Developing State Automated Information Systems To Support Federal Assistance Programs:

Problems and Opportunities

FGMSD-78-31: Published: May 26, 1978. Publicly Released: May 26, 1978.

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Federal assistance to State and local governments is provided through about 1,000 programs administered by over 50 Federal departments and agencies. Many of these programs are so large and complex that States must use computerized systems to support them. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-90 provides guidance to Federal agencies for cooperating with and assisting State and local governments in the coordinated development and operation of information systems.

The Departments of Agriculture; Labor; Transportation; and Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) have not been effective generally in helping States to develop automated information systems to support Federal assistance programs although the Department of Labor has done more than the other departments. Agencies in these departments have not been involved in the design, development, or installation of State systems for most of the programs reviewed. Even when agencies did attempt to provide guidance and assistance, their actions were not timely. There was little evidence of coordination between Federal agencies and the States in planning, developing, or operating information systems. Instead, data processing and technical resources at the four departments have been devoted primarily to internal automated systems development.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor, Transportation, and HEW should establish and adequately staff offices within their departments to be responsible for State information systems supporting the agencies' assistance programs including: assessing States' needs for an automated system and determining whether the program lends itself to a standardized system, determining the extent that States have information systems already operational, identifying States that need systems providing overall direction and coordination for system development efforts, and providing States with onsite technical assistance in installing information systems and modifying operational systems. The Director of OMB should clarify the intent of OMB Circular A-90 to disclose the circumstances under which States should be funded to develop systems independently when a model system is available, obtain the names of individuals and offices within each agency responsible for working with State information systems, and provide a forum for these Federal officials and agencies.

    Agency Affected:


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