Improvements Needed in Managing Automated Decisionmaking by Computers Throughout the Federal Government

FGMSD-76-5: Published: Apr 23, 1976. Publicly Released: Apr 23, 1976.

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Federal agency computers cause more than 1.7 billion payments and other actions a year without any review or evaluation of whether they are correct. At a minimum, Government computers issue annually: (1) unreviewed authorizations for payments or checks totaling $26 billion; (2) unreviewed bills totaling $10 billion; and (3) unreviewed requisitions, shipping orders, repair schedules, and disposal orders for material valued at $8 billion.

Some agencies' internal audit reports show that unreviewed incorrect actions have been issued by several Government computers, incurring overpayments and unnecessary or premature costs of tens of millions of dollars annually. Incorrect computer actions occur because of software problems or data problems. The causes of these problems are numerous. There is no Federal-wide policy, guidance, or other instructions on how computers issuing unreviewed actions should be managed by Federal agencies. There is little checking or monitoring of output on an ongoing or short-term periodic basis. Internal audit reviews of these computer actions are made sporadically or not at all.

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