Data Processing:

Status of Agriculture's Electronic Dissemination of Information System

IMTEC-87-7FS: Published: Jan 5, 1987. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Electronic Dissemination of Information System; and (2) the contractor's performance in operating the system.

GAO found that: (1) the contractor met the required deadlines for providing the system and most services to the public and to USDA users; (2) the system was operational by July 1985; (3) although the contractor experienced delays in providing data to users during the first operating year, it improved the quality of its service by correcting technical data entry and administrative data entry problems; (4) the contractor did not sell or provide data to anyone other than system users, or enhance or change data provided to public users; (5) six of the nine users believed their user fees were reasonable, while three believed the charges were too high; (6) the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) network collects and disseminates market prices for a large variety of agricultural commodities across the country to public users, agribusiness establishments, newswire services, publishing companies, and agricultural information retailers; (7) the USDA system distributes all agricultural information and reports that it collects from participating agencies to public and government users; and (8) since AMS personnel saw the system as a possible alternative to replacing the network, they have coordinated with USDA in placing its information in the system as well as in their network.

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