U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service:

Management and Program Reviews Are of Questionable Value

NSIAD-90-82: Published: Apr 20, 1990. Publicly Released: May 24, 1990.

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Allan I. Mendelowitz
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service's (US&FCS) program evaluation function, focusing on: (1) the number and cost of reviews and inspections completed since 1984; (2) whether US&FCS performed the reviews in accordance with acceptable government auditing standards; (3) the overall quality of the reviews; and (4) whether US&FCS should continue the reviews.

GAO found that: (1) between January 1985 and September 1989, US&FCS completed four evaluations, at an average cost of $20,700, and the US&FCS Inspector General (IG) completed 26 inspections, at an average cost of $12,726; (2) neither US&FCS nor IG were required to apply generally accepted government auditing standards; (3) US&FCS conducted its management reviews in accordance with its standards; (4) US&FCS evaluations lacked appropriate technical, development, administrative, and budgetary standards; and (5) US&FCS had not developed a system to monitor the status of report recommendations, so the usefulness of its reviews was limited.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A US&FCS official told GAO that the program has been abolished.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary, International Trade Administration, to abolish the US&FCS current Management and Program Review Program and use those resources to enhance other ongoing management and monitoring activities of US&FCS. If US&FCS management insists on maintaining the program, then the deficiencies cited in this report need to be corrected to improve the quality of the review process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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