accordance with Justice policy, and are performing as expected.
                             According to Justice officials, there are still not enough resources to con-
                             duct this oversight function.

                              ‘2Justice Automation: Tighter Computer Security Needed (GAO/IMTEC90-69, July 30,199O).

                              %formation Management: Imnngration and lvaturalization Service Lacks Ready Access to Essential
                             -Data (GAO/IMm90-75,   Sept. 27, 1990).

                              14Audit Report on the Management of Department of Justice Microcomputer Policy, July 1988.

                              Page 8                        GAO/UWEG914       Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Management
                      the Attorney General7 Since the Paperwork Reduction Act does not
                      require the Attorney General to personally receive reports from the
                      senior IRM official, we think this responsibility can properly be per-
                      formed by the Deputy Attorney General. Therefore, in our view, Jus-
                      tice’s central IRM office is structured in accordance with the Paperwork
                      Reduction Act.

                      Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, federal agencies are assigned
Senior IRM Official   various information management responsibilities. These responsibilities
DoesNot ‘Have Clear   include implementing applicable governmentwide and agency informa-
Authority             tion policies, principles, standards, and guidelines. By departmental
                      order, these functions have been assigned to the Justice Department’s
                      senior IRM official, the Assistant Attorney General for Administration.8

                      Under federal regulations, Justice’s senior IRM official also has broad
                      responsibilities that include IRM functions such as (1) formulating
                      department policies, standards, and procedures for information systems;
                      and (2) providing the final review and approval of systems, procedures,
                      and standards for the use of data elements and codes.9

                      Although the senior IRM official has been given these broad responsibili-
                      ties, neither Justice’s departmental orders nor regulations give the
                      senior official clear authority to direct component organizations to
                      implement departmental IRM decisions. In this regard, we recommended
                      in our 1986 report that the senior IRM official should clearly possess the
                      authority to direct component actions to ensure successful depart-
                      mentwide planning and implementation. 10In response to this report, Jus-
                      tice said that the senior IRM official has tacit and regulatory authority to
                      accomplish this task. Notwithstanding Justice’s position on our 1986
                      recommendation, we still believe that Justice needs to clarify the senior
                      IRM official’s authority in implementing departmental IRM decisions.

                      This lack of clear authority may have impeded the senior IRM official
                      from fully carrying out his assigned responsibilities. In our judgement
                      clear authority is important because of the varying degrees of indepen-
                      dence of Justice’s component organizations. For example, while we are

                      728 C.F.R. B 0.16.

                      department of Justice Order 2880.1, “Information ResourcesManagement Program,” June 26,1DB7.

                      ‘28 C.F.R. I0.75.
                      ‘(‘GAO/GGD-36-12, Mar. 14.1986.

                      Page 6                       GAO/IMTEG91-4 Problems Persist in Justice’s ADP Management

Although our 1983 report pointed out that Justice needed to address
fundamental data-integrity problems with its components’ case manage-
ment systems, Justice, without doing so, adopted the prototype as a
departmentwide system. It became operational in 1986. Now, according
to the senior IRM official, no one in Justice uses the system because of
continuing data-integrity problems. According to the senior official, the
main problem with the current system is the lack of a uniform case num-
bering system among the litigating divisions and U.S. Attorneys Offices.
This problem results in multiple counting of cases, which are shared or
transferred among the litigating divisions and U.S. Attorneys Offices. As
a result, the departmentwide case management system cannot provide
Justice, the Congress, or OMB with accurate caseload information.

In June 1989, Justice convened a new group to develop a uniform case
numbering system and to discuss the possibility of having a standard
case management system for all litigating organizations. However, the
group met only once in 1989, and neither objective was fulfilled. The
group’s chairperson, who is also the project manager for the depart-
mental case management system, stated that the senior IRM official could
not dictate mission-related policy to the litigating organizations, and
therefore could not dictate a uniform case numbering system. The same
Justice official told us that to resolve the problems of case management,
the senior IRM official would need the support of the Attorney General.

On May 21, 1990, we brought the lack of progress in developing a
departmentwide case management system to the attention of Justice’s
senior IRM official As a result, the senior IRM official wrote to the
Attorney General on June 14, 1990, pointing out that Justice still does
not have a system capable of providing accurate, aggregate caseload
information. To solve this problem, the senior IRM official recommended
to the Attorney General that Justice (1) conduct a consolidated require-
ments analysis of its case management information needs, and (2)
explore the feasibility of developing a single case management system
for all of its litigating organizations. The senior IRM official pointed out
that these solutions will require cooperation from all of the litigating
organizations and, therefore, asked the Attorney General for his sup-
port. The senior IRM official stated that he believes this effort will enable
Justice to finally accomplish its goal of developing and implementing a
single comprehensive case management system. On July 11,1990, the
Attorney General approved the senior IRM official’s recommendations.
On August 24, 1990, Justice entered into an agreement with the General
Service Administration’s Federal Systems Integration and Management
Center to perform a consolidated requirements analysis, and is exploring

 Page 4                 GAO0MTEG91-4 Problems Pen&t in Justice’s ADP Management
                   managerial resources raise serious doubts as to Justice’s ability to effec-
                   tively manage its information technology resources.

                   Justice must take decisive steps to strengthen the management of its
                   information technology resources. This report contains recommenda-
                   tions to the Attorney General to ensure that (1) our past recommenda-
                   tions are successfully addressed, (2) the senior IRM official has clear
                   authority to implement Justice-wide information resources management
                   decisions, and (3) Justice evaluates its central IRM office resource needs
                   regarding technical and management capabilities, ADP contract manage-
                   ment, and oversight, and augment them if they are inadequate.

                   Justice has spent approximately $2.5 billion for information technology
Background         since fiscal year 1985. For fiscal year 1990, Justice’s information tech-
                   nology budget is almost $579 million. Justice has estimated obligations
                   of over $621 million for fiscal year 1991 for ADP and telecommunications
                   technology. This amount represents approximately 10 percent of its
                   total fiscal year 1991 budget request.

                   The Assistant Attorney General for Administration is in charge of the
                   Justice Management Division, and is Justice’s designated senior IRM offi-
                   cial. The. management division is assigned the responsibility of devel-
                   oping and administering IRM policy. These responsibilities include
                   annually reviewing plans submitted by Justice organizations in comunc-
                   tion with Justice’s budget process, and overseeing the use and perform-
                   ance of information systems in accordance with Justice objectives,
                   plans, policies, and procedures. The management division also reviews
                   and approves the acquisition of ADP systems.

                   Since 1979 we have issued a number of reports addressing Justice’s ADP
Justice Has Not    management and operations. Two of these reports contained recommen-
Adequately         dations to the Attorney General to (1) improve Justice’s ability to pro-
Respondedto Past   vide complete and reliable litigative caseload information, and (2)
                   develop and implement an IRM plan. Justice has not fully responded to
GAO                these recommendations. Therefore, most of the problems which
Recommendations    prompted these recommendations continue today.

                   Pa.@22                  GAO/EUTEGSl-d Probkma Persist in Justice’s ADP Mana@ment