Federal Productivity Suffers Because Word Processing Is Not Well Managed

FGMSD-79-17: Published: Apr 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1979.

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The Federal Government employs over 171,000 secretaries, stenographers, and typists at an annual salary outlay of over $1.5 billion. Word processing can help reduce the size and cost of this work force. This report discusses the management and productivity of word processing in some of the largest federal agencies. It also assesses the work being done by the General Services Administration (GSA) through its National Archives and Record Service in its central management role for word processing.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status:

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

    Matter: GSA is planning to begin a government-wide inspection of word processing systems in the agencies, and Congress may wish to obtain the results of these inspections for use during oversight and authorization hearings with the agencies.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should upgrade and accelerate efforts to assist and monitor agencies' efforts by: (1) making available the standards and guidelines necessary to develop, operate, and evaluate word processing systems; (2) analyzing agencies' practices to ascertain efficient and cost-effective conditions for operation; (3) developing criteria to help agencies determine whether to lease or buy equipment; (4) conducting periodic reviews of management of word processing systems by the agencies; and (5) acting as a clearinghouse for agency development and review of their processing activities. The Administrator should also expedite issuance of a word processor handbook to aid agencies, and this handbook should include sections on equipment and productivity standards and should be updated periodically. GAO further recommends that the Administrator review agency guidelines for implementing and monitoring word processing systems. Finally, GSA should work with the Office of Personnel Management to point out to agencies any potential human relations pitfalls in the development and operation of word processing equipment.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration


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