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GAO discussed the Administration on Aging's (AOA) methodology for collecting data on minority participation, and its data collection methods employed in two other client tracking systems. GAO noted that: (1) the data collection instrument focused on participation in generic service categories instead of program participation; (2) AOA definitions of services lacked specificity and placed the burden on each state to decide on the appropriate categories; (3) the current data collection instrument's service categories are not comprehensive; (4) the AOA data collection instrument did not permit the generation of accurate counts of all participants, including minority participants; (5) AOA data collection procedures lacked participant identification numbers, had no guide for determining low-income and minority status, and lacked standardized data collection procedures; (6) two states had data collection systems that could measure participation in non-AOA programs and examine individual participation; (7) the two states' systems allow them to generate unduplicated counts of all participants, and facilitate their ability to determine minority and low-income status; and (8) the two states' data collection systems did not resolve the other problems associated with the national data on minority participation.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Administration on Aging 1. The Commissioner on Aging should modify the current data collection instrument and methodology to ensure accurate participation data related to programs and services authorized under the Older Americans Act.
Closed - Implemented
AOA intends to meet the new data collection requirements as set forth in the Older Americans Act, as revised in 1992.
Administration on Aging 2. The Commissioner on Aging should develop specific standards for the data input to computer systems currently being used or contemplated by the states so that the information generated can be compared across states.
Closed - Implemented
AOA intends to meet the new requirements for standard data input, as set forth in the Older Americans Act, as revised in 1992.

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