Defense Computers

U.S. Transportation Command's Management of Y2K Operational Testing Gao ID: AIMD-00-21 November 15, 1999

Complete and thorough Year 2000 end-to-end testing is essential to ensuring that new or modified systems used to collectively support a core business function or mission operation will not jeopardize an organization's ability to deliver products and services on or after January 1, 2000. This is especially true for the Defense Department, which relies on a complex array of interconnected computer systems -- including weapons, command and control, satellite, inventory management, transportation management, health care, financial, personnel, and payments systems -- to carry out its operations. This report (1) assesses the U.S. Transportation Command's management of its end-to-end test of its ability to plan and execute joint major theater war deployment operations and (2) determines what the results of this test show with respect to operational risks and readiness.

GAO noted that: (1) year 2000 end-to-end testing is an essential component of an effective year 2000 testing program since year 2000-related problems can affect so many of the systems owned and operated by an entity as well as systems belonging to business partners and infrastructure providers; (2) to be effective, end-to-end testing should be approached in a structured and disciplined fashion; (3) both the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) guidance to its combatant commands on managing year 2000 operational evaluations, and GAO's year 2000 test guidance define a number of key management controls to employ when planning, executing, analyzing, and reporting on these tests and evaluations; (4) GAO found that TRANSCOM's deployment operational evaluation satisfied most of the key processes that JCS' guidance specifies; (5) TRANSCOM established a year 2000 task force to guide the evaluation effort, which included surface and airlift experts, test and evaluation experts from the Joint Interoperability Test Center and the Defense Office of Test and Evaluation, component command and service representatives, and a public affairs representative; (6) TRANSCOM performed a rehearsal before conducting the test to ensure that all critical systems and interfaces were operating correctly and that all staff knew their roles and responsibilities; (7) however, TRANSCOM had not satisfied key steps that are pivotal to: (a) fully disclosing and appropriately addressing risks associated with limitations in the defined scope of the operational evaluation; and (b) accurately reporting on mission readiness and impacts; (8) the result was that year 2000 readiness of critical tasks associated with conducting a MTW deployment--namely the use of commercial carriers and port operations to deploy goods and people--was not known with sufficient certainty to support TRANSCOM's May 1999 reported position that it can conduct a MTW deployment in a year 2000 environment with no material impact on operations; (9) TRANSCOM has since either implemented or initiated appropriate actions to address GAO's recommendations for correcting these weaknesses; (10) for example, TRANSCOM amended its final reports on the evaluation to disclose the scope limitations; and (11) it is also working with its component commands to identify their major commercial carrier business partners, to assess their readiness and risks, and to develop risk mitigation strategies.

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