Survey To Identify Models Used by Executive Agencies in the Policymaking Process

PAD-82-46: Published: Sep 24, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO processed and analyzed the results of a congressional questionnaire sent to 43 departments, agencies, and other Federal entities to determine the nature and number of major computer models being used by Federal agencies in the policymaking process.

Based on the agencies' responses, 357 models were identified. The number of models reported in use range from 1 to 51. Nearly three-quarters of the agencies responding used 10 or fewer models. Over half of these models were used for either forecasting or problem analysis. Agencies reported that 69 percent of the models had first been used less than 5 years ago, 64 percent of all models had undergone a major revision during the past 2 years, and 56 percent had been updated within the 3 months prior to the survey. Developmental costs were under $100,000 for nearly half of the models and, for some models, developmental costs were not directly incurred by the agencies, but by private firms with charges made on a subscription basis or based on the models' use. About 49 percent of the models were developed within the responding agency, with another 6 percent developed by other Federal agencies. In addition, 30 percent of the models were developed under Government contract. For 68 percent of the models, the yearly operating costs were under $50,000. Some type of review or evaluation has been made of over 82 percent of the models. The respondents indicated that the documentation could be easily understood and the results used effectively in 35 percent of the cases. In over half of the cases, the data used were obtained from the responding agency; 16 percent obtained their data from Government contract, and 13 percent from other Government agencies. Fewer than 10 percent obtained their data from publications.

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