Library of Congress:

Opportunities to Improve General and Financial Management

T-GGD/AIMD-96-115: Published: May 7, 1996. Publicly Released: May 7, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed two independent management and financial reviews of the Library of Congress. GAO noted that: (1) the management review found that the Library's mission needed to be reassessed because its enormous growth threatens to overwhelm its staff, structure, and resources; (2) alternative missions include service to Congress exclusively, Congress and the nation, or Congress, the nation, and the world community; (3) the first two mission options would require fewer staff and resources, but the third mission would require staff and funding increases; (4) after determining its mission, the Library's service role options include being an independent archive-knowledge developer or an information-knowledge broker; (5) the review recommended that the Library focus on the Congress-nation mission alternative and become a national information-knowledge broker; (6) the review also recommended that the Library improve its human and financial resources management and operational processes; (7) the financial review found that the Library had mixed results in implementing previous GAO recommendations and certain financial management weaknesses remain; (8) except for property and equipment accounts, the Library's financial statements presented fairly, in all material respects, its financial position as of September 30, 1995; (9) the Library's internal controls were not effective in safeguarding assets, ensuring that material misstatements did not occur, and ensuring that gifts complied with applicable laws and regulations; and (10) the review made several recommendations for safeguarding assets and improving accounting processes.

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 Library should establish a comprehensive plan for safeguarding the collections by defining and applying specific standards of care to reasonably ensure that the risks from internal Library staff would be effectively controlled when: (1) the Library can be sure that only those with need have access to the collection; (2) the Library has secured its most at-risk material in a way that it knows who accessed secured areas; (3) it has established procedures to periodically inventory key items in the collection; (4) staff are precluded from bringing personal items into storage areas; (5) it has reduced the number of non-emergency exits in the collections areas of the Library's buildings; (6) it has regular reporting, tracking, and follow-up of missing materials; (7) it has a coordinated approach to access by its own maintenance personnel and those of the Architect of the Capitol; and (8) it has sufficient surveillance cameras in areas where high-value materials are stored.

    Agency Affected: Library of Congress

  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 Library should establish a comprehensive plan for safeguarding the collections by defining and applying specific standards of care to reasonably ensure that the risks from users would be effectively controlled when: (1) the Library is able to tell what collection material is served to users and what they return; (2) reading rooms are under a reasonable level of surveillance and users know that they are being watched; (3) the Library knows who its users are; and (4) the Library limits what material users bring into the reading rooms and knows what they take out.

    Agency Affected: Library of Congress

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to a letter sent September 30, 1999, the Library's Planning, Programming, Budgeting, Execution, and Evaluation System (PPBEES) was implemented. The planning and program steps of the PPBEES will be used to ensure that processes and activities delivering the Library's products and services support the mission of the Library.

    Recommendation: The Library should consider discontinuing or reducing products and services that are not consistent with a newly established mission.

    Agency Affected: Library of Congress

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Agency and oversight committees disagree with this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Library's mission should be focused within the Congress/nation alternative and planning should begin toward a future mission of serving Congress and performing the role of a national information/knowledge broker.

    Agency Affected: Library of Congress

  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 Library should establish a comprehensive plan for safeguarding the collections by defining and applying specific standards of care to reasonably ensure that the environmental risks would be effectively controlled when the Library has determined that high-value, irreplaceable items have been protected from possible fire and water damage and that its preservation program is targeting and treating its highest priority items in a timely fashion.

    Agency Affected: Library of Congress

 

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