Budget and Spending:

Federal Government's Use of International Data Corporation's Subscription Services

PLRD-82-118: Published: Aug 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the federal government's procurement of automated data processing (ADP) information subscriptions from the International Data Corporation (IDC). The review addressed a constituent's complaint that the government is paying too much for the IDC subscriptions and receiving few benefits.

The IDC subscriptions provide unlimited telephone inquiry service, access to several extensive information databases, and customized research reports. The three types of subscriptions account for 95 percent of all the IDC services used by the government. GAO found that the government pays less for IDC subscriptions than commercial customers pay and that government users were satisfied with IDC benefits and services. GAO also found that agencies generally do not consolidate or centrally control the purchase of ADP information services or match users' needs with the most cost-beneficial subscription. As a result, IDC subscription users are unaware of the types and number of ADP information subscriptions available within their agencies. Agencies have not prepared cost-benefit analyses to determine the number or types of subscriptions that they require. GAO believes that better management and control over the purchases of IDC subscription services will substantially reduce costs to the government.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its response, OMB supported the need for more rigorous management of agency information resources, but did not agree that central agency control over this type of contract was necessarily appropriate. Each agency should decide what degree of delegation is appropriate to its situation, according to OMB.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), should direct DOD and all civil agencies to centrally control contracts for ADP information services so that only necessary subscription services are purchased.

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

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its response, OMB stated that while the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 required the designation of senior agency officials for information resources management, it also acknowledged that agencies needed to have flexibility in deciding how best to manage information resources. Establishing uniform requirements for agencies to control such services is not cost effective according to OMB.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should direct the Department of Defense (DOD) and all civil agencies to determine overall agency needs for ADP information so that the most cost-effective subscriptions will be purchased.

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

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its response, OMB stated that agency information management officials would be reminded of the need for controls over subscription services to prevent waste and duplication in such procurements. The officials would also be urged to adopt whatever procedures are appropriate in their situations. These matters were set forth in a memorandum for senior agency officials December 1982.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should direct DOD and all civil agencies to prepare cost-benefit analyses before purchasing subscription services.

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

 

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