IT weaknesses hinder Interior's management of trust accounts, ALMRS

Problems with systems for managing American Indian trust accounts and for tracking records on land leases and mineral rights are the core technology issues hindering better management at the Interior Department, according to a General Accounting Office report released last month.

Inadequate accounting, information systems weaknesses and poor record-keeping make the management of $3 billion in American Indian funds more difficult, GAO reported. "Because many of the needed improvements [in trust fund management] center on information technology, adhering to legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Clinger-Cohen Act and the Office of Management and Budget's guidance for major information technology investments, is critical," according to the report, which was released as part of a GAO series on "Major Management Challenges and Program Risks" at federal agencies.

The report also targets Interior's Automated Land and Mineral Records System, which department officials originally pegged as costing $403 million. Cost estimates for ALMRS have ballooned to more than $530 million, however, and project deadlines have slipped, according to the report. The delays put Interior at risk for the Year 2000 problem because ALMRS will replace some computer systems that are susceptible to the problem.

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