Better Use of Information Technology Can Reduce the Burden of Federal Paperwork

GGD-83-39: Published: Apr 11, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed four data collection activities to determine the potential benefits in terms of information technology.

GAO found that increased use of information technology would reduce the federal paperwork burden and improve the efficiency of the data collection activities. While the extent of the potential benefits varied, opportunities exist in all of the reviewed cases for better use of information technology. Some recent actions have been taken by federal managers to realize these benefits, but more could be done. GAO found that federal managers at all levels need to be more attentive to the use of information technology as a means of reducing reporting and paperwork problems. Agency officials stated that the lack of guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is one of the prime reasons individual agency policies and procedures have not been promulgated. GAO found that agencies need: (1) strategies to implement and control automated data submission programs; and (2) information and marketing analyses to realize the potential for increasing automated submissions. In addition, GAO found that federal managers have not maximized the benefits of automated programs once developed. GAO found that the number of automated Medicare claims could be increased by about 4 million, which would save about $1.3 million. GAO also found that the Census Bureau could almost double its volume of automated submissions and save about $183,000. In the two remaining case studies, GAO identified potential improvements through better use of technology in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action will be taken by the agency because Medicare regulations do not require revision to accomplish the objective of this recommendation. In December 1982, HCFA issued a transmittal that requires Medicare intermediaries to accept electronic claims data when cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to revise its Medicare regulations to require intermediaries to accept submissions of Medicare claims in an automated form where it is cost effective to the Medicare program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator, HCFA, to clarify the roles and responsibilities of regional staff to ensure intermediaries' compliance with information technology guidelines and regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator, HCFA, to revise its intermediary performance evaluation criteria to reflect an intermediary's contribution to the increased use of automation in Medicare billing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner, FDA, to establish procedures to use a turnaround document to collect drug product listing changes, instead of using forms.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner, FDA, to revise procedures for collecting data for new drugs to allow submission of a computer printout of the data instead of a form, for drug manufacturers with this capability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to conduct a detailed survey of at least the high volume Shipper's Export Declaration respondents to determine capability and interest in the automated program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to prepare promotional literature for managers detailing the program's technology options and the benefits of program participation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Census Bureau to aggressively promote the automated program through personalized followup of inquiries made by respondents and by contacting potential candidates identified through the survey.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission should promote and publicize the automated program and its varied capabilities to receive data in machine readable form.

    Agency Affected: Commodity Futures Trading Commission

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission should contact industry service bureaus and encourage program participation on behalf of their clients.

    Agency Affected: Commodity Futures Trading Commission

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should establish written policies encouraging the use of information technologies as a means of reducing the burden on the government and the public and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should direct the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, as part of its continuing oversight responsibilities of federal information management activities, to periodically review federal agencies' efforts to implement and reassess programs targeted at increasing automated submission of required data.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should amend the forms clearance process so that, except under exigent circumstances, agencies must consider whether an increase in automated submission is feasible and cost effective. If so, the agency should submit a plan describing how such an increase would be accomplished.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

 

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