U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Revitalizing and Streamlining the Department

T-RCED-92-53: Published: Apr 8, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1992.

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GAO discussed the overall effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) management processes and organizational structure, focusing on: (1) the challenges of rapidly changing world markets, new customer needs, and emerging issues; (2) opportunities for streamlining the existing USDA field structure; and (3) USDA efforts to respond to previous GAO recommendations. GAO noted that: (1) although USDA responsibilities have diversified since its inception to include nutrition, international trade, and environmental issues, its structure and management practices have remained unchanged; (2) USDA inability to deal with increasingly complex issues prevents it from operating as an effective unit; (3) streamlining could save USDA millions of dollars while maintaining or improving operational effectiveness by more aggressively pursuing incremental improvements through collocated field office and consolidations, and restructuring to provide a more flexible, integrated field organization; and (4) in the absence of an active USDA reform commitment, external events such as technological, demographic, and fiscal changes may compel USDA to adopt hurried, ill-conceived reforms that could leave it with an ineffective structure for administering farm programs. GAO also noted that the Secretary of Agriculture has expressed a personal interest in streamlining and improving USDA management and has begun to take action to address GAO recommendations aimed at improving its organizational structure, management systems, and strategies.

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