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Both the government and the private sector are increasingly using "data mining"--that is, the application of database technology and techniques (such as statistical analysis and modeling) to uncover hidden patterns and subtle relationships in data and to infer rules that allow for the prediction of future results. As has been widely reported, many federal data mining efforts involve the use of personal information that is mined from databases maintained by public as well as private sector organizations. GAO was asked to survey data mining systems and activities in federal agencies. Specifically, GAO was asked to identify planned and operational federal data mining efforts and describe their characteristics.

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