Better Management of Information Resources at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Could Reduce Waste and Improve Productivity

IMTEC-85-1: Published: Dec 21, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) information resources management (IRM) program to determine: (1) the extent to which BIA is using modern technology to help employees reduce costs and improve productivity; and (2) how effectively BIA manages its automatic data processing (ADP) equipment, information systems, and forms.

GAO found that, although Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and BIA internal directives require that ADP equipment be inventoried periodically and that equipment not be installed until needed, BIA has no effective means for carrying out these requirements. As a result, BIA does not always know what ADP equipment it has, where it is located, and how it is being used. In addition, GAO found that the BIA coordination of information systems and oversight of information collection activities is not effectively managed, resulting in: (1) ADP equipment not being used; (2) the development and maintenance of duplicative or overlapping information systems; (3) noncompliance with forms approval directives; and (4) the use of unapproved forms. Although the Department of the Interior has established an Office of Data Systems in BIA, additional actions are needed to improve IRM. BIA has not given the office the responsibility for: (1) overseeing funds used in developing and maintaining information system software; or (2) reviewing and approving information collection instruments that do not affect automated processing.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. 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 the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to establish better controls over ADP equipment, systems development efforts, and paperwork management activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Any additional ADP equipment acquired by BIA will be approved by the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Budget, and Administration. Interior has been working with BIA to establish the organization foundations to ensure that it develops and implements effective controls for managing its information resources.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Budget and Administration to do the following to preclude a recurrence of the types of management problems described in this report: (1) prohibit BIA from acquiring any additional ADP equipment and related software without the Assistant Secretary's approval until it demonstrates that it has established effective management controls over these resources; (2) alert BIA program and local offices to the consequences of using forms that do not display valid control number and require BIA to take appropriate steps to get OMB approval on unapproved forms; (3) review, on a cyclical basis, BIA information resources management activities, providing broad audit coverage, particularly of the ADP equipment, systems development, and forms management areas; and (4) work with BIA to ensure that it develops and implements effective controls for managing its information resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As of October 1986, the Office of Data Systems was expanded along the lines recommended in the report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to either expand the responsibilities of the Director of the Office of Data Systems or appoint a senior official to serve as the BIA IRM manager. This person, who should report to the Assistant Secretary or the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, would be responsible and accountable for managing all BIA ADP equipment, information systems development, and forms. BIA should reassign, hire, or otherwise appoint professionals to assist this manager in carrying out the assigned responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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