Long-Range Planning Can Improve the Efficiency of Agricultural Research and Development

CED-81-141: Published: Jul 24, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the long-range planning for agricultural research and development which is being conducted by the Department of Agriculture, other affected agencies, and the States.

GAO found that the U.S. agricultural research and development system does not perform national long-range planning which would meet generally accepted definitions of such planning. The key participants in the system engage in long-range planning only to a very limited extent. No rationale for long-range planning has been developed, and past planning efforts have not resulted in long-range plans. Currently some planning, but not long-range planning, is occurring. Many of the parties in the agricultural research and development system support the concept of national long-range planning, but a number of factors inhibit such planning. The States and the Department of Agriculture work together, coordinate research, and exchange extensive amounts of information. These efforts are independently managed and planned. The challenge of potential food shortages in the future make long-range planning more and more essential. The long-range planning that does occur is done almost exclusively by Agriculture and focuses on inhouse research. Current planning efforts deal primarily with short-term or operational planning. The authority and management for individual research projects is split among Federal, State, local, and private authorities. This fact, frequent changes in departmental leadership, and limited executive interest and guidance make long-range planning extremely difficult. Current agricultural research is not directed or influenced by a long-range plan.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should develop an agencywide long-range plan for agriculture research and development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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