Inspectors General:

Views on Semiannual Reporting

AIMD-99-203: Published: Aug 25, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the semiannual reporting requirements contained in the Inspector General (IG) Act of 1978, focusing on the: (1) composition of the semiannual reports; and (2) views of a range of individuals--IGs, agency managers, and congressional staff--on the usefulness of the reports and what modifications, if any, should be made to the semiannual reporting requirements.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, the semiannual reports generally addressed the reporting requirements specified in the Inspector General Act; (2) approximately 91 percent of the reports (102 of 112) addressed all 12 of the required areas; (3) additionally, GAO found that the semiannual reports discussed governmentwide issues, such as information technology, computer security, and the year 2000 computer problems, to varying degrees; (4) many of the semiannual reports by presidentially appointed IGs--38 of 52--discussed information technology, but far fewer discussed computer security and the year 2000 computer problem; (5) in the designated federal entities (DFE) IG semiannual reports GAO reviewed, 26 of the 60 discussed information technology issues, but relatively few discussed computer security and the year 2000 computer problem; (6) congressional staff, for the most part, viewed the seminannual reports as being useful; (7) they noted that the reports were used in preparing for hearings as well as providing insight into the activities of the IGs and the agencies; (8) the congressional staff were also generally satisfied with the reporting requirements, including the requirement that the report be issued seminannually; (9) they were of the opinion, however, that more emphasis needed to be placed on the systemic issues confronting each agency's management and that agency's implementation of the IG recommendations; (10) there was a general consensus among the IGs and agency managers that the semiannual reports should be streamlined; (11) they generally agreed that the reports should focus on the significant issues that need to be brought to the attention of Congress and agency management; (12) in this regard, agency managers noted that the semiannual reports are not very useful because they encompass all of the work performed over the past 6 months and it is sometimes difficult to identify the most significant issues; (13) there was also strong sentiment in both groups for the issuance of the IG semiannual report to be annually; and (14) however, about half of the DFE IGs wanted to retain the semiannual reporting requirement.

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