Education Issues

OCG-93-18TR: Published: Dec 1, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO summarized information on education issues facing Congress and the new administration, focusing on the need to: (1) enhance federal efforts to meet national educational goals; (2) reduce the cost and preserve the integrity of the student loan program; and (3) strengthen Department of Education management.

GAO noted that: (1) the education system is not meeting industry standards for a more highly skilled workforce; (2) while the United States spends $221 billion in cooperative education, it fails to provide basic reasoning and problem-solving skills to its students and remains behind other industrialized nations in the areas of mathematics and science; (3) one in three youths has insufficient skills to gain entry level, semiskilled, or high wage occupations; (4) Education needs to help schools adjust to a higher proportion of poor, minority, and immigrant children, support development of higher educational standards, develop new forms of student assessment, assist program integration, develop an effective national strategy for school-to-work transition, and promote school reform while maximizing its resources; and (5) Education must correct general, human resource, and financial managerial problems, particularly with its student assistance programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although GAO continues to report that student financial aid programs are high risk, the Department has made a number of system enhancements designed to help protect the government's financial interests. Its FY 1997 financial statements received an unqualified opinion, a first. In addition, it implemented the Education Central Automated Processing System, which integrated many of its separate financial processes. The National Student Loan Data System is working to help resolve known data quality and reliability problems and improve data integrity. Also, the Department has reported that its 17 mission-critical systems, particularly those supporting its student financial aid programs, are year 2000 compliant, and it has awarded a contract to begin modernizing its student aid programs' information systems.

    Recommendation: The Department of Education must have information and financial management systems that provide needed data and protect the federal government's financial interests from waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Corrective actions will require new systems and revised regulations, or legislation, or both.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


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