Human Capital:

Need for Better Monitoring and Analysis of Foundry Data by the Department of Commerce

EMD-82-15: Published: Nov 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 1981.

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In a prior report, GAO discussed foundry closures and their effect on defense production capacity and Federal data collection problems. GAO reviewed the deficiencies in the organization and the foundry data analysis within the Department of Commerce over and above the data collection problems stressed in the first report.

The Department of Commerce's Office of Basic Industries (OBI) monitors and analyzes basic industries, the third largest of which is the foundry industry. However, the OBI organizational structure appears to hinder comprehensive analysis of foundry problems. OBI has placed a very low priority, in terms of staffing, on monitoring and analyzing the foundry industry; less than 1 staff year was devoted to foundries in 1980 by OBI and assigned staff had undergone frequent turnover. The OBI data files do not appear consonant with the quantitative importance of the foundry sector; they provide at best an incomplete knowledge of industry trends and their effect on the national industrial base. Further impediments to the analyses of the foundry industry by OBI and others are the classification problem and contradictory information published by the Bureau of Census on the number of active foundries and shipment tonnage. OBI has no formal channels of communication within Commerce and with other Government agencies which could help alert OBI to new foundry data. For example, the OBI ferrous castings specialist was unaware of pertinent Census Bureau data on the industry as well as special foundry studies published by other Government agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Commerce feels a Memo of Understanding is not necessary. It has established a division responsible for collecting information on how the governmental regulations affect the foundry industry. This increased activity should satisfy the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should initiate preparation of memorandums of understanding with the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for the purpose of keeping OBI apprised of planned, ongoing, and completed work related to the foundry industry.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should ensure that adequate resources are assigned within OBI to ferrous and nonferrous casting and foundry equipment sectors. Also, the Secretary should require OBI to establish continuous contact with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Mines for beneficial collaboration in the development of the foundries' sector industrial model being sponsored by the Bureau.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: Through the Department's designated Chief Economist, the Secretary of Commerce should direct OBI to annually develop a list of foundries closed, reasons for the nature of the closure, and other data necessary to determine the impact of closures on the foundry industry, such as capacity and employment effects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: Through the Department's designated Chief Economist, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau of the Census to include in the Census of Manufactures or Current Industrial Reports reconciliations or explanations for the discrepancies in foundry shipment data between these two publications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

 

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