Indian Trust Funds:
Challenges Facing Interior's Implementation of New Trust Asset and Accounting Management System
T-AIMD-99-238: Published: Jul 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1999.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the: (1) Department of the Interior's efforts to acquire the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS); (2) results of GAO's evaluation and recommendations to Interior to address its findings; (3) status of TAAMS; and (4) challenges still confronting Interior's implementation of this important system.
GAO noted that: (1) GAO's April 1999 report found that Interior was not following sound practices that would: (a) help ensure that TAAMS cost-effectively met trust management needs; and (b) reduce development risks; (2) until Interior defines the logical characteristics of its business environment and uses them to establish technical standards and approaches, it runs the risk that TAAMS and other information technology investments will be redundant and incompatible and out-of-sync with Indian trust management requirements; (3) in undertaking its efforts to acquire TAAMS, Interior did not follow a sound process for: (a) ensuring that the most cost-effective technical alternative was selected; and (b) reducing acquisition risks; (4) by not following accepted best practices for technology service acquisitions, Interior was not necessarily dooming TAAMS to failure; (5) rather, it was further elevating the risk of encountering problems in the development stages that could delay implementation or unnecessarily increase costs; (6) according to the TAAMS project manager, the TAAMS contractor has already modified its commercial-off-the-shelf product to provide the functionality called for in the TAAMS contract; (7) the contractor is in the process of testing this product; (8) it expects to complete testing by mid September; (9) during the week of June 14, 1999, the contractor performed integration testing of the initial version of TAAMS, and the following week, Interior initiated a TAAMS pilot at the Billings, Montana, area office; (10) the purpose of software integration testing is to verify that units of software, when combined, work together as intended; (11) on July 7 and July 8, the contractor conducted preliminary user acceptance tests at the contractor's facility in Dallas, Texas; (12) Interior has also engaged an independent verification and validation (IV&V) agent who will verify that system testing is performed in accordance with generally accepted guidelines; (13) when the IV&V assessment is done in September 1999, Interior will decide whether or not to proceed with implementing TAAMS; and (14) it is critical for Interior to follow sound practices during the testing phase for TAAMS.