Department of Education:

Management Commitment Needed to Improve Information Resources Management

IMTEC-92-17: Published: Apr 20, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's strategic information resources management (IRM) planning process, focusing on how effectively Education plans for and manages its information resources in supporting its missions and administering its programs.

GAO found that: (1) Education lacks key management and program information with which to effectively oversee its operations and has not established an effective IRM program; (2) Education's senior IRM officials were not involved in strategic IRM planning and failed to establish a vision for the use of information technology or an effective IRM planning process to meet departmentwide needs; (3) until deficiencies are resolved, it will be difficult for Education and Congress to effectively gauge educational programs' success and develop sound policies to resolve the education crisis; (4) because of incomplete or inaccurate data on the Stafford Student Loan Program, guaranty agencies and lenders were unable to identify students who defaulted on loans and then received new loans, a practice that costs the government millions of dollars in interest subsidies; (5) in three of Education's largest offices, managers lack the accurate and timely information needed to effectively manage and monitor their programs; and (6) Education's strategic IRM plans for fiscal years 1987, 1988, and 1989 did not identify Education's mission or the program objectives, prioritize automation activities, include measures to judge whether improvements occurred during the period, discuss resource requirements, or link the activities to program or agency management areas.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In compliance with this recommendation, a Department of Education "Strategic Plan for Information Resources Management" was completed in August and now has been published. This IRM Strategic Plan has been presented to the Management Audit Committee, the Senior Officers of the Department, and has been adopted by the senior IRM Officer. GAO has been briefed on the completed Strategic Plan.

    Recommendation: To improve the use of information technology in Education, the Secretary of Education should develop a departmentwide IRM management strategy and plan that is linked to overall department goals and objectives. Such a strategy should include defining Education's information technology vision, how technology can be applied to support Education's mission, in partnership with Congress, states, and others who have a role in administering educational programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On April 9, 1992, the Secretary directed the senior IRM official to expand the mission of the Information Management Committee to specifically incorporate the recommendations. The departmentwide Strategic Planning process and IMC planning, analysis and interorganizational coordination activities will continue indefinitely.

    Recommendation: To improve the use of information technology in Education, the Department of Education should direct the senior IRM official to develop, in conjunction with Education's key operating components, an effective departmentwide information planning process that meets federal guidance. This process should include reassessing information needs program by program. Specifically, it should: (1) identify who needs the information and when and why they need it; (2) determine what information Education already has and where it resides; (3) identify how Education can best collect the information it needs, but does not have; and (4) determine how Education can best structure its information and systems to use the information most effectively.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


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