Validity and Comparability of Quantitative Data Presented by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency on Inspectors General Activities

AFMD-82-78: Published: May 18, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the accuracy of the quantitative data contained in the first two summary reports of inspectors general activities and accompanying fact sheets issued by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

The GAO review disclosed that the data collection methodology for each report was different, standard definitions were not used, and some agency figures were double-counted. Because of these problems, GAO had some concerns about the validity and comparability of the report tables and the Council's claim of taxpayer savings of $2.1 billion resulting from inspectors general activities for the 6-month period ending September 30, 1981. Failure to use standardized definitions, coupled with problems associated with using two different data collection methodologies, affected data validity and precluded meaningful analyses and comparisons of the data as between the two reports. In the Department of Transportation and the General Services Administration, far more costs were reported as recovered than GAO could account for. GAO found that the over $1 billion which the Department of Defense reported represented costs avoided due to program changes, not costs avoided due to inspector general activities. At the Department of Agriculture, savings were reported as per annum costs avoided rather than one-time savings. The Council is aware that there were problems with the reports and is attempting to correct them by eliminating current differences in definition and revising the report tables.

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