The United States Should Play a Greater Role in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

ID-77-13: Published: May 16, 1977. Publicly Released: May 16, 1977.

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Progress has been made in implementing GAO's 1969 recommendations to the Departments of State and Agriculture, which are primarily responsible for administering U.S. participation in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), but more specific improvements are needed.

The 1976 statement of U.S. objectives is broad, and neither identifies U.S. interests in terms of priorities nor relates U.S. goals to specific real or potential FAO programs. FAO's improved programming and budgeting systems still do not provide sufficient information to permit effective assessment of the relationships between the regular programs and the extrabudgetary development activities. Present FAO attempts to streamline the process will further reduce the information available to the governing bodies, which focus their review primarily on program increases and shifts of emphasis. The budget review process is long and unwieldy, and the budget documents are nonspecific and hard to understand. Evaluation of programs and activities is neither systematic nor comprehensive, and the member governments are not provided sufficient information to judge the effectiveness of program administration. FAO plans to fund a development program with budget funds rather than with voluntary contributions and to decentralize its operations. Specific functions and responsibilities have not been clearly assigned to concerned U.S. agencies. Trust fund development projects should be consistent with FAO policies and unified country programs. The United States should actively help shape the future of the World Food Council.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The 1976 statement should be revised to clarify U.S. priorities and concerns in a program-oriented manner. More specific goals and an action plan should be developed to help improve the programming and budgeting systems. A more comprehensive system of program evaluation by FAO should be developed and the resulting reports should be more specific. The U.S. position that development and technical assistance should be voluntarily funded and administered by U.N. Development Program should be reasserted. U.S. involvement should be designated as being primarily the responsibility of the State Department, which should then clearly define responsibilities for the other agencies involved and develop a system to review FAO activities.

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