Government Reorganization:

Issues Relating to International Trade Responsibilities

T-GGD-95-218: Published: Jul 25, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1995.

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GAO discussed the potential impact of abolishing the Department of Commerce and some of its functions and transferring its remaining functions to other federal agencies. GAO noted that: (1) Commerce plays an important role in formulating trade policy, promoting exports, regulating trade, and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating trade data; (2) Commerce works with interagency committees to coordinate trade activities; (3) while the coordinating mechanisms for trade policy and data collection and dissemination are functioning well, the mechanism for export promotion is still evolving; (4) eliminating certain Commerce functions would deprive other agencies of critical analytical support and sever the link between Commerce's foreign network and U.S. businesses; (5) transferring Commerce functions could adversely affect the delicate balance between competing foreign trade policies; (6) the Department of Agriculture's export promotion programs hold the greatest potential for cost savings through restructuring; and (7) Congress needs to consider an integrated approach to reorganization, specific, identifiable goals, the right vehicles for accomplishing the goals, and proper implementation and oversight of the reorganization.

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