GAO Mission and Operations:
General Accounting Office Reviews of Agricultural Research Activities
T-RCED-89-51, Jun 20, 1989
GAO discussed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) agricultural research activities, focusing on long-range planning, personnel needs, use of research facilities, and funding. GAO found that: (1) following enactment of the Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Policy Act in 1981, USDA developed an agencywide long-range assessment for foods, fiber, and forest products and a basis for future research and development management; (2) prior to the act, USDA had worked with university representatives to identify the need for graduates in the food and agricultural sciences, but had not interacted with industry and federal agencies that used such personnel; (3) after Congress authorized annual appropriations of $50 million for grants and fellowships for food and agricultural sciences education, USDA proposed two college programs that would produce scientists and other professionals with food and agricultural expertise; (4) despite the underuse of its existing laboratories, USDA constructed and planned new laboratories, but agreed to carefully consider facility needs related to priority research programs; (5) both regional distribution of federal funds and state funding varied widely depending on the research program; and (6) officials at land-grant institutions generally supported increases in formula grants to keep pace with inflation and increases in funding for competitive grants programs.