oversight

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Education

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-01-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            Performance and Accountability Series




January 2003
               Major Management
               Challenges and
               Program Risks
               Department of
               Education




GAO-03-99
               a
A Glance at the Agency Covered in This Report
The Department of Education’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and
to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. To accomplish this
mission, the department funds programs in the following areas:
●       preschool education;
●       elementary and secondary education;
●       special education and rehabilitative services;
●       vocational and adult education;
●       student financial assistance;
●       higher education; and
●       education research, statistics, and assessment.


The Department of Education’s Budgetary and Staff Resources


Budgetary Resources a, b                                             Staff Resources b
Dollars in billions                                                  FTEs in thousands

80                                                                     6
                                                  64                                                      4.6         4.7
                                                                                      4.5       4.6
                                                                             4.5
60                                     56                            4.5
                            47

40        39        39                                                 3



20                                                                   1.5


    0                                                                  0
         1998     1999     2000      2001         2002                      1998      1999     2000      2001         2002
          Fiscal year                                                       Fiscal year
Source: Budget of the United States Government.

a
    Budgetary resources include new budget authority (BA) and unobligated balances of previous BA.
b Budget and staff resources are actuals for FY 1998-2001. FY 2002 are estimates from the FY 2003 budget, which
    are the latest publicly available figures on a consistent basis as of January 2003. Actuals for FY 2002 will be
    contained in the President’s FY 2004 budget to be released in February 2003.




This Series
This report is part of a special GAO series, first issued in 1999 and updated in
2001, entitled the Performance and Accountability Series: Major Management
Challenges and Program Risks. The 2003 Performance and Accountability Series
contains separate reports covering each cabinet department, most major
independent agencies, and the U.S. Postal Service. The series also includes a
governmentwide perspective on transforming the way the government does
business in order to meet 21st century challenges and address long-term fiscal
needs. The companion 2003 High-Risk Series: An Update identifies areas at high risk
due to either their greater vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, abuse, and
mismanagement or major challenges associated with their economy, efficiency, or
effectiveness. A list of all of the reports in this series is included at the end of
this report.
                                                    January 2003


                                                    PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY SERIES

                                                    Department of Education
 Highlights of GAO-03-99, a report to
 Congress included as part of GAO’s
 Performance and Accountability Series




In its 2001 performance and                         Education has taken steps to address its continuing challenges of reducing
accountability report on the                        vulnerabilities in its student aid programs and improving its financial
Department of Education, GAO                        management, such as establishing a senior management team to address key
identified challenges with student                  issues. Meaningful actions are underway, but Education does not yet have
financial aid programs, financial                   the relevant, reliable, and timely information needed to effectively manage
management, and other areas
facing Education. The information
                                                    these programs, and as a result the student aid programs continue to be at
GAO presents in this report is                      high risk.
intended to help sustain
congressional attention and a                       •   Reduce vulnerability of student aid programs to fraud, waste,
departmental focus on continuing                        abuse, and mismanagement. Education has made considerable
to make progress in addressing and                      changes to address the ongoing challenges in administering its student
overcoming these challenges and                         aid programs. However, Education needs to continue to address
new challenges that have arisen                         systems integration issues, reduce fraud and error in student aid
due to legislative changes since                        application and disbursement processes, collect on student loan
2001. This report is part of a                          defaults, and improve its human capital management.
special series of reports on
governmentwide and agency-
specific issues.                                    •   Improve financial management. Education has implemented many
                                                        actions to address its financial management weaknesses, but it is too
                                                        early to determine if these actions will be effective. It will need to
                                                        continue implementing corrective actions in order to resolve its financial
                                                        management and internal control weaknesses.
GAO believes the Department
should                                              Education will face new management challenges as it helps states and
                                                    school districts meet the goals and requirements of the No Child Left Behind
•    continue efforts to reduce                     Act (NCLBA). Implementation of the law has just begun, therefore it is too
     vulnerability in student                       early to assess Education’s progress.
     financial aid programs,

•    continue implementation of                     •   Improve student achievement and teacher quality. Under NCLBA
     actions to address financial                       there is an increased emphasis on improving student achievement and
     management and internal                            the quality of teachers. Education will need to monitor states’ and
     control weaknesses,                                school districts’ efforts to have students meet challenging academic
                                                        standards and ensure that all teachers meet standards outlined in
•    assist and monitor states and                      NCLBA.
     school districts’ efforts to meet
     requirements of NCLBA, and                     •   Transform education into an evidence-based field. Education
                                                        promotes and sponsors many types of research but has conducted and
•    ensure that research it                            funded limited research on the effectiveness of some of its programs.
     conducts and funds is rigorous
                                                        Education will need to develop and enforce rigorous standards for
     and relevant.
                                                        research projects it conducts and funds.

                                                    •   Link federal funding to accountability for results. Education will
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-99.                   need to help states meet the increased assessment and accountability
                                                        requirements of NCLBA. This will be a challenge because a majority of
To view the full report, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Cynthia M.                states had difficulty complying with previous requirements and there are
Fagnoni at (202) 512-7215 or                            questions about the completeness and accuracy of some of the
fagnonic@gao.gov.                                       assessment data.
Contents



Transmittal Letter                                                                                                    1


Major Performance                                                                                                     2

and Accountability
Challenges

GAO Contacts                                                                                                         25


Related GAO Products                                                                                                 26


Performance and                                                                                                      29
Accountability and
High-Risk Series




                           This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
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                           Permission from the copyright holder may be necessary should you wish to reproduce
                           copyrighted materials separately from GAO’s product.

                       


                       Page i                                                       GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
                                                                                           Comptroller General
                                                                                           of the United States




           January 2003                                                                                            T
                                                                                                                   ransmL
                                                                                                                        ta
                                                                                                                         ileter




           The President of the Senate
           The Speaker of the House of Representatives

           This report addresses the major management challenges and program risks facing the Department of
           Education as it seeks to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence
           throughout the nation. The report discusses the actions that Education has taken and that are under
           way to address the challenges GAO identified in its Performance and Accountability Series 2 years
           ago, and major legislative events that have occurred that significantly influence the environment in
           which the department carries out its mission. Also, GAO summarizes the challenges that remain, new
           ones that have emerged, and further actions that GAO believes are needed.

           This analysis should help the new Congress and the administration carry out their responsibilities and
           improve government for the benefit of the American people. For additional information about this
           report, please contact Cynthia M. Fagnoni, Managing Director, Education, Workforce and Income
           Security, at (202) 512-7215 or at fagnonic@gao.gov.




           David M. Walker
           Comptroller General
           of the United States




                                     Page 1                                           GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges

              In our last update in 2001,1 we identified several management challenges
              the Department of Education faced in administering its programs at the
              elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. These included
              (1) ensuring access to postsecondary education while reducing
              vulnerability of student aid programs to fraud, waste, abuse, and
              mismanagement; (2) encouraging states to improve performance
              information and upgrade federal evaluations used to assess how well all
              children reach challenging academic standards; (3) promoting
              coordination with other federal agencies and school districts to help build a
              solid foundation of learning for all children; and (4) improving financial
              management to help build a high performing agency. We also continued to
              designate Education’s student financial aid programs at high risk for fraud,
              waste, abuse, or mismanagement.

              Since 2001, legislative changes and world events have significantly altered
              the environment in which Education operates, particularly at the
              elementary and secondary level. In 2002, Congress enacted the No Child
              Left Behind Act (NCLBA)2 to address concerns about student performance
              and the quality of elementary and secondary schools. This act includes
              significant changes in federal education policy and places additional
              requirements on states, beyond those in the Elementary and Secondary
              Education Act (ESEA) reauthorized in 1994. It includes reforms designed
              to increase accountability, provide choices to students in low-performing
              schools, ensure that all teachers are highly qualified, and promote the use
              of scientifically based research. For many of the NCLBA requirements,
              Education will need to help states and local school districts implement
              them. In addition to the NCLBA, the terrorist attacks of September 11th
              affected the educational environment. The attacks underscored the
              concerns about students’ safety while at school and raised concerns about
              efforts to monitor foreign students attending schools in the United States.
              Furthermore, the attacks required educators to develop approaches and
              methods to help students understand the events.

              In 2003, Education will continue to face management challenges in
              administering its student financial aid programs and its financial
              management. Education has made progress and demonstrated its


              1
                U.S. General Accounting Office, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:
              Department of Education, GAO-01-245 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 2001).
              2
                  P. L. 107-110 (Jan. 8, 2002).




              Page 2                                                GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




commitment to addressing weaknesses in the student financial aid
programs, but it does not yet have relevant, reliable, and timely financial
and management information needed to effectively administer its grant and
loan programs and the internal controls needed to maintain the integrity of
their operations. Therefore, these programs continue to be at high risk for
fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. Education has also taken steps
to address its financial management weaknesses, but further improvement
is needed in order to ensure accountability to taxpayers.

Also, in 2003, Education will need to help states and school districts meet
the goals and requirements of NCLBA. Although implementation of
NCLBA is just beginning and it is too early to assess Education’s progress,
we have identified several new challenges based on Education’s goals that
it will face. These challenges are (1) improving student achievement in
reading, math, and science and improving teacher quality; (2) transforming
education into an evidence-based field by helping to raise the quality and
relevance of research; and (3) creating a culture of achievement by linking
federal funding to accountability for results. Two of the challenges,
improving student achievement and teacher quality and helping raise the
quality and relevance of education research, were previously reported in
2001 as one single issue—improve performance information and upgrade
federal evaluations. Because NCLBA places greater importance on these
issues and Education has identified them separately as strategic goals, we
too have separately identified them as challenges. The third challenge—
linking federal funding to accountability for results—is new and reflects
the emphasis that NCLBA has placed on accountability at the federal, state,
and local levels. Further, one challenge identified in 2001—promoting
coordination with other federal agencies and school and local agencies—
has been dropped because Education has made improvements in this area.




Page 3                                          GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                         Major Performance and Accountability
                         Challenges




                         In summary, the specific major management challenges that Education
                         continues to face and new challenges it is just beginning to face are as
                         follows:




                              Performance and
                              Accountability Challenges
                                  Ensure access to postsecondary education while reducing vulnerability of
                                  student aid programs to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement

                                  Improve financial management to help build a high-performing agency

                                  Improve student achievement in reading, mathematics, and science and
                                  improve quality of teachers

                                  Transform education into an evidence-based field and help to raise the quality
                                  and relevance of research

                                  Create a culture of achievement by linking federal funding to accountability for
                                  results




Ensure Access to         At the postsecondary level, Education has continued to help students
                         finance their education, but faces continued challenges in preventing fraud,
Postsecondary            waste, abuse, and mismanagement. Through federal grant and loan
Education While          programs, millions of students, some of whom might not otherwise have
                         access to higher education, have been able to enroll in postsecondary
Reducing Vulnerability   educational programs of their choice. These grant and loan programs
of Student Aid           provide over $50 billion annually in student aid. Education is responsible
Programs to Fraud,       for ensuring that these programs are efficiently managed, establishing
                         procedures to ensure that loans are repaid, and having adequate
Waste, Abuse, and        procedures to prevent fraud and abuse. Since 1990 we have identified these
Mismanagement            programs to be at high risk for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.
                         To address these vulnerabilities, Education faces continuing challenges in
                         addressing financial aid systems integration issues, reducing fraud and



                         Page 4                                                       GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




error in the student aid application and disbursement processes, collecting
on defaulted student loans, and improving its human capital management.

Both Congress and Education have made changes to address the ongoing
management challenges in administering the student financial aid
programs. To address vulnerabilities in federal student aid programs and
other long-standing management weaknesses, Congress established
Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA)3 as a performance-based
organization (PBO) in 1998. The specific purposes of the PBO are to
increase accountability of officials; provide greater flexibility in
management; integrate information systems; reduce costs; and develop and
maintain a system containing complete, accurate, and timely data to ensure
program integrity. FSA is also required to develop an annual 5-year
performance plan and to prepare an annual performance report. FSA
completed a performance plan for fiscal years 2000-04. However, the
performance report for fiscal years 2000 and 2001 were not issued until
December 2002. We have recommended that FSA and Education work
collaboratively to take the steps necessary to ensure that complete and
timely annual performance reports are submitted to Congress.

Since our last update in 2001, Education has made progress in and
demonstrated its commitment to addressing the issues that have made
student financial aid programs vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and
mismanagement. Education established a Management Improvement
Team (MIT) comprised of senior-level managers within Education to
formulate strategies to address key financial and management problems
throughout the agency. The MIT has developed a system to identify, track,
and resolve audit and management issues both agencywide and within the
student financial aid programs. According to the MIT Accomplishments
Report, it has undertaken several initiatives to improve the weaknesses in
these programs. One initiative has resulted in collecting $269 million in
fiscal year 2002 by locating defaulted borrowers and matching them with
the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Directory of New
Hires database. Despite this commitment, Education does not yet have
relevant, reliable, and timely financial and management information
essential to effectively manage these programs and the internal controls to
maintain the integrity of their operations.



3
  Financial aid programs are administered by an office previously known as the Office of
Student Financial Assistance (SFA).




Page 5                                                    GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




While Education has taken steps to address some of its long-standing
systems integration issues, critical work remains. Over the years Education
has spent millions to integrate and modernize its many financial aid
systems in an effort to provide more information and better service to its
customers—students, parents, institutions, and lenders. Effectively and
efficiently investing in information technology requires, among other
things, an institutional blueprint that defines in both business and
technology terms the organization’s current and target operating
environments and provides a transition roadmap. This institutional
blueprint, commonly called an enterprise architecture, is a recognized
hallmark of successful public and private sector organizations. Because
Education did not have an enterprise architecture and it lacked the ability
to track students across programs, we recommended in 1997 that
Education develop and enforce a departmentwide architecture and
establish standard reporting formats and data definitions.4 In September
2002, Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that
Education and FSA had made progress in taking specific actions to lay the
groundwork for their enterprise architectures, but that critical elements
still needed to be completed, including integrating separate enterprise
architectures into a departmentwide one and fully implementing common
identifiers for students and institutions to use in departmentwide system
applications.




4
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Student Financial Aid Information: Systems
Architecture Needed to Improve Programs' Efficiency, AIMD-97-122 (Washington, D.C.:
July 29, 1997).




Page 6                                                 GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




With respect to FSA’s modernization plans, we have reported that FSA has
selected a viable, industry-accepted means for integrating and using its
existing data on student loans and grants.5 FSA has made progress in
implementing this approach for one of its major business functions—the
Common Origination and Disbursement process, which includes the
implementation of a common record that institutions can use to submit
student financial aid for the Pell Grant and Direct Loan programs. However,
the ultimate success of this process hinges on FSA completing critical
work, including addressing serious postimplementation operational
problems, and helping thousands of schools in the implementation of the
common record. Further, there are important elements to managing any
information technology investment that FSA has not yet completed, such
as determining whether expected benefits are being achieved and tracking
lessons learned related to schools implementation of the common record.
We have recommended that FSA expeditiously develop metrics, baseline
data, and a tracking process for certain expected benefits; and develop and
implement a process for continuously capturing and disseminating lessons
learned in a written product or knowledge base to schools that have not yet
implemented the common record. 6 FSA has begun to take actions on both
of these issues although more work remains. While FSA has made progress
integrating its systems, both we and Education’s OIG have found that
neither its performance plan nor its subsequent annual reports readily
provide information about its progress in integrating systems. We have
recommended that FSA develop and include clear goals, strategies, and
measures in its plans and reports to better demonstrate its progress in
integrating its financial aid systems.7 In response to this recommendation,
Education plans to revise FSA’s performance plan to establish measurable
goals and milestones for systems integration efforts in order to provide
direction to FSA and enhance its accountability.




5
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Student Financial Aid: Use of Middleware for Systems
Integration Holds Promise, GAO-02-7 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 30, 2001).
6
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Federal Student Aid: Progress Made in Implementing the
Common Origination and Disbursement Process, but Critical Work Remains, GAO-03-241
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 31, 2002).
7
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Federal Student Aid: Additional Management
Improvements Would Clarify Strategic Direction and Enhance Accountability, GAO-02-
255 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 30, 2002).




Page 7                                                  GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




Education also faces challenges in maintaining program integrity,
specifically ensuring that information reported on student aid applications
is correct and that adequate internal controls exist to prevent erroneous
and improper payments of grants and loans. To improve the integrity of the
financial aid programs, Education should (1) continue to coordinate with
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify income information reported
on student aid applications, (2) provide clear policy and guidance on the
impact of using tax provisions on student aid awards, and (3) implement
controls to limit improper disbursements of grants and loans. In 2001, we
reported that Education and IRS were implementing two pilot projects to
match income data reported on student aid applications with IRS tax
returns.8 Education has performed two sample income matches with IRS
and verifies income information by asking 30 percent of applicants to
provide copies of their tax returns to their institutions’ student financial aid
offices. To implement the income match on a broader scale, legislation is
needed to authorize IRS to release individual income data to Education for
the purpose of verifying income on student aid applications. Education has
worked with the Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) to request that Congress enact such legislation. Also,
we recommended that Education develop a policy specifying whether
certain tax provisions should be included in the student aid eligibility
formulas and clearly explain in its student aid application instructions who
should report ownership of assets in higher education tax-preferred
savings plans.9 Education agreed with this recommendation and stated
that it will use the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to
review the ways in which students pay for college and the student aid
eligibility formulas. Finally, we identified weaknesses in the internal
control process used by Education to identify institutions that were
disbursing grants and loans to ineligible students. Education has taken
steps to strengthen the integrity of these payment processes, such as
analyzing student data to identify high concentrations of students over 65
and eligible noncitizens at a single institution to determine if problems
exist that warrant further review. These actions are encouraging and if
properly implemented should help to improve internal controls over these
vulnerable payments.



8
    GAO-01-245, 18.
9
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Student Aid and Tax Benefits: Better Research and
Guidance Will Facilitate Comparison of Effectiveness and Student Use, GAO-02-751
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 13, 2002).




Page 8                                                   GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




A continuing challenge for Education and FSA is to prevent and collect
defaulted student loans. While the national student loan default rate has
decreased significantly from 11.6 percent in fiscal year 1993 to 5.9 percent
in fiscal year 2000, the cumulative amount of defaulted student loans has
increased by almost $10 billion over the same time period.10 (See fig. 1.)



Figure 1: Amount of Student Loan Dollars in Default Remain High
30 Nominal dollars in billions



25



20



15



10



 5



 0
       1993         1994           1995   1996   1997    1998      1999       2000      2001
      Fiscal year
Source: Department of Education.

Note: Balances include principal, interest, late fees, and administrative charges for defaulted loans
under both the Federal Family Education Loan and Federal Direct Loan Programs.




10
     Some default principal amounts have been recovered through subsequent collections.




Page 9                                                             GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




To address its challenges with defaulted student loans, Education and FSA
have implemented several default management strategies, established
electronic debiting as a repayment option, and entered into agreements11
with some guaranty agencies to set up alternative processes to service and
process claims for defaulted loans. FSA’s draft fiscal year 2002
performance plan specified the goals it had for default management;
however, it included only limited information about the strategies to
achieve those goals. Without giving additional details on its strategies for
default recovery and prevention, it is not clear how FSA will determine
whether it has achieved its default management goals. We are reviewing
the status of FSA’s default management goals and will report the results in
February 2003. Education has also developed electronic debiting as an
option for students to repay their loans. We have recommended that
Education take added steps to increase borrowers’ awareness of this
option and that Education modify the electronic debit applications, so that
borrowers interested in prepaying their loans can designate larger
withdrawal amounts than what they agreed to pay when they initially
completed the application.12 In response to our recommendation,
Education will consider taking steps to better inform borrowers of their
prepayment options, such as updating the Exit Counseling Guide for
Borrowers. Finally, while Education has set up voluntary flexible
agreements with four of its guaranty agencies, it is in the process of
assessing whether they have been successful in lowering default and
delinquency rates.




11
  A voluntary flexible agreement provides guaranty agencies flexibility to implement new
business practices by waiving or modifying some of the requirements established under
federal statutes that apply to other guaranty agencies.
12
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Direct Student Loans: Additional Steps Would Increase
Borrowers’ Awareness of Electronic Debiting and Reduce Federal Administrative Costs,
GAO-02-350 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 2002).




Page 10                                                   GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                     Major Performance and Accountability
                     Challenges




                     Like other federal agencies, Education must address serious human capital
                     management issues. About 34 percent of Education’s career staff is eligible
                     to retire, and about 38 percent of the workforce within FSA was eligible to
                     retire in September 2001. Given the critical importance of human capital
                     management, we recommended in June 2001 that Education develop and
                     include specific human capital goals and measures in its performance
                     plans.13 In response to our recommendation, Education added a specific
                     objective to its strategic plan. We also recommended that FSA develop and
                     implement a comprehensive human capital strategy that incorporates
                     succession planning and addresses staff development.14 FSA has several
                     human capital initiatives, including ones that address recruitment and
                     performance evaluation. Moreover, in 2002 Education issued a
                     comprehensive, 5-year human capital plan that also incorporates FSA. The
                     plan, entitled One-ED, aims to transform the agency into a flexible, high-
                     performing workplace focused on program outcomes and management
                     reforms. Also, the One-ED report identifies four critical areas in which
                     improvements should be made: (1) top leadership commitment,
                     (2) performance management, (3) workforce skills enhancement, and
                     (4) leadership and succession planning. The report outlines specific steps
                     and time frames for accomplishing tasks to improve its human capital
                     management in these critical areas. For example, to address the lack of
                     succession planning, Education has identified a model for identifying,
                     mentoring, and developing leaders and potential leaders on the basis of
                     performance and skills and plans to implement this model by the end of the
                     2002-03 performance cycle. While these are important steps, Education
                     will need to continuously focus its attention on human capital.



Improve Financial    Weaknesses in Education’s financial management and information systems
                     limit its ability to achieve one of its key goals—improving financial
Management to Help   management to help build a high-performing agency. With the exception of
Build a High-        1997, Education has not received an unqualified—or “clean”—opinion on
                     its financial statements since its first agencywide audit in 1995.
Performing Agency    Education’s fiscal years 2001 and 2000 financial statement audit opinions
                     were “qualified” because Education could not provide the auditors with


                     13
                       U.S. General Accounting Office, Department of Education: Status of Achieving Key
                     Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges, GAO-01-827 (Washington, DC:
                     June 29, 2001).
                     14
                          GAO-02-255, 26.




                     Page 11                                              GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




sufficient evidence to support revisions to amounts in previously issued
financial statements and certain amounts in the fiscal years 2001 and 2000
financial statements. Education’s auditors also reported significant
internal control weaknesses. These weaknesses hamper its ability to
generate reliable, useful, and timely information on an ongoing basis to
ensure accountability to taxpayers. Although Education has implemented
many actions in response to its financial management weaknesses, it is too
soon to determine if the changes made will prove effective.

Education faces continuing challenges as it works to obtain an unqualified
audit opinion on its financial statements. Beginning with its first
agencywide audit in 1995 and continuing through 2001, Education’s
auditors have repeatedly identified significant financial management
weaknesses. They also issued qualified opinions on its fiscal years 2001
and 2000 financial statements. For both years Education was unable to
provide the auditors with sufficient evidence, and the auditors were not
able to otherwise satisfy themselves as to the accuracy or completeness of
certain amounts included in the financial statements. These insufficiently
explained or supported items included (1) corrections of over $1 billion in
fiscal years 2001 and 2000 to amounts previously reported in the fiscal
years 2000 and 1999 financial statements and (2) over $1.5 billion of assets
and liabilities reported in the fiscal years 2001 and 2000 financial
statements. These problems, in part, result from inadequate internal
controls over Education’s financial management systems and financial
reporting process and other areas as described in the following paragraphs.

Weaknesses in Education’s financial management systems and financial
reporting process present another challenge. For fiscal years 2001 and
2000, Education’s auditors again reported issues relating to financial
management systems and financial reporting as a material internal control
weakness. This broad control weakness has been defined to include
elements relating to (1) the absence of a fully integrated financial
management system; (2) deficiencies in the general ledger system that
require extensive analysis of accounts to resolve errors by manual
adjustments; (3) the need for a rigorous review of interim financial
statements for timely identification and correction of errors; (4) the
inability to accumulate, analyze, and present reliable financial information
in the form of financial statements; (5) the dependence on a variety of
stopgap measures to prepare financial statements; (6) the insufficiency of
control activities, such as top-level reviews to address and to seek to
compensate for systemic control weaknesses; and (7) the need for a review
to identify and quantify improper payments.



Page 12                                          GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




Education has taken some steps to address these issues. For fiscal years
2001 and 2000, auditors reported improvements in the financial reporting
process. For example, during 2001 Education’s MIT developed specific
actions to address issues raised in previous financial statement audits.
According to the MIT Accomplishments Report, Education began
performing certain critical reconciliations on a monthly basis and began
preparing interim financial statements, which helped identify areas needing
further study. In addition, Education replaced its general ledger system.
Although these are positive steps, it is too early to determine what impact
these changes will have on the financial reporting process, including the
timely preparation of auditable financial statements. Timely preparation of
the statements will be an additional challenge as OMB implements
accelerated financial reporting deadlines that require Education to produce
audited financial statements within 4 months after the end of the fiscal year
beginning with 2002, and within 1.5 months after the end of the fiscal year
beginning in 2004. To meet these deadlines, Education will need more than
workaround solutions and temporary fixes to address surface conditions
that are the result of underlying core causes.

Education needs to take further action to reduce its vulnerability to
improper payments and lost assets. We reported that for May 1998 through
September 2000, weak internal controls over (1) the grants and loan
disbursement process failed to detect certain improper payments; (2) third
party draft processes increased Education’s vulnerability to improper
payments; and (3) government purchase cards resulted in some fraudulent,
improper, and questionable purchases. 15 We also reported that Education
lacked adequate internal controls over computers acquired with purchase
cards and third party drafts. Among other things, we found that computer
purchases valued at almost $400,000 were not recorded in Education’s
property records, and $200,000 of that computer equipment could not be
located. Auditors also reported that internal controls need strengthening in
numerous areas relating to Education’s investment of over $30 million in
property and equipment. These areas include the need to (1) improve the
timeliness of its physical inventory and the reconciliation of such
inventories to the books and records; (2) improve the controls over
government owned property in the hands of contractors; (3) reconcile
amounts in detailed property records to support amounts reported in


15
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Education Financial Management: Weak Internal
Controls Led to Instances of Fraud and Other Improper Payments, GAO-02-406
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2002).




Page 13                                               GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




financial statements; and (4) improve standardized polices and procedures
for the receipt, tracking, and safeguarding of property and equipment.
Improvements in these areas are important to ensure proper safeguarding
of government assets.

In response to our report of significant internal control weaknesses in
Education’s payment processes, government purchase cards, and poor
physical control over its computer assets, several changes were made to
policies and procedures to improve internal controls and program integrity.
These changes are positive steps, but in many cases, our follow-up work
indicated that they had not been effectively implemented. In March 2002,
we reported that vulnerabilities remain in all areas we reviewed, except for
third party drafts, which have been discontinued.16 Until these issues are
fully addressed, Education will continue to be susceptible to improper
payments and lost assets.

Finally, Education will need to continue its actions in addressing
weaknesses in its information systems. For fiscal years 2001 and 2000
Education’s auditors reported that they did not substantially comply with
the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) of 1996.
FFMIA requires agencies to institute financial management systems that
substantially comply with federal financial management systems
requirements, applicable accounting standards, and the federal
government’s Standard General Ledger. Auditors reported that without a
fully integrated financial management system, deficiencies in the general
ledger system, deficiencies in the manual adjustment process, and the need
to strengthen other financial management controls such as reconciliation
processes, impairs Education’s ability to accumulate, analyze, and present
reliable financial information. Education also needs to address identified
control weaknesses in its service continuity program. These reported
weaknesses included the need for (1) a departmentwide, risk-based
information security plan; (2) strengthened controls over critical financial
and sensitive grant information to prevent unauthorized access and
disclosure; and (3) an overall information technology security program. In
September 2001 we reported that Education had made progress in
correcting certain information system control weaknesses.17 However, we


16
     GAO-02-406, 2.
17
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Education Information Security: Improvements Made,
but Control Weaknesses Remain, GAO-01-1067 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 12, 2001).




Page 14                                               GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                        Major Performance and Accountability
                        Challenges




                        identified weaknesses in information systems that place critical financial
                        and sensitive grant information at risk of unauthorized access and
                        disclosure, and key operations at risk of disruption. We recommended that
                        Education (1) correct the information system control weaknesses related
                        to access authority, system software, network security, user identification
                        and password management, access monitoring, physical access,
                        segregation of duties, application program changes, and service continuity;
                        and (2) fully implement a comprehensive departmentwide computer
                        security management program. In response to our recommendations,
                        Education stated that it had developed a corrective action plan and is
                        taking steps to further strengthen and develop a more comprehensive
                        information security program.



Improve Student         Educating children at the elementary and secondary level is a high priority
                        in our society; however, there have been many concerns expressed about
Achievement in          the academic performance of our students. Various studies have indicated
Reading, Mathematics,   that one of the key components to improving student performance is the
                        presence of qualified teachers. However, many school districts have not
and Science and         been able to attract and retain qualified teachers. To address concerns
Improve Quality of      about student achievement, the federal investment in elementary and
Teachers                secondary education has increased significantly from over $20 billion in
                        fiscal year 2000 to nearly $30 billion in fiscal year 2002. This increased
                        investment is accompanied by an increased emphasis on accountability in
                        NCLBA for schools to raise achievement levels for all students—including
                        those from poor families, with limited English proficiency, and with
                        disabilities. Education will be faced with the challenge of helping states
                        improve student achievement in reading, mathematics, and science and
                        improve teacher quality. Although implementation of NCLBA has just
                        begun, Education will need to monitor states’ and school districts’ efforts
                        to meet the goals established by NCLBA.




                        Page 15                                         GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




One goal of NCLBA is to improve the academic achievement among
students from poor families. Title I is the largest federal program
supporting elementary and secondary education and is an important source
of funding for many high poverty schools and districts. NCLBA increased
funding for Title I by $1.7 billion from $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2001 to
$10.3 billion in fiscal year 2002. Title I funds are a key element in helping
states and school districts meet the NCLBA goal of improving academic
achievement among students from poor families. We reported in January
2002 that using a less restrictive hold-harmless provision would reduce
variation in funding among school districts with similar numbers and
percentages of poor children and would allocate more funding to states
with more rapidly growing numbers of poor children.18 NCLBA revised the
hold-harmless provisions to reallocate some grants to be more reflective of
the number of poor children in the school district. Education’s challenge
will be to monitor states’ use of these funds and determine whether the
funds are reaching students in high poverty districts and whether the funds
are helping students from poor families improve.

Based on new requirements in NCLBA, Education will need to help states
and school districts improve achievement among students with limited
English proficiency and students with disabilities. In May 2001 we reported
that Education’s four bilingual education programs were designed to
achieve the same overall objective and that consolidating them into one
single program would provide Education the flexibility to meet the varied
needs of school districts serving students with limited English
proficiency.19 NCLBA offers a new, single grant program to address the
needs of students with limited English proficiency and requires that these
students be tested for reading and language arts in English after they have
attended school in the United States for 3 consecutive years. To meet the
challenge of educating students with limited English proficiency, school
districts have flexibility in the methods they use and states have flexibility
in how they measure proficiency. Education’s challenge will be to provide
enough information and assistance to ensure that states and school
districts, including those that had not previously participated in federal
bilingual education programs, are aware of the available program



18
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Title I Funding: Poor Children Benefit Though Funding
Per Poor Child Differs, GAO-02-242 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 2002).
19
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Bilingual Education: Four Overlapping Programs
Could Be Consolidated, GAO-01-657 (Washington, D.C.: May 14, 2001).




Page 16                                                 GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




flexibilities and to help states and school districts select program options
that best meet their needs.

To improve achievement of students with disabilities, Education will need
to continue to monitor special education programs authorized by the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Federal dollars are used
together with state, local, and private resources to help states provide a
comprehensive system of early intervention services to enhance the
development of infants and toddlers with disabilities or those who are at
risk of developmental delays. Additionally, federal funds are also used to
provide access to a high quality elementary and secondary education for
students with disabilities. While there is limited information available on
the long-term effectiveness of these programs, Education has a few studies
underway to collect information on the outcomes of children enrolled in
these programs. Education will need to continue these efforts in order to
help states and school districts measure achievements and progress of
students with disabilities.

Education will face many challenges in supporting the goal of improving
student achievement in reading, mathematics, and science, including
ensuring that educators are aware of and have access to current math and
science curriculum materials. Education has invested a significant amount
of money in mathematics and science education programs that support a
wide range of activities, including the development of curriculum
materials. Since other federal agencies also develop mathematics and
science materials, the National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science
Education was established within Education to serve as a central source of
information about these materials. We reported that most agencies did not
send copies of all their mathematics and science materials to the
clearinghouse.20 As a result, educators seeking to make informed decisions
about these materials do not have a comprehensive source available for
federally sponsored materials. We recommended in 2000 that Education
take steps to notify agencies that the law requires them to submit materials
to the Clearinghouse and to establish guidelines to follow in submitting the
materials. Furthermore, we recommended that Education inform agencies
that do not generally evaluate their educational materials about the
importance of these evaluations and about the mechanisms available for


20
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Math and Science Education: Comprehensive
Information About Federally Funded Materials Not Available, GAO-HEHS-00-110
(Washington, D.C.: July 12, 2000).




Page 17                                              GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




evaluating their materials. In June 2001, Education cosponsored a
workshop in which agency officials discussed with officials from other
federal agencies the requirement that they submit materials to the
clearinghouse as well as the principles and practices for evaluating
mathematics and science materials.

Education will face challenges helping states and school districts meet the
NCLBA requirements that all teachers have (1) a college degree, (2) been
certified to teach in their state, and (3) demonstrated adequate knowledge
in the subject area in which they are teaching by the 2005-06 school year.
To meet this challenge, Education will need to help states ensure that their
higher education institutions are adequately preparing students to become
teachers and that the programs states use to recruit teachers from other
professions are effective. Through teacher quality enhancement grants
authorized by Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA), Education
provides funds to states or partnerships between higher education
institutions and local school districts for activities to improve teaching in
their locality or state. It is too early to determine the grants’ effect on the
quality of teaching in the classroom; however, we have made some
recommendations to Education on improving its oversight of these grants.
Because of broadly defined accountability measures, information collected
as part of the accountability provisions has not allowed Education to
accurately report on the quality of teacher training programs and the
qualifications of current teachers in each state. We recommended that
Education address this concern by providing clear definitions of terms
associated with the collection of required information and allow sufficient
time for verification of information collected.21 Education has identified
three specific actions it has taken, or plans to take, that will improve the
quality of the data. These include (1) adding a goal to its strategic plan that
focuses on refining the Title II accountability system, (2) aligning the Title
II data collection system with teacher quality requirements under NCLBA
to reduce the burden on states in reporting data on teachers and their
qualifications, and (3) developing legislative proposals for Congress to
consider during the reauthorization of HEA.




21
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Higher Education: Activities Underway to Improve
Teacher Training, but Reporting on These Activities Could Be Enhanced, GAO-03-6
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 2002).




Page 18                                                GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                          Major Performance and Accountability
                          Challenges




                          In addition to grants authorized by HEA, Education administers many other
                          programs that support training for teachers. We reported in 1999 that the
                          number and diverse nature of these programs create challenges in
                          determining whether the programs are meeting the goals of providing
                          teachers with access to programs that will improve their teaching skills.22
                          NCLBA combines a couple of these teacher training programs into a single
                          grant program. Under the single grant, states and school districts are given
                          flexibility to select strategies that best meet their teacher training needs.
                          To meet the need for quality teachers, states have adopted alternative
                          programs for persons pursuing second careers as teachers, some as a result
                          of the success of the federally funded Troops to Teachers program. The
                          Troops to Teachers program recruits former military personnel and helps
                          them become certified and employed as teachers. As we reported, this
                          program has been successful in recruiting mathematics and science
                          teachers and teachers to inner city schools and high schools.23



Transform Education       Federal education programs will also be held accountable for
                          demonstrating results in terms of student outcomes, and Education will be
into an Evidence-Based    responsible for ensuring that the quality of research that it funds or
Field and Help to Raise   conducts meets the highest standards. Since Education promotes and
                          sponsors many types of research and disseminates much of this
the Quality and           information to interested states, school districts, and others, a primary
Relevance of Research     challenge will be to develop and enforce rigorous standards for research
                          projects. We reported in 2001 that Education has had trouble gathering
                          consistent information on federally funded elementary and secondary
                          programs because of the flexibility states and school districts have to
                          implement these programs.24 Nonetheless, Education has funded some
                          projects designed to measure the effectiveness of its programs. For
                          example, Education has supported research to examine the impact of Even
                          Start, a program designed to improve the educational outcomes for
                          disadvantaged children and their families. The study used an experimental
                          design in which groups of children were randomly assigned either to a
                          group that received program services or to a group that did not receive

                          22
                            U.S. General Accounting Office, Teacher Training: Over $1.5 Billion Federal Funds
                          Invested in Many Programs, HEHS-99-117 (Washington, D.C.: May 5, 1999).
                          23
                            U.S. General Accounting Office, Troops to Teachers: Program Helped Address Teacher
                          Shortages, GAO-01-567 (Washington, D.C.: May 25, 2001).
                          24
                               GAO-01-245, 20.




                          Page 19                                                 GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




program services. The study examined 18 local Even Start programs over a
6-year period and is expected to be completed in 2003. Furthermore,
Education has added to its strategic plan a goal to raise the quality of
research it funds or conducts and has included measures on the percent of
new evaluation projects it funds that use randomized experimental designs.
In October 2002 Congress passed the Education Sciences Reform Act,
which made significant changes to the structure of Education’s research
activities and sets standards to ensure that evaluations measure the
effectiveness of Education’s programs.

For some areas, such as dropout prevention and student financial aid
programs, Education has sponsored limited research on their effectiveness.
Education funds programs that provide grants to states and localities to
serve at-risk youth. These programs provide a range of services, including
dropout prevention services. Because dropout prevention is one of many
services provided in these programs, it is difficult to assess their effect on
preventing school dropouts. Furthermore, Education does not require
evaluations of these programs to include assessments of their effects on
dropout rates. We recommended in February 2002 that Education evaluate
the quality of existing dropout prevention research, determine how best to
encourage or sponsor rigorous evaluation of the most promising state and
local dropout prevention programs and practices, and determine the most
effective means of disseminating the results of these and other available
studies to state and local entities interested in reducing dropout rates. 25
Education has agreed that rigorous evidence is needed and said that it will
consider commissioning a systematic review of the literature on this topic.
Education has also sponsored limited research on the impact of federal
financial aid programs on student’s decisions to attend and complete
college, but instead has focused its studies on program delivery. We
recommended in September 2002 that Education sponsor research on the
impact of federal financial aid programs on postsecondary education
attendance and choice, completion, and costs.26 Education has agreed to
identify opportunities to fund research on how the federal investment
affects students’ postsecondary education attendance and completion and
institutions’ tuition and financial aid behavior.



25
  U.S. General Accounting Office, School Dropouts: Education Could Play a Stronger Role
in Identifying and Disseminating Promising Prevention Strategies, GAO-02-240
(Washington, D.C.: Feb. 1, 2002).
26
     GAO-02-751, 31.




Page 20                                                 GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




To help states and school districts meet the requirements of NCLBA,
Education could take steps to improve research on educational alternatives
for students. NCLBA provides choices for parents of students in low-
performing schools and allows states some flexibility in the type of choices
that they provide. Under NCLBA, parents of children in low-performing
schools have the option of transferring their child to a better performing
public school or a public charter school. Moreover, states can use federal
funds to establish public charter schools or to provide supplemental
educational services, such as private tutoring, to students in low-
performing schools. States and school districts may also use private
management companies to operate low-performing schools. Our review of
public schools managed by private for-profit management companies found
insufficient research on the effectiveness of these companies’ programs on
student achievement, parental satisfaction, parental involvement, or school
climate.27

In addition to choices within public schools, some parents have the option
of using publicly or privately funded vouchers to send their children to
private schools. Our reviews of both publicly and privately funded
vouchers have found that there is limited research on the effectiveness of
these programs. For example, we reported that research on students’
academic achievement in publicly funded voucher programs in Cleveland
and Milwaukee found little or no difference in voucher and public school
students’ overall academic performance, but some studies found that
voucher students performed better in some of the subject areas tested. 28
None of the findings is definitive because researchers obtained different
results when they used different methods to compensate for weaknesses in
the data. Moreover, we reported that the results of studies on privately
funded vouchers in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Dayton, Ohio,
suggest positive academic achievements for African American students in
New York.29 The programs examined were relatively small in scale;
therefore, the findings cannot be generalized beyond the specific programs
and geographic areas where they were conducted.

27
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Public Schools: Insufficient Research to Determine
Effectiveness of Selected Private Education Companies, GAO-03-11 (Washington, D.C.:
Oct. 29, 2002).
28
  U.S. General Accounting Office, School Vouchers: Publicly Funded Programs in
Cleveland and Milwaukee, GAO-01-914 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 31, 2001).
29
  U.S. General Accounting Office, School Vouchers: Characteristics of Privately Funded
Programs, GAO-02-752 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2002).




Page 21                                                 GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




Another step to raising the quality and relevance of education research is to
develop methods to effectively assess the usefulness of research funded by
various departments within Education. Education could improve the way
it evaluates research funded through its Research & Development Centers,
Regional Labs, and Comprehensive Centers.30 Peer review is well accepted
and widely used throughout the government to assess the merit of research
proposals and the scientific soundness of research. Education has used a
peer review process to assess its Research & Development Centers and
Regional Labs; however, the peer review process it used did not directly
assess research usefulness, outcomes, or effects. Moreover, Education’s
procedures for peer reviews had a potential for bias and were
cumbersome, which limited the usefulness of their findings. To address
these concerns, we have recommended that Education revise its peer
review standards to allow for division of labor and greater concentration
on assessing the quality of projects, services, and products rather than
reviewing procedural materials. Evaluations about the Comprehensive
Centers as a network provided useful information, but we recommended
that future evaluations provide information on each center. Education
agreed with these recommendations but did not provide specific
information on how it will proceed. In 2002, Congress passed new
legislation that includes a provision to conduct evaluations of each
Comprehensive Center.




30
  The Research & Development Centers, Regional Labs, and Comprehensive Centers share
responsibility with other programs created by Congress for education research, research-
based activities, and technical assistance.




Page 22                                                  GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                      Major Performance and Accountability
                      Challenges




Create a Culture of   The increased focus on assessment and accountability under NCLBA
                      presents significant challenges to Education, particularly since a majority
Achievement by        of states had difficulty meeting previous requirements. Education will
Linking Federal       need to help states implement NCLBA’s requirements and monitor their
                      progress. Although implementation of NCLBA has just begun, states were
Funding to            required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized
Accountability for    in 1994, to meet certain accountability and assessment standards. We
Results               reported that as of March 2002 a majority of states had not complied with
                      Title I requirements under the 1994 law; thus, many states may not be well
                      positioned to meet the deadlines for implementing the requirements under
                      NCLBA.31 Noncompliant states had most commonly not met two Title I
                      requirements—assessing all students and breaking out assessment data by
                      subcategories of students. While Title I did not permit states to exempt any
                      student subgroup from their assessments and Education’s guidance stated
                      that individual exemptions were permitted by the states only in
                      extraordinary circumstances, many states allowed substantial exemptions
                      for students with limited English proficiency and disabilities. Unlike the
                      1994 law, NCLBA requires schools to demonstrate progress in the academic
                      achievement of all students and report progress by race and ethnicity and
                      whether students are economically disadvantaged, have limited English
                      proficiency, or have disabilities. Education’s challenge will be to ensure
                      that states comply with the new standards and to hold them accountable
                      for results.




                      31
                       U.S. General Accounting Office, Title I: Education Needs to Monitor States’ Scoring of
                      Assessments, GAO-02-393 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 1, 2002).




                      Page 23                                                  GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Major Performance and Accountability
Challenges




Furthermore, Education will need to take steps to ensure that assessment
data are complete and accurate in order to reduce the potential for
undetected errors in test scoring that could affect decisions about schools
and students and damage confidence in test results. In April 2002, we
reported that almost all states had hired contractors to score Title I
assessments; however, 16 of these states reported that they did not monitor
the contractors’ work.32 Moreover, in several states, contractors made
scoring errors that in some cases resulted in students and schools being
erroneously identified as needing services and improvement. Because of
this finding, we recommended that Education use state compliance
reviews to monitor states’ oversight of their contractors. Education
reported that it plans to review states’ efforts to monitor the quality of
products delivered by their contractors and the procedures used by states
to ensure accuracy of the assessment data. In a joint audit with Education’s
OIG, two state audit agencies and one city audit agency, we assessed the
quality of accountability data used by states. As part of this effort OIG
reported on the quality of Title I performance data used to identify schools
in need of improvement in several states. OIG reported that Education
should strengthen its management controls to ensure that Title I school
improvement data are reliable and valid.33




32
     GAO-02-393, 3.
33
  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, Improving Title I Data
Integrity for Schools Identified for Improvement (Philadelphia, Pa.: Mar. 2002).




Page 24                                                  GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
GAO Contacts




               Subject(s) covered in this report            Contact person
               Ensure access to postsecondary education Cornelia Ashby, Director
               while reducing vulnerability of student aid Education, Workforce, and Income Security
               programs                                    (202) 512-7215
                                                           ashbyc@gao.gov
               Improve teacher preparation programs
               (funded through HEA)

               Transform education into an evidence-
               based field (higher education)
               Improve student achievement and improve      Marnie Shaul, Director
               quality of teachers                          Education, Workforce, and Income Security
                                                            (202) 512-7215
               Transform education into an evidence-        shaulm@gao.gov
               based field (K-12)

               Link federal funding to accountability for
               results
               Improve financial management                 Linda Calbom, Director
                                                            Financial Management and Assurance
                                                            (202) 512-9508
                                                            calboml@gao.gov




               Page 25                                                  GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Related GAO Products



Reduce Vulnerability of   Federal Student Aid: Progress Made in Implementing the Common
Student Aid Programs      Origination and Disbursement Process, but Critical Work Remains.
                          GAO-03-241. Washington, D.C.: December 31, 2002

                          Student Aid and Tax Benefits: Better Research & Guidance Will Facilitate
                          Comparison of Effectiveness and Student Use. GAO-02-751. Washington,
                          D.C.: September 13, 2002.

                          Federal Student Aid: Additional Management Improvements Would
                          Clarify Strategic Direction and Enhance Accountability. GAO-02-255.
                          Washington, D.C.: April 30, 2002.

                          Direct Student Loans: Additional Steps Would Increase Borrowers'
                          Awareness of Electronic Debiting and Reduce Federal Administrative
                          Costs. GAO-02-350. Washington, D.C.: March 29, 2002.

                          Federal Student Loans: Flexible Agreements with Guaranty Agencies
                          Warrant Careful Evaluation. GAO-02-254. Washington, D.C.: January 31,
                          2002.

                          Student Financial Aid: Use of Middleware for Systems Integration Holds
                          Promise. GAO-02-7. Washington, D.C.: November 30, 2001.

                          Department of Education: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and
                          Addressing Major Management Challenges. GAO-01-827. Washington,
                          D.C.: June 29, 2001.

                          Department of Education: Key Aspects of the Federal Direct Loan
                          Program's Cost Estimates. GAO-01-197. Washington, D.C.: January 12,
                          2001.

                          Student Financial Aid Information: Systems Architecture Needed to
                          Improve Programs’ Efficiency. AIMD-97-122. Washington, D.C.: July 29,
                          1997.



Improve Financial         Government Purchase Cards: Control Weaknesses Expose Agencies to
Management                Fraud and Abuse. GAO-02-676T. Washington, D.C.: May 1, 2002.




                          Page 26                                       GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                          Related GAO Products




                          Education Financial Management: Weak Internal Controls Led to
                          Instances of Fraud and Other Improper Payments. GAO-02-406.
                          Washington, D.C.: March 28, 2002.

                          Education Financial Management: Weak Internal Controls Led to
                          Instances of Fraud and Other Improper Payments. GAO-02-513T.
                          Washington, D.C.: April 10, 2002.

                          Financial Management: Poor Internal Controls Expose Department of
                          Education to Improper Payments. GAO-01-1151. Washington, D.C.:
                          September 28, 2001.

                          Education Information Security: Improvements Made, but Control
                          Weaknesses Remain. GAO-01-1067. Washington, D.C.: September 12, 2001.



Improve Student           Higher Education: Activities Underway to Improve Teacher Training,
Achievement and Teacher   but Reporting on These Activities Could Be Enhanced. GAO-03-6.
                          Washington, D.C.: December 11, 2002.
Quality
                          Special Education: Grant Programs Designed to Serve Children Ages 0-5.
                          GAO-02-394. Washington, D.C.: April 25, 2002.

                          Title I Funding: Poor Children Benefit Though Funding Per Poor Child
                          Differs. GAO-02-242. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2002.

                          Troops to Teachers: Program Helped Address Teacher Shortages.
                          GAO-01-567. Washington, D.C.: May 25, 2001.

                          Bilingual Education: Four Overlapping Programs Could Be
                          Consolidated. GAO-01-657. Washington, D.C.: May 14, 2001.

                          Public Education: Meeting the Needs of Students With Limited English
                          Proficiency. GAO-01-226. Washington, D.C.: February 23, 2001.

                          Math and Science Education: Comprehensive Information About
                          Federally Funded Materials Not Available. HEHS-00-110. Washington,
                          D.C.: July 12, 2000.

                          Teacher Training: Over $1.5 Billion Federal Funds Invested in Many
                          Programs. HEHS-99-117. Washington, D.C.: May 5, 1999.




                          Page 27                                      GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
                             Related GAO Products




Transform Education into     Public Schools: Insufficient Research to Determine Effectiveness of
an Evidence-Based Field      Selected Private Education Companies. GAO-03-11. Washington, D.C.:
                             October 29, 2002.

                             School Vouchers: Characteristics of Privately Funded Programs. GAO-02-
                             752. Washington, D.C.: September 10, 2002.

                             Head Start and Even Start: Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of
                             Adult Education & Literacy. GAO-02-348. Washington, D.C.: March 29,
                             2002.

                             School Dropouts: Education Could Play a Stronger Role in Identifying
                             and Disseminating Promising Prevention Strategies. GAO-02-240.
                             Washington, D.C.: February 1, 2002.

                             Education Research: Education Should Improve Assessment of R&D
                             Centers, Regional Labs, and Comprehensive Centers. GAO-02-190.
                             Washington, D.C.: January 24, 2002.

                             School Vouchers: Publicly Funded Programs in Cleveland & Milwaukee.
                             GAO-01-914. Washington, D.C.: August 31, 2001.

                             Early Childhood Programs: The Use of Impact Evaluations to Assess
                             Program Effects. GAO-01-542. Washington, D.C.: April 16, 2001.



Link Federal Funding to      Title I: Education Needs to Monitor States’ Scoring of Assessments.
Accountability for Results   GAO-02-393. Washington, D.C.: April 1, 2002.

                             Title I Program: Stronger Accountability Needed for Performance of
                             Disadvantaged Students. HEHS-00-89. Washington, D.C.: June 1, 2000.




                             Page 28                                        GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Performance and Accountability and High-
Risk Series

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: A Governmentwide
              Perspective. GAO-03-95.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Agriculture. GAO-03-96.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Commerce. GAO-03-97.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Defense. GAO-03-98.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Education. GAO-03-99.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Energy. GAO-03-100.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Health and Human Services. GAO-03-101.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Homeland Security. GAO-03-102.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Housing and Urban Development. GAO-03-103.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of the
              Interior. GAO-03-104.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Justice. GAO-03-105.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Labor. GAO-03-106.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of State.
              GAO-03-107.

              Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
              Transportation. GAO-03-108.




              Page 29                                    GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
Performance and Accountability and High-
Risk Series




Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of the
Treasury. GAO-03-109.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
Veterans Affairs. GAO-03-110.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Agency for
International Development. GAO-03-111.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Environmental
Protection Agency. GAO-03-112.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Federal Emergency
Management Agency. GAO-03-113.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: National
Aeronautics and Space Administration. GAO-03-114.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Office of Personnel
Management. GAO-03-115.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Small Business
Administration. GAO-03-116.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Social Security
Administration. GAO-03-117.

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Postal Service.
GAO-03-118.

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-03-119.

High-Risk Series: Strategic Human Capital Management. GAO-03-120.

High-Risk Series: Protecting Information Systems Supporting the
Federal Government and the Nation’s Critical Infrastructures.
GAO-03-121.

High-Risk Series: Federal Real Property. GAO-03-122.




Page 30                                      GAO-03-99 Education Challenges
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