Computerized matching of data from two or more information systems is one method of data analysis that can assist in detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs, and it is commonly used to help identify improper payments in federal benefit programs and activities. However, computer matching may also pose privacy risks to individuals. To ensure that federal agency computer matching programs protect individuals' privacy rights, from 1988 through 1990 Congress enacted amendments to the Privacy Act of 1974 (the "Computer Matching Act").
The GAO was asked to review issues relating to computer matching. This report examines (1) agencies' responsibilities under the Computer Matching Act, (2) how selected agencies are implementing the Act with regard to federal benefits programs, and (3) the views of officials at selected agencies on the process of developing and implementing computer matching agreements.