U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Update on Reorganization and Streamlining Efforts

RCED-97-186R: Published: Jun 24, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the: (1) Department of Agriculture's (USDA) progress in meeting mandated reorganization and streamlining changes required by the Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994; and (2) results of GAO's analysis to identify common support or staff functions performed by agencies within USDA. GAO did not verify the accuracy or reliability of data it obtained from USDA's National Finance Center.

GAO noted that: (1) USDA has made progress in achieving the four primary goals set forth in the 1994 act: (a) reducing the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) by at least 7,500 by the end of fiscal year (FY) 1999; (b) reducing the number of FTEs so that the percent reduction in headquarters is at least twice the percent reduction in the field offices; (c) consolidating headquarters offices; and (d) combining field offices and jointly using field office resources; (2) as of September 1996, USDA had reduced the number of FTEs by 15,956; (3) at the end of FY 1996, the number of FTEs had been reduced by 18.8 percent in headquarters and by 11.7 percent in the field; (4) according to USDA, the number of agencies has been reduced from 43 to 30, most of which have been restructured into seven mission areas; (5) as of April 1997, the number of county offices had been reduced from over 3,700 to about 2,800; (6) under its streamlining plans, USDA also required its agencies to consolidate administrative functions in those mission areas that had more than one agency; (7) USDA has made little progress in streamlining administrative functions at the state office level; (8) using USDA's organization charts, GAO identified 15 support or staff functions performed within multiple USDA agencies or offices; (9) in analyzing data on USDA employees, GAO found that the percentage of administrative employees was greater in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area than in the non-Washington, D.C., metropolitan area--about 42 percent compared with about 14 percent; (10) GAO further found that USDA's 105,036 employees span a total of 361 occupational series, of which 46 were repeated in about a third of USDA's agencies and offices; and (11) 22 of these 46 series were classified as administrative.

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