NU Online News Service, Sept. 13, 6:15 p.m. – The U.S. General Accounting Office has released a 395-question checklist that federal agencies, their inspectors and their auditors can use to evaluate their employee benefits computer systems.
The GAO developed the checklist to help agencies implement standards developed by the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program in September 2001. Congress authorized the creation of the program in 1996 in an effort to improve the government’s financial management systems and make them easier to understand.
Jeffrey Steinhoff, the GAO managing director who led the team that developed the checklist, warns in his introduction against assuming a system must comply with every suggested requirement in the checklist.
“Those using this tool must apply experienced judgment in its interpretation and application,” Steinhoff writes. “They must consider the impact of a completed checklist on an entire benefit system and whether the system, as a whole, substantially complies with requirements.”
But the checklist could also be useful to insurers trying to evaluate their own benefit systems, or to software vendors and standards groups trying to develop tools for evaluating commercial systems.
The GAO checklist includes one section on “Functional Requirements” that deals with topics such as claims acceptance and tracking, claims processing, benefits payment administration, reporting and quality assurance.