Inventory of Federal Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Programs

CED-79-125: Published: Sep 11, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1979.

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In cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Management and Budget, GAO developed a prototype food, agriculture, and nutrition program inventory (FANI). Four major factors prompted the development of this model inventory system: (1) the increasing uncertainty of world food demand; (2) the need for a central source to provide information on the numerous food, agriculture, and nutrition-related programs administered by federal agencies; (3) growing public demand that government productivity be maintained or enhanced; and (4) increased attentiveness on the part of Congress to its oversight duties. GAO created an index that defined 359 programs in 28 agencies according to sector of society, beneficiary, function, and scope. The FANI survey made use of a data collection instrument which contained the following 16 information elements: Program Title, Administering Body, Program ID Codes, Statutory Authority, Financial Data, Authorization, Program Description, Program Descriptors, Codes, Congressional Committee Jurisdiction, Related Programs, Program Reports, Agency Contact, Date Form Completed, Staff Member Completing Form, and Source of Information.

The creation of walkways between FANI and other inventory systems, budget or control systems, and planning or forecasting systems in the public and private sector would enable analysts and managers to compare and relate measurements of success and composite program evaluations to current conditions and future forecasts. To ensure the usefulness of FANI beyond its developmental stage users, should develop and utilize indicators of success, select a set of indicators that reflect the conditions of the environment and society, and develop a method to draw together all program inventories and indicators of success. FANI can be used as a model to develop similar inventories for other issues such as health, transportation, land use, communications and, thereby, assist Congress and other decisionmakers in oversight and program evaluation. To fully realize the usefulness of FANI and other information tools to decisionmakers, four issues need to be considered: (1) how FANI can be best refined and maintained on an ongoing basis within USDA; (2) how the methods developed in this prototype effort can be best coordinated with the activities regarding the Sunset legislation; (3) what the best way is to link FANI to a set of environmental, social, technical, and economic indicators; and (4) how FANI can be coordinated with a futures-oriented system to assess single and cross issue impacts.

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