Agricultural Research:

Refocusing Priorities to Meet Current Concerns

T-RCED-94-45: Published: Oct 7, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) implementation of its research priorities, focusing on: (1) the USDA research structure and budget; (2) past and current agricultural research objectives; and (3) factors that inhibit the refocusing of the research agenda. GAO noted that: (1) USDA research and funding levels are controlled and coordinated by the Secretary of Agriculture and distributed to numerous agencies under several assistant secretaries; (2) of the $3 billion spent on agricultural research programs, two-thirds are spent on state-level programs and the remaining third is managed by USDA; (3) the Agricultural Research Service manages the largest percentage of USDA research funds; (4) 52 percent of state research funds are received from state contributions and 48 percent are received from USDA grant programs and the private sector; (5) although USDA has attempted to refocus its research funding on emerging priorities and social needs, most USDA research funds are devoted to increasing agricultural productivity; and (6) factors that inhibit USDA from shifting research priorities include the lack of a departmentwide research agenda and an adequate management information system, specialization in the research community, and congressionally earmarked funds.

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