Computer Matching:

Need for Guidelines on Data Collection and Analysis

HRD-90-30: Published: Apr 17, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) need to: (1) work with federal agencies to develop and coordinate guidance on data collection and reporting for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS) in accordance to the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988, focusing on whether states had appropriate data collection and reporting systems.

GAO found that: (1) as of February 1990, federal agencies had not developed final guidelines for data collection and reporting for the IEVS computer matching program; (2) most states did not collect sufficient cost and benefit data; (3) states believed that the lack of coordination among federal agencies had a major impact on IEVS implementation; (4) officials responsible for IEVS implementation lacked federal guidance; (5) if federal agencies do not take into account IEVS reporting requirements, states may be required to develop separate and duplicate reporting systems; (6) OMB made little progress in consolidating the collection and reporting of data to meet IEVS and act requirements; (7) due to collection, reporting, and coordination problems, federal agencies established an interagency income verification work group to provide a forum for discussing problems and developing uniform data collection and reporting guidelines for IEVS; and (8) OMB would be responsible for coordinating data collection and reporting requirements for IEVS if duplication continued to be a problem.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Originally, an interagency work group included the recommendation as part of its broader agenda of revising federal regulations for computer-matching requirements. When the agencies' staffs indicated that they preferred to work without OMB presence, OMB concurred but, as a result, lost touch with the project. In the interim, the work group concluded that there was a more pressing need than data reporting and collection guidelines and developed a proposed regulation that would have allowed states to waive mandated computer matching to the extent that they could document that it was not cost-effective. However, OMB rejected the proposed regulation. The interagency work group has since broken up, and according to its former coordinator, there are no plans to develop data collection and reporting guidelines for computer matching.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, OMB, should work with the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), Family Support Administration, and the Food and Nutrition Service to develop uniform data collection and reporting guidelines that would satisfy IEVS program requirements and conform with the requirements of the computer matching act. These guidelines should also provide for the collection of information that would allow states to: (1) make informed decisions about where to focus their resources; and (2) conduct appropriate analyses of their program performance.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget


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