Comments on the Establishment of a Central Photographic Bureau

PLRD-83-83: Published: May 19, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO performed a literature search and discussed the concept of establishing a central photographic bureau within the Federal Government with professionals and Government officials.

Most professionals interviewed by GAO believed that a central bureau would be efficient but pointed out that, under such an arrangement, mission responsiveness and quality could deteriorate because the personal relationships between technical and program functions is very important in the preparation of custom work to satisfy program needs. Interviewees also expressed the concern that a new bureau would eventually take on its own mission and not be responsive to the agencies it was established to serve. An alternative to establishing a Government-wide photographic laboratory might be a lead agency approach. Under this type of approach, some agency resources could be collectively used to provide a laboratory with the latest equipment. Because a lead agency laboratory would be located within an existing agency, its mission would merely be widened to serve other agencies. While it could not serve the Central Intelligence and Defense agencies, other agencies could use it for nonsensitive civilian work. However, before making any determinations on the lead agency approach, an indepth study would be required to not only determine the cost savings involved, but to consider matters of laboratory-agency function interaction, responsiveness, prioritization, potential use, and management.

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