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Information Security: Weaknesses Place Commerce Data and Operations at Serious Risk

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Commerce generates and disseminates important economic information that is of great interest to U.S. businesses, policymakers, and researchers. The dramatic rise in the number and sophistication of cyberattacks on federal information systems is of growing concern. This report provides a general summary of the computer security weaknesses in the unclassified information systems of seven Commerce organizations as well as in the management of the department's information security program. The significant and pervasive weaknesses in the seven Commerce bureaus place the data and operations of these bureaus at serious risk. Sensitive economic, personnel, financial, and business confidential information is exposed, allowing potential intruders to read, copy, modify, or delete these data. Moreover, critical operations could effectively cease in the event of accidental or malicious service disruptions. Poor detection and response capabilities exacerbate the bureaus' vulnerability to intrusions. As demonstrated during GAO's testing, the bureaus' general inability to notice GAO's activities increases the likelihood that intrusions will not be detected in time to prevent or minimize damage. These weaknesses are attributable to the lack of an effective information security program with a lack of centralized management, a risk-based approach, up-to-date security policies, security awareness and training, and continuous monitoring of the bureaus' compliance with established policies and the effectiveness of implemented controls. These weaknesses are exacerbated by Commerce's highly interconnected computing environment. A compromise in a single poorly secured system can undermine the security of the multiple systems that connect to it."
Date: August 13, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Tax Administration: Assessment of IRS' 2000 Tax Filing Season

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) performance during the 2000 tax filing season. Except for a few relatively minor glitches, which were not unexpected given the enormity of the IRS processing task, the processing systems worked well. On the other hand, although taxpayers had an easier time reaching IRS by telephone compared to 1999, IRS' performance was still well below the level achieved in 1998. GAO identified several opportunities for improvement. In some areas, such as with the volunteer assistance programs and the assistance provided by IRS' walk-in sites and area distribution centers, the opportunities centered around performance measures. In those areas, it was not easy to assess the agency's performance because either IRS lacked good measures or there were problems with the data behind the measures. Other improvement opportunities centered around management oversight-the kind of oversight that would enhance the level of service provided by better ensuring that (1) training materials and computer equipment were delivered to the volunteer assistance sites on time and in working condition and (2) data being entered on the website by various IRS offices are current and consistent."
Date: December 22, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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School Vouchers: Publicly Funded Programs in Cleveland and Milwaukee

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This report reviews the Cleveland and Milwaukee school voucher programs, which provide money for low-income families to send their children to private schools. Both programs require participating private schools to be located within the city or the city's school district and to adhere to state standards for private schools, such as those covering health and safety. In both Cleveland and Milwaukee, voucher students were more likely than public school students to come from poorer families that were headed by a single parent. Some information about the racial and ethnic composition of Cleveland's and Milwaukee's public school and voucher students is available, but it is unclear whether the composition changed as a result of the voucher programs. Ohio and Wisconsin use different methods to provide state funds for the voucher programs and spend less on voucher students than on public school students. The Cleveland voucher program is funded with Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid funds up to a limit set by the Ohio Legislature. Wisconsin funds the Milwaukee voucher program with general state aid funds on the basis of number of students participating in the program in a given year. The contracted evaluations of voucher students' academic achievement in Cleveland and Milwaukee found little or no difference in voucher and public school students' performance, but other studies found that voucher students did better in some of the subject areas tested."
Date: August 31, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Export Promotion: Export-Import Bank and Treasury Differ in Their Approaches to Using Tied Aid

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) uses tied air to support U.S. exporters facing foreign competitors. Tied aid is government-to-government concessional financing of public sector capital projects in developing countries that is linked to the procurement of goods and services from the donor country. Through the Tied Aid Capital projects fund, Ex-Im Bank may provide financing to support the negotiations and policing of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tied aid rules and to match foreign aid offers to level the playing field for U.S. exporters. Under the tied aid program legislation, the Department of the Treasury has the authority to direct and control the use of Ex-Im Bank's Tied Aid Capital Projects Fund. This allows Treasury to veto individual tied aid proposals. Ex-Im Bank and Treasury have agreed on a set of broadly stated principles for decisions on the Tied Aid Capital Projects Fund. Although Ex-Im Bank and Treasury both seek to help U.S. exporters, they have different missions and perspectives. Treasury takes a strategic approach to financing tied aid. Ex-Im Bank takes a transactional approach, placing emphasis on helping U.S. exporters by matching foreign tied aid offers that would disadvantage their competitive position for future commercial-term sales."
Date: June 28, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Status of Bureau of Prisons' Year 2000 Efforts

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed how well the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is managing its year 2000 program, focusing on: (1) the status of the BOP's year 2000 program; and (2) recent actions it has taken to strengthen its management of the program and improve year 2000 assistance to state and local government institutions."
Date: January 27, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Best Practices: Capturing Design and Manufacturing Knowledge Early Improves Acquisition Outcomes

Description: A chapter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This report examines how best practices offer improvements to the way the Department of Defense (DOD) develops new weapons systems, primarily the design and manufacturing aspects of the acquisition process. Knowledge about a product's design and producibility facilitates informed decisions about whether to significantly increase investments and reduces the risk of costly design changes later in the program. Leading commercial companies employ practices to capture design and manufacturing knowledge in time to make key decisions during product development. First, the companies kept the degree of the design challenge manageable before starting a new product development program by using an evolutionary approach. Second, the companies captured design and manufacturing knowledge before the two critical decision points in product development: when the design was demonstrated to be stable--the second knowledge point--and when the product was demonstrated to be producible at an affordable cost--the third knowledge point. DOD has made changes to its acquisition policy in an attempt to improve its framework for developing weapons systems, but the policy does not require the capture of design or manufacturing knowledge or sufficient criteria to enter the system demonstration and production phases. In addition, it does not require a decision review to enter the demonstration phase of product development."
Date: July 15, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Small Businesses: Limited Information Available on Contract Bundling's Extent and Effects

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed contract bundling and its effect on small businesses, focusing on: (1) whether the government has met the governmentwide goal of awarding 23 percent of its federal prime contracts to small businesses; (2) what the federal government knows about the extent of contract bundling and its effect on small businesses; and (3) the Small Business Administration's (SBA) efforts to oversee contract bundling by federal agencies."
Date: March 31, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Tactical Aircraft: DOD Needs to Better Inform Congress about Implications of Continuing F/A-22 Cost Growth

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1991, the Air Force began developing the F/A-22 aircraft with advanced features to make it less detectable to adversaries and capable of high speeds for long distances. After a history of program cost increases, Congress limited the cost of F/A-22 production to $37.5 billion in 1997. Congress has remained interested in the potential cost of production. As requested, we (1) identified the latest production cost estimate and assessed the planned offsets from cost reduction plans, (2) identified areas where additional cost growth is likely to occur, and (3) determined the extent that DOD has informed Congress about production costs."
Date: February 28, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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At-Risk Youth: School-Community Collaborations Focus on Improving Student Outcomes

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This report focuses on school and community collaborations for improving student outcomes for at-risk youth. To better provide the support needed for these students to succeed in school and beyond, some schools and school districts have intensified their collaboration with businesses, community agencies, and other neighborhood organizations. These efforts, which go substantially beyond the usual links between schools and other agencies or organizations, go by such names as "extended-service schools," "full- service schools," "community schools," or, more generally, "school-community initiatives." The federal government plays a role in these initiatives because of the funding and support it provides through various programs serving youths who are disadvantaged or at risk of school failure. Schools with a large number of disadvantaged students often struggle to both educate their students and prepare them for further education or a career. The goals of the school-community initiatives GAO reviewed center on helping students achieve in school and readying them for life after graduation. Several officials GAO spoke with said that it is difficult to measure the success of these programs for at-risk youth. Officials cited the lack of funds and the complex nature of educational programs as reasons for the lack of rigorous evaluations. However, several initiatives are under way to collect information on student progress and behavior."
Date: October 10, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Wetlands Protection: Assessments Needed to Determine Effectiveness of In-Lieu-Fee Mitigation

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "More than half the estimated 220 million acres of marshes, bogs, swamps, and other wetlands in the United States during the colonial times, have disappeared, and others have become degraded. This decline is due, primarily, to farming and development. Developers whose projects may harm wetlands must, according to environmental regulations, first avoid and then minimize adverse impacts to wetlands to the extent practicable. If harmful impacts are unavoidable, the developer must compensate by restoring a former wetland, enhancing a degraded wetland, creating a new wetland, or preserving an existing wetland. Such mitigation efforts can occur under the following three types of arrangements: (1) mitigation banks, under which for-profit companies restore wetlands under Army Corps of Engineers agreements and then sell credits for these wetlands to developers; (2) in-lieu-fee arrangements under which developers pay public or non-profit organizations fees for establishing wetland areas, usually under formal Corps agreements; and (3) ad hoc arrangements, under which developers pay individuals or companies to perform the mitigation. This report, determines the extent to which (1) the in-lieu-fee option has been used to mitigate adverse impacts to wetlands, (2) the in-lieu-fee option has achieved its intended purpose of mitigating such impacts, and (3) in-lieu-fee organizations compete with mitigation banks for developers' mitigation business. This report also discusses the use of ad hoc arrangements as a mitigation option. Most of the arrangements were designed to use fees received from developers to restore, enhance, or preserve wetlands, with a few arrangements designed to allow wetlands to be created. During fiscal years 1998 through 2000, developers used the in-lieu-fee option to fulfill mitigation requirements for more than 580 acres of adversely affected wetlands, and paid more than $39.5 million to in-lieu-fee organizations. The extent …
Date: May 4, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Small Business: HUBZone Program Suffers From Reporting and Implementation Difficulties

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Congress created the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program to stimulate economic development and create jobs in distressed urban and rural areas. To achieve these goals, the HUBZone program provides small businesses with greater access to federal contracting opportunities. Reported HUBZone program achievements for fiscal year 2000 were inaccurate because of data entry errors and insufficient guidance on how to report agency data. Federal agencies are having difficulty implementing the HUBZone program. The primary reasons that federal contracting personnel gave for not using the HUBZone program to award contracts were (1) the small number of Small Business Administration (SBA) certified HUBZone firms, (2) difficulty identifying certified firms with the capabilities needed by federal agencies, (3) SBA's guidance that emphasizes the 8(a) program over the HUBZone program, and (4) easier and quicker procedures to award contracts under the 8(a) program."
Date: October 26, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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International Monetary Fund: Efforts to Advance U.S. Policies at the Fund

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The core mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to promote monetary cooperation and exchange rate stability and provide resources to IMF member countries that experience balance-of-payment difficulties. Because it is an international organization, IMF is generally exempt from US law; however, Congress can seek to influence IMF policy by passing laws that direct the Secretary of the Treasury to direct the Executive Director to vote on certain issues within the Board of the Fund. Through three case studies, GAO found that the Treasury and the U.S. Executive Director actively promoted U.S. policies related to (1) sound banking principles, (2) labor issues, and (3) audits of military expenditures. It is difficult to determine whether IMF's adoption of a policy is due solely to U.S. influence because other countries generally support the same policies."
Date: January 23, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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National Fish Hatcheries: Classification of the Distribution of Fish and Eggs Needs Refinement

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the activities of the National Fish Hatchery System, focusing on: (1) the funding level for the National Fish Hatchery System since 1992 and the funding level's impact on operations; (2) the production level at federal hatcheries; (3) the portion of production that is used for recovery and restoration efforts; (4) the distribution of total hatchery production into federal, state, and other waters; and (5) the issues related to health and disease problems at these hatcheries that pose problems for introducing their fish into the wild."
Date: October 15, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Biennial Budgeting: Three States' Experiences

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Members of Congress periodically have expressed interest in converting the federal budget process from an annual to a biennial cycle. Congress believes that the time spent on these activities has come at the expense of congressional oversight and authorization responsibilities. To better understand states' experiences with the biennial budget cycle, GAO studied three states: Arizona, Ohio, and Connecticut. GAO found that the states' reasons for changing their budget cycles varied. For example, Arizona adopted a biennial cycle to increase legislative oversight and reduce time spent on the budget. Connecticut adopted it as part of a fiscal reform effort. To execute a biennial budget successfully, the states' experiences suggest that the legislative and executive branches must agree on how the off-year budget process will work. Different approaches to managing the off-year budget have been developed by states, including establishing formal guidelines for off-year budget changes and relying on leadership control. Efforts to increase legislative oversight in the off-year by converting to a biennial budget process may be difficult. Ohio and Connecticut officials said they that have not increased legislative oversight in the off-year, and Arizona officials said that, although they formally included a process for increasing oversight, they have faced considerable challenges. State experiences can provide useful insights, but the federal budget has unique issues that must be considered before implementing a biennial budget process."
Date: October 27, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Missile Defense: Status of the National Missile Defense Program

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Missile Defense program, focusing on: (1) programmatic changes to the program and whether significant performance and schedule risks remain; and (2) program officials' efforts to control costs, program estimate, and the potential for cost increases."
Date: May 31, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Depot Maintenance: Change in Reporting Practices and Requirements Could Enhance Congressional Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Under 10 U.S.C. 2466, the military services and defense agencies can use no more than 50 percent of annual depot maintenance funding for work by private-sector contractors. The Department of Defense (DOD) is to submit two reports to the Congress annually on the costs of public- and private-sector depot maintenance workloads: a "prior-years" report on the past 2 fiscal years and a "future-years" report on the next 5. Section 2466 also requires GAO to report to the Congress on whether DOD complied with the so-called "50-50 requirement" in the prior-years report and whether the future-years projections are reasonable. This report fulfills that requirement."
Date: October 18, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Aviation and the Environment: Results From a Survey of the Nation's 50 Busiest Commercial Service Airports

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed key environmental concerns and challenges associated with airports' current operations and future growth and the efforts of major airports and federal agencies to address those concerns. GAO conducted a survey of the nation's 50 busiest commercial airports."
Date: August 30, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Crime Technology: Department of Defense Assistance to State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the crime technology assistance provided by the Department of Defense (DOD) to state and local law enforcement agencies during fiscal years (FY) 1996 through 1998, focusing on: (1) grants or other types of direct federal funding; (2) access to support services and systems, such as counterdrug or other intelligence centers; and (3) in-kind transfers of equipment or other assets."
Date: October 12, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Department of Education: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This report reviews the Department of Education's performance report for fiscal year 2000. Specifically, GAO examines Education's progress in achieving selected key outcomes that are important to its mission. Given the lack of performance data, explanations, and strategies to meet unmet goals in the future, it was difficult for GAO to assess progress. The lack of a performance plan also hindered GAO's efforts. Specifically, GAO found that it was difficult to assess Education's progress in achieving the six selected outcomes because of the lack of fiscal year 2000 data for many of its indicators. Consistent with its findings in reviewing Education's performance report from last year, GAO found that Education had no goals or measures for preventing fraud, waste, mismanagement, and error in the student financial assistance programs. Although the Office of Student Financial Assistance has established a target of being removed from GAO's high-risk list, there were no corresponding goals or measures in the department's interim report. However, Education has revised its strategic plan to incorporate an objective of ensuring financial integrity within the department. Like last year's report, GAO found that there was no discussion in the interim report on strategic human capital management."
Date: June 29, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Budget and Internal Control Weaknesses at the U.S. Census Bureau

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In September 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau told Congress that it had at least $305 million in budget savings out of its $4.5 billion fiscal year 2000 no-year appropriations for the 2000 decennial census. Of the $4.5 billion appropriated to the U.S. Census Bureau in fiscal year 2000, lower-than-expected expenditures and obligations resulted in available balances of at least $415 million. A lower-than-expected support staff workload reduced salary and benefit costs by about $348 million. Enumerator workload is largely determined by the initial mail response rate for returned census questionnaires. The initial mail response of 64 percent meant that Census enumerators did not have to visit more than three million American households. However, the available balances from the higher mail response rate and the lower support staff workload were partially offset by about $100 million of higher salary and benefit costs for enumerators, including a higher workload for unanticipated recounts. According to Bureau data, enumerator productivity did not significantly affect budget variances for the 2000 decennial census. The Bureau reported the national average time to visit a household and complete a census questionnaire was about the one hour estimated. Because of significant internal control weaknesses, the Bureau was unable to develop and report complete, accurate, and timely information for managing decision-making. Specific control weaknesses for fiscal year 2000 were related to the lack of controls over financial reporting and financial management systems. Financial reporting issues included (1) the inability to produce accurate and timely financial statements and other financial management reports needed for oversight and day-to-day management; (2) the lack of timely and complete reconciliations needed to validate the balances of key accounts; and (3) unsupported and inaccurate reported balances for accounts payable and undelivered orders--two …
Date: December 28, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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HUD Rental Assistance: Progress and Challenges in Measuring and Reducing Improper Rent Subsidies

Description: A chapter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In fiscal year 2003, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) paid about $28 billion to help some 5 million low-income tenants afford decent rental housing. HUD has three major programs: the Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) and public housing programs, administered by public housing agencies; and project-based Section 8, administered by private property owners. As they are in every year, some payments were too high or too low, for several reasons. To assess the magnitude and reasons for these errors, HUD established the Rental Housing Integrity Improvement Project (RHIIP). In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the sources and magnitude of improper rent subsidy payments HUD has identified and the steps HUD is taking to address them, including efforts to simplify the process of determining rent subsidies."
Date: February 18, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Drug Courts: Better DOJ Data Collection and Evaluation Efforts Needed to Measure Impact of Drug Court Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In exchange for the possibility of dismissed charges or reduced sentences, defendants with substance abuse problems agree to be assigned to drug court programs. In drug courts, judges generally preside over the proceedings; monitor the progress of defendants; and prescribe sanctions and rewards in collaboration with prosecutors, defense attorneys, and treatment providers. Most decisions about drug court operations are left to local jurisdictions. Although programs funded by the Drug Court Program Office (DCPO) must collect and provide performance measurement and outcome data, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not effectively managed this effort because of (1) its inability to readily identify the universe of DCPO-funded drug court programs, including those subject to DCPO's data collection reporting requirements; (2) its inability to accurately determine the number of drug court programs responding to DCPO's semiannual data collection survey; (3) inefficiencies in the administration of DCPO's semiannual data collection effort; (4) the elimination of post-program impact questions from the data collection survey effort; and (5) the lack of use of the Drug Court Clearinghouse. Various administrative and research factors have also hampered DOJ's ability to complete the two-phase National Institute of Justice-sponsored national impact evaluation study. As a result, DOJ continues to lack vital information needed to determine the overall impact of federally funded programs and to assess whether drug court programs use federal funds effectively."
Date: April 18, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Defense Health Care: Oversight of the TRICARE Civilian Provider Network Should Be Improved

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Testifying before Congress in 2002, military beneficiary groups described problems accessing care from TRICARE's civilian medical providers. Providers also testified on their dissatisfaction with the TRICARE program, specifying low reimbursement rates and administrative burdens. The Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act of 2003 required GAO to review the oversight of the TRICARE network of civilian providers. Specifically, GAO describes how the Department of Defense (DOD) oversees the adequacy of the civilian provider network, evaluates DOD's oversight of the civilian provider network, and describes the factors that have been reported to contribute to network inadequacy. GAO analyzed TRICARE Prime--the managed care component of TRICARE. To describe and evaluate DOD's oversight, GAO reviewed and analyzed information from reports on network adequacy and interviewed DOD and contractor officials in 5 of 11 TRICARE regions."
Date: July 31, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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