S. 2756, the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1986

Gao ID: 130997 September 16, 1986

In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) discussed the state income and eligibility verification systems the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA) mandated; and (2) commented on S. 2756, the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1986. GAO found that most states: (1) will postpone system development for periods of 9 months or longer while they divert resources to make reprogramming, procedural, and other changes to their existing systems to meet the DEFRA deadline; (2) needed clarification in interpreting and applying DEFRA rules; (3) anticipated no problems in meeting the data safeguarding standards; and (4) were concerned about the costs and related benefits to be derived from tax data to verify applicants' and recipients' income and assets. GAO believes that: (1) distinctions should be made between computer matching to verify eligibility in benefit payment systems, and matching done for such other purposes as law enforcement; (2) the flow and usage of the data used in matching should be controlled to protect the privacy of individuals; and (3) the provisions of the bill effectively control the exchange of data to verify applicants' and recipients' declarations of benefit payment without hampering the ability of those systems to detect errors.

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