Department of Agriculture:

Restructuring Will Impact Farm Service Agencies' Automation Plans and Programs

T-IMTEC-92-22: Published: Jul 30, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) agency restructuring and its effects on information technology plans, focusing on: (1) the upgrade, operation, and maintenance of support information technology; and (2) the impact of changes and streamlining on USDA field structures. GAO noted that: (1) USDA agencies continue to rely on manual accounting processes, even though, since 1984, USDA has spent $500 million on office information technology; (2) the Farmers Home Administration spent $200 million on automated information upgrades, but does not have adequate management information programs and still processes loan portfolios manually; (3) other USDA agencies have effectively utilized automated systems and improved efficiency and service; (4) agency computer system incompatibility causes intraagency information access limitations, a lack of integration, and redundant, error-prone, untimely, and inefficient information; and (5) needed changes to USDA agency field structures and improvements to the information technology environment include accessing all USDA information from one field office, issuing information smart cards that contain specific program information, and installing a field office geographic information system.

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