Manufacturing Extension Programs:

Manufacturers' Views About Delivery and Impact of Services

GGD-96-75: Published: Mar 14, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO surveyed manufacturers' views regarding the impact of manufacturing extension programs (MEP), focusing on: (1) factors contributing to the positive impact of overall business performance reported by the majority of survey respondents; (2) whether companies' expectations were met regarding MEP impact on specific business performance indicators; and (3) whether companies thought that MEP actually demonstrated attributes they valued most.

GAO found that: (1) the results of its survey could not be applied to all MEP participants or all MEP service categories; (2) companies that supplemented MEP assistance with their own resources, implemented more MEP recommendations, were small and relatively new, and did not pay fees for MEP assistance were more likely to view the MEP program positively; (3) the source of MEP funding did not influence companies' views of the assistance's impact; (4) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) officials believed that NIST support improved MEP programs' efficiency and effectiveness and made MEP services more widely available; (5) about two-thirds to three-quarters of the companies that expected MEP assistance to enhance specific business indicators believed that the results met or exceeded their expectations; and (6) over 90 percent of the companies rated staff expertise, timely assistance, and reasonably priced MEP service fees and project proposals as important MEP features and most were satisfied with their specific MEP programs in these areas.

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