Federal Education Funding:

Multiple Programs and Lack of Data Raise Efficiency and Effectiveness Concerns

T-HEHS-98-46: Published: Nov 6, 1997. Publicly Released: Nov 6, 1997.

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GAO discussed: (1) the amount and complexity of federal support for education; (2) additional planning, implementation, and evaluative information needed by agencies and the Congress on federal education programs; and (3) some of the challenges of obtaining more and better information.

GAO noted that: (1) billions in federal education dollars are distributed through hundreds of programs and more than 30 agencies; (2) agencies and the Congress need information to plan, implement, and evaluate these programs; (3) to gauge and ensure the success of these programs, the Congress and agencies need several kinds of information; (4) they need to know which specific program approaches or models are most effective, the circumstances in which they are effective, and if the individual programs are working nationwide; (5) they also need to be able to look across all programs that are designed to help a given target group to see if individual programs are working efficiently together and whether the federal effort is working effectively overall; (6) GAO believes a close examination of these multiple education programs is needed; (7) the current situation has created the potential for inefficient service and reduced overall effectiveness; (8) basic information about programs and program results is lacking and there are many challenges in obtaining this important information; and (9) the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) holds promise as a tool to help agencies manage for results, coordinate their efforts with other agencies, and obtain the information they need to plan and implement programs and evaluate program results.

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