Library of Congress:

Costs and Savings of Converting to On-line Cataloging

PEMD-89-24: Published: Aug 14, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 1989.

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GAO reviewed a Library of Congress report on the use of computer workstations in its cataloging areas, focusing on its methodology for analyzing staff reductions, productivity increases, and other savings.

GAO found that the report: (1) conservatively estimated the workstations' effects by reasonably basing staff cost estimates on the higher overall labor costs of maintaining a constant level of output; (2) did not estimate workstation space cost, although it showed savings from space reductions; (3) did not describe the methods for estimating additional staff costs for certain library sections; (4) did not present the productivity analyses underlying its staff cost estimates; (5) lacked entries for the costs of workstation supplies, utilities, and insurance; (6) reasonably used 1984 as the baseline year for estimating savings, although it did not provide a precise measure of performance in the absence of workstations; (7) did not document the basis for estimating the savings resulting from its reduced need for filing staff; (8) inadequately documented its savings estimates for automation program contracts, machine-readable cataloging, and supplies; (9) did not indicate why inconsistencies sometimes occurred among estimates from one workstation to another or from one time to another; and (10) included a number of nonquantified workstation benefits, such as improved staff morale, timely information provision, fewer duplicative activities, and faster error correction.

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