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Mr. Fazio. We have a question we are going to put in the record which asks for a comprehensive discussion of where you have been on computers.
Mr. WHITE. We will be happy to supply that.
As an example, we have 300 different pay periods annually. We have nine different payrolls. Some are biweekly, some are weekly, some are for the Supreme Court, some for the Botanic Gardens, and so forth. So that our payroll function is separated into nine different areas; that is to say, when a change is made in one, they have to make different changes in the other ones because the people are paid on a different basis. It is a massive amount of work and effort.
Mr. LEWIS. Theoretically the computer makes all these things easier?
Mr. WHITE. Yes.
Mr. LEWIS. HIS does work for CBO and for the Library of Congress. They do seem to want to do work for other agencies, General Accounting Office, so the question is an obvious one. I am not sure that you have necessarily answered it in this discussion. Maybe you could add something to the record.
Mr. WHITE. Be happy to.
The following is in response to the request for information concerning the reasons behind the development of data processing facilities for the office of the Architect of the Capitol.
The decision to proceed with the development of an in-house computer capability was based on three underlying considerations: (1) the unique mission of this office in serving the needs of both Houses of Congress, in contrast to the many other support agencies which come under the jurisdiction of either the Senate or the House, but not both; (2) the specialized character of the maintenance, operation, and care of buildings under the jurisdiction of this office, and, in addition, the construction activities including new construction and renovations, in contrast to the legislative responsibilities of other Legislative Branch offices; and (3) a determination that management of data processing resources by this office is indispensable for accomplishing priority requirements at reasonable cost.
As explained more fully below, we believe that these considerations are no less critical today than they were at the time the decision was made to acquire data processing equipment. Accordingly, it is the Architect's position that the interests of the Congress can best be served when we are responsible for our data processing services.
A. Historical Background
By way of background, it is noteworthy that electronic data processing equipment was first acquired by this office in fiscal year 1967, some 17 years ago. Before making that initial acquisition, a thorough investigation was made of alternative ways of meeting office needs, including the possibility of sharing computer time with other agencies that had data processing facilities. During the course of this review, discussions were held with staff representatives of the House and Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittees, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the General Accounting Office (GAO). We were advised by both GSA and GAO to acquire such equipment because it could be adapted to our particular requirements (then essentially for payroll operations) and because other considerations were deemed to favor the development of our own capability.
We contracted with the Burroughs Corporation for the initial equipment; subsequently, the equipment was upgraded to keep pace with our increasing requirements (e.g., accounting operations) and with technological advances in the data processing field. After soliciting proposals from the major computer vendors, we contracted in 1980 with the Sperry-Univac Corporation for our data processing requirements; Sperry continues to supply the software and hardware for the Architect's computer system under this contract.
B. Profile of Present System
At the present time, the Architect's data processing system is a state-of-the-art mid-size installation that is centered around a Sperry 1100/60 series "mainframe" computer. The central processor currently handles 600,000 instructions per second and contains approximately two million bytes of core memory. The basic configuration also includes four disk drives (2.4 billion bytes), dual access disk controllers, two tape drives, two printers, and 32 terminals (with six additional terminals on order). In addition to large volume batch processing performed in connection with certain applications (e.g., payroll, time and attendance information, and internal data processing programs), the system processes approximately 2,000 - 3,000 on-line transactions each day, the bulk of which are initiated by users on terminals located at work stations throughout the Architect's office. To support all requirements with maximum equipment utilization, the computer center is operated on a two-shift basis, Monday through Friday, with an operator also on duty on alternate Saturdays.
Of course, the equipment configuration is based largely on the demands placed on the system by its users. The largest and most complex programs include the Architect's central accounting and payroll operations. In addition to these major financial systems, programs have been developed for a diverse variety of needs of our operating divisions including such applications as space information, construction management, store room inventories, purchase order processing, and records management. Systems are also in place for monitoring the performance and efficiency of the computer system itself and for other needs related to data processing administration.
C. Need for Architect of the Capitol Data Processing Capability
There are four major reasons why this office has taken the position that the data processing function is essential for the effective management of activities under the Architect's jurisdiction:
1. Control over priorities and resources. Unless the data processing function remains under this office, there is no assurance that priority tasks will be performed in the manner and time required. Having to compete with other users -- particularly those with legislative functions would seriously threaten our ability to perform routine operations (e.g., running payrolls and daily accounting balance reports) or to make necessary modifications to existing programs or develop new applications to meet priority Architect of the Capitol requirements. Relieving the office of responsibility for managing data processing resources would be detrimental in other respects as well because the office could no longer be held accountable for the amount and cost of data processing resources required to accomplish its mission.
In summary, under present circumstances, the Architect of the Capitol can set data processing priorities in relation to the demands imposed on this office and is accountable for the efficient utilization of resources. Without this control, however, the Architect's requirements would be subject to the priorities of other offices and thus responsiveness to high priority activities could not be assured.
2. Comity between the Senate and House. As one of the few support agencies serving both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Architect of the Capitol has developed computerized data files containing information on activities of the office on both the Senate and House Sides. Examples of such "cross-cutting" information include personnel and payroll files, storeroom inventories, space inventory and allocation cost of suite alterations, etc. One of the advantages of the Architect's office operating its own computer system is that it respects the independence of each body and thereby maintains the integrity of data files by preventing unauthorized access. Such protection could not be provided if the Architect had to rely on either the House or Senate computer services because the programmers who design applications software would not only have direct access to the data files but also would be familiar with the range of information available and how it is used by the Architect's office. This point was emphasized to us in a meeting held several years ago with officials of the House Information Systems (HIS) when we inquired about the feasibility of HIS assistance on our space information program. In this respect, the Architect's separate computer installation is a product of the tradition of comity between the two houses of Congress, and, importantly, follows logically from the fact that separate computer facilities have been developed for each House.
3. Mission of the Architect of the Capitol. The Architect's role is chiefly that of maintaining the buildings and grounds occupied by the Legislative Branch and providing a wide range of support services to the Congress. The programs that have been developed by the Architect of the Capitol's data processing staff reflect this unique mission of the office and it is therefore unlikely that significant use could be made by this office of programs developed by the Senate or House computer centers for other offices that are primarily engaged in the legislative process.
4. Complexity of the Architect of the Capitol's Computer Programs. Finally, questions must be rais į abou the ability of other computer installations to support adequé tely tie Architect's data processing requirements. The office is heavil" dependent on the functioning of the computer system, for exar.ple, to perform a substantial number of day-to-day operations. Pityroll processing illustrates this point. The Architect's payro.I system is designed to process pay checks on three different pay cycles weekly, biweekly and semi-monthly
and for three different disbursement centers -- Treasury, Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. The payroll system also provides for. tips earned by Senate Restaurant employees. To meet these requirements of law, the Architect of the Capitol's workforce is divided into nine different payroll groups for which there are a total of 310 separate payroll periods each year; on the average, therefore, better than one payroll is being prepared each work day throughout the year! Of course, changes in pay statutes occur frequently and normally affect all pay groups which underscores the importance of having knowledgeable programmers capable of making changes efficiently and with little disruption to ongoing operations. This same general comment applies equally to other critical systems on the Architect of the Capitol's computer such as accounting, inventory management, project status and coordination, etc.
It should also be noted that the decision by the Architect to provide in-house data processing, with the support of those with whom we conferred, is similar to the decisions by several other Legislative Branch activities to provide their own data processing systems, separate from HIS. Included among activities are the Library of Congress and the General Accounting Office, and even some Committees of the House. In conclusion, the data processing activities of this office are tailored to the particular needs of our operating units and have evolved in a prudent, well planned manner. The equipment is being effectively utilized and facilities have been gradually expanded to accommodate increasing capacity requirements and advancements in data processing technology. However, a successful computer operation requires more than equipment; it also involves the commitment and expertise of a data processing staff with first-hand experience in the programs and services they provide and upon which their users depend. The Architect regards the data processing operation highly in these areas and would therefore advise against any precipitous changes that would undermine the high degree of support for and responsiveness to the Architect of the Capitol requirements.