Education gets low grade for Y2K, integration

The Year 2000 problem and a lack of integrated computer systems pose the greatest technology-related management challenges at the Education Department, according to a General Accounting Office report released last month.

The lack of integration among computer systems means that program managers at Education do not have accurate and timely data on participants in federal student-aid programs, according to the report. The report was released as part of a GAO series on "Major Management Challenges and Program Risks" at federal agencies.

"Federal student financial aid programs remain vulnerable to losses because the department, guaranty agencies, schools and lenders often do not have the accurate, complete and timely information on program participants needed to effectively and efficiently operate and manage the programs," the report states. "These difficulties stem from the lack of a fully functional integrated database covering all department-administered financial aid programs."

Separate databases emerged over the years as new and separate aid programs developed at the department, according to the report. The Higher Education Amendments of 1992, however, required the department to integrate its databases containing student financial aid information.

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