U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Working Capital Fund and Modernization of Administrative Processes Program

RCED-98-29R: Published: Nov 14, 1997. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the: (1) activities supported by the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Working Capital Fund (WCF), its funding sources, and the controls in place to prevent inappropriate uses; and (2) status of USDA's Modernization of Administrative Processes (MAP) Program and its accomplishments.

GAO noted that: (1) USDA's WCF finances 22 separate activities that provide a wide variety of centralized and common administrative services to over 120 federal departments, agencies, commissions, and other entities; (2) the largest activity is conducted by USDA's National Finance Center; (3) WCF activities are reimbursed from customer agencies for the cost of services provided; (4) some of the 22 WCF activities are reimbursed on an actual-cost basis; other activities are reimbursed on either a use-based cost recovery or cost-allocation basis; (5) there are several controls over WCF to ensure its uses are appropriate; (6) USDA and the Office of Management and Budget must approve the inclusion of new activities in WCF; (7) to ensure that capital investment and operating estimates are fully justified, budgets for each activity are annually reviewed by the WCF Working Group in USDA's Office of Chief Financial Officer and the WCF Executive Committee; (8) the WCF Controller and a staff of seven monitor WCF activities to ensure that their budgets are properly executed; (9) USDA's Office of Inspector General has a staff of 14 auditors who review WCF activities; (10) the MAP Program is directed at streamlining USDA's administrative work by eliminating unnecessary procedures and paperwork, streamlining remaining policies and procedures while ensuring adequate management control, and using information technology to support those streamlined processes; (11) the program was charged with developing and implementing modern administrative processes that would help USDA share resources across agency lines where appropriate, reduce the cost of transacting business, and make effective use of technology; (12) termination of the MAP Program was expected for fiscal year-end 1999, but USDA's Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration terminated the MAP program at the end of fiscal year 1997, because he believed that it had had only limited accomplishments; (13) although the MAP program has been discontinued as a separate program, several of its projects may continue under process owners; (14) however, USDA officials have not yet determined how the projects will be funded; (15) according to the WCF Controller, several options are being considered by the WCF Executive Committee, including allowing the program's WCF activity to continue to fund the projects by reimbursing the process owners; and (16) if WCF funds are not provided, the process owners may either fund the projects from their appropriations or discontinue them.

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