New Methods Needed for Checking Payments Made by Computers

FGMSD-76-82: Published: Nov 7, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 7, 1977.

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The Federal Government disburses $700 billion annually, largely through huge, decentralized, computerized, cashless systems. The law requires that those who approve individual payments assure that the payments are legal, proper, and correct.

In its review, GAO found that millions could be saved if federal agencies improved their guidelines for checking payments made by computers. Under the current system it is often impossible for the responsible persons to examine the basic documents previously used to determined that payments were proper.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should issue guidelines requiring department and agency heads to: designate an operating official at the assistant secretary or comparable level to review each automated payment system and the controls built into it to determine whether they are operating effectively and can be relied on to compute payments that are accurate and legal; direct that such reviews be made at least annually, supplemented by interim checks of major system changes; direct the certifying or disbursing officer to certify or disburse automated payments only when notified by the designated operating official that the automated system and the controls built into it are operating effectively; require a written statement from the designated operating official if the official determines that the system is not operating effectively and that corrective action could not be taken before the next voucher preparation; and provide that, when significant system deficiencies are identified, the designated operating official must assume responsibility for subsequent certification that the payments are otherwise proper.

    Agency Affected:


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