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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Agriculture

GAO-22-105601 Published: Jun 16, 2022. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2022.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our priority open recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of April 2022. For example, one focuses on strengthening efforts to prevent unsafe drug residue in imported seafood.

Since our previous letter in July 2021, USDA implemented 4 of our 11 priority recommendations.

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What GAO Found

In July 2021, GAO identified 11 priority recommendations for the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, USDA has implemented four of those recommendations by, among other things, revising policies and procedures to help improve its oversight of the funds it awards to nonfederal entities.

In June 2022, GAO identified six additional priority recommendations for USDA, bringing the total number to 13. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • protecting the safety of the food supply.
  • reducing improper payments.
  • strengthening protections for wage workers.
  • improving USDA's oversight of federal assistance and awards.
  • improving information technology and cybersecurity.

USDA's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or

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Compliance oversightCybersecurityFarmingFederal assistance programsFood safetyHigh-risk issuesImproper paymentsInformation technologyPolicies and proceduresRisk managementWorkers