Agricultural Trade:

Improvements Needed in Management of Targeted Export Assistance Program

NSIAD-90-225: Published: Jun 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1990.

Contact:

Allan I. Mendelowitz
(202) 512-4812
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) management of its Targeted Export Assistance (TEA) Program.

GAO found that: (1) the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) was not adequately documenting the funding allocation decision process to clearly show how funding criteria were applied and ranked and the basis for those decisions; (2) commodity division staff are not aggressively analyzing potential opportunities for their commodities in new markets or new ways of promoting those products in established markets; (3) there was no formal coordination among FAS divisions on cross-commodity and -country analyses; (4) FAS officials said that there were no set criteria for establishing contribution levels because they believed contribution amounts should be decided on a case-by-case basis; (5) narrowly targeted recruiting and the lack of technical training have adversely affected TEA Program management; (6) TEA participants complained that TEA guidelines were always changing, making it difficult to plan and administer programs; (7) combining the TEA Program with the FAS Market Cooperator Program would be a more efficient use of FAS resources; and (8) FAS does not adequately monitor the administration of the branded portion of TEA to ensure proper accountability for the resources made available.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to better ensure that TEA funds are allocated for those commodities and markets with the greatest potential for successful market development by performing in-depth market analyses, improving the coordination between TEA and Cooperator Programs, and enhancing the information-sharing among FAS commodity divisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Effective in 1992, program regulations require a 3-year strategic plan and an expansion and standardization of the FAS application review summary. The summary includes a market basis for the prior years, the current year, and the following 2 years for U.S. exports (volume and value), U.S. market share, and TEA/MPP and Foreign Market Development program funding.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to require that participants in the generic portion of the program contribute a minimum of 5 percent of the TEA resources approved, as proposed in FAS draft regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MPP interim regulations require participants to contribute a minimum of 5 percent of MPP resources expended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to develop formal technical training programs for program specialists in such areas as marketing and business.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAS is hiring some applicants with general economic degrees, planning to hire some specialists with marketing backgrounds, and is contracting with universities and consultants to provide in-house marketing training. FAS developed and held a 3-day marketing seminar in 1991 which was attended by 30 market specialists. FAS pays for marketing courses for participants in its Upward Mobility Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to develop a management information system that will provide easy access for program managers to basic summary data on participants and program operations for market development programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The developing management information system will be examined as part of the GAO general management review of FAS.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to combine the TEA and Cooperator Programs, if the TEA Program is reauthorized, to facilitate program administration and to maximize program effectiveness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FAS believes that the legislative authority, purpose, and funding sources of the two programs make its merger into a single program impracticable. FAS is developing similar regulations for each program, except where legislative authority, purpose, or funding source preclude it. For example, FAS is carrying over certain aspects of the MPP to the Cooperator Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to conduct more oversight of participants in the branded program to ensure accountability for TEA funds and compliance with TEA guidelines.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAS published a proposed rule in April 1990 that calls for specific planning activities for each market area, identification of constraints to expanding U.S. exports of the branded product, and who will conduct and supervise the activities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to establish a 50-percent reimbursement rate for all commodities in the branded program, as proposed in FAS draft regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MIPP interim regulations provide for a 50-percent reimbursement rate in the branded program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to require nonprofit cooperator groups administering the branded program to evaluate the success of all branded activities for which they are responsible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Program regulations require not-for-profit organizations to submit activity plans for branded programs that indicate anticipated export increases. Regulations also require activity evaluations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to provide more specific guidance to participants concerning evaluation requirements in order to prevent confusion and to facilitate compliance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The guidelines contain a chapter devoted to the planning, conduct, and utilization of evaluations in program design and implementation. Also, activity plans address the outcome of prior year evaluations and describe their effect on proposed activities, provide specific goals and benchmarks for planned activities, and describe how, when, and by whom progress will be documented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to clearly document how evaluation results affect funding allocation decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Fiscal year 1991 program summaries address specific instances of program redirection or refinement based on recommendations from evaluations of past and ongoing programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to comply with federal standards for internal controls by adequately documenting major program decisions, including the funding allocation decision process, to clearly show how funding criteria were applied and ranked and the basis for those decisions, and the rationale for determining the type and amount of contributions from each participant.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Procedures were established that require reasons for change made to application forms by Under Secretary level and below. On type and amount of contributions, MPP interim regulations require the amount to be a minimum of 5 percent of CCC resources expended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FAS, to conduct cross-commodity analyses and evaluations of the program overall to assist the Assistant Administrator, Commodity and Marketing Programs in making policy decisions concerning program direction and administration.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The extent of participant evaluations will be covered in the GAO general management review of FAS.

    Jul 21, 2014

    Jul 9, 2014

    Jul 8, 2014

    Jun 26, 2014

    Jun 25, 2014

    Jun 24, 2014

    Jun 17, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here