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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Agriculture

GAO-23-106456 Published: May 12, 2023. Publicly Released: May 22, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations.

This letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture outlines 12 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, one recommendation was for USDA to analyze different options to help farmers and ranchers prepare for the impacts of climate change.

USDA implemented 6 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

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What GAO Found

In June 2022, GAO identified 13 priority recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, USDA has implemented 6 of those recommendations by, among other things, developing policies and procedures for the Food and Nutrition Service to enhance its oversight of federal funds it has awarded to nonfederal entities.

In May 2023, GAO identified five additional priority recommendations for USDA, bringing the total number to 12. These recommendations involve the following areas: 

  • reducing improper payments;
  • improving USDA's oversight of federal assistance programs;
  • improving IT and cybersecurity; and
  • managing federal fiscal exposure to climate risks.

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 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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