Legal Services Corporation:

Benefits and Costs of Proposed Information System Improvements Not Clear

HRD-88-5: Published: Mar 8, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) efforts to improve its management information system for evaluating grantee performance, to determine: (1) whether LSC adequately designed and developed the system; (2) whether LSC could realize the identified benefits; and (3) why system cost estimates varied.

GAO found that the proposed improvements could provide valuable information for monitoring grantee performance. GAO also found that the LSC design and development did not: (1) support the need for detailed timekeeping requirements; (2) identify and document the benefits of implementing its requirements; (3) explain how timekeeping and functional-reporting information would improve its ability to monitor grantee performance; and (4) ensure that grantees would use the information to better manage their programs. In addition, GAO found that: (1) LSC estimates varied from those of the Project Advisory Group because of variations in estimates for processing records; and (2) neither estimate was based on analytical techniques with detailed support.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LSC earlier efforts were designed to develop an automated legal system that would address the areas of time-keeping, functional accounting, and case service reports. Development of this all inclusive system proved to be beyond their capacity and finances, and efforts to implement the full system have been dropped. LSC is currently discussing creating a timekeeping system only.

    Recommendation: The President, LSC, in conjunction with grantees, should determine what information LSC and grantees need to better monitor and manage grantee programs.

    Agency Affected: Legal Services Corporation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LSC earlier efforts were designed to develop an automated legal system that would address the areas of time-keeping, functional accounting, and case service reports. Development of this all-inclusive system proved to be beyond their capacity and finances, and efforts to implement the full system have been dropped. LSC is currently discussing creating a timekeeping system only.

    Recommendation: The President, LSC, in conjunction with grantees, should establish objectives and functions for its management information system.

    Agency Affected: Legal Services Corporation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LSC issued an internal report which estimated the costs between $2 and $18 million based on a contractor's analysis. LSC plans no further cost benefit analysis, but included in its taskforce report a justification for developing the system.

    Recommendation: The President, LSC, in conjunction with grantees, should use systematic analytical techniques to assess the costs of such a system.

    Agency Affected: Legal Services Corporation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LSC earlier efforts were designed to develop an automated legal system that would address the areas of time-keeping, functional accounting, and case service reports. Development of this all-inclusive system proved to be beyond their capacity and finances, and efforts to implement the full system have been dropped. LSC is currently discussing creating a timekeeping system only.

    Recommendation: The President, LSC, in conjunction with grantees, should prepare a plan for an orderly design, development, and implementation process.

    Agency Affected: Legal Services Corporation

 

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