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Highlights

One or more of the 5 farm service agencies maintains a presence in almost every one of the nation's 3,150 counties. In key farm programs, USDA is managed at the grass-roots level by its constituents. Although this organization has made USDA successful in responding to its clients, the heavy constituent involvement makes the Department slow to recognize the need to make changes in the field structure. Operating this decentralized field network is also costly. In fiscal year 1989, 4 of the 5 farm service agencies spent approximately $2.4 billion and required over 63,000 staff years to administer their programs in over 11,000 county offices. These expenditures translate to about $1,100 in federal administration costs per farm, using USDA's definition of a farm as having sales of $1,000 or more. Field office collocation occurs when two or more agencies can share common office space; field office consolidation occurs within individual agencies where the work of two or more sites can be performed at a single location.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Now that the Congress has completed its work on the 1990 farm bill, it may wish to hold hearings to (1) determine why USDA has not implemented its own task force's recommendations for integrating the farm agencies and (2) explore the prospect of reorganizing these agencies in conjunction with congressional deliberations on the program and policy provisions of the 1995 farm bill.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. To encourage collocated offices to provide convenient service to farmers and rural residents at the least cost to the Department, the Secretary of Agriculture should implement the necessary management controls to ensure that (1) cost savings data are maintained on resource-sharing initiatives undertaken at each collocated office and (2) the potential for additional cost savings at these locations is reported annually through the FACs to the Secretary. The state and local FACs should then work with USDA's top management to develop strategic plans for implementing additional initiatives at USDA's 2,040 collocated offices nationwide.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information
Farmers Home Administration 2. To ensure that field office consolidations are undertaken where feasible in terms of cost savings and without disrupting program delivery, the administrators of FmHA, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), Soil Conservation Service (SCS), as well as other USDA agencies with significant field presence, should prepare annual reports to the Secretary of Agriculture and the congress identifying potential consolidation candidates on the basis of work load and other relevant criteria. The Secretary should then use this information in working with the congress and other interested parties in carrying out consolidations.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information
Department of Agriculture 3. To ensure that field office consolidations are undertaken where feasible in terms of cost savings and without disrupting program delivery, the administrators of FmHA, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), Soil Conservation Service (SCS), as well as other USDA agencies with significant field presence, should prepare annual reports to the Secretary of Agriculture and the congress identifying potential consolidation candidates on the basis of work load and other relevant criteria. The Secretary should then use this information in working with the congress and other interested parties in carrying out consolidations.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information
Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service 4. To ensure that field office consolidations are undertaken where feasible in terms of cost savings and without disrupting program delivery, the administrators of FmHA, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), Soil Conservation Service (SCS), as well as other USDA agencies with significant field presence, should prepare annual reports to the Secretary of Agriculture and the congress identifying potential consolidation candidates on the basis of work load and other relevant criteria. The Secretary should then use this information in working with the congress and other interested parties in carrying out consolidations.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information
Soil Conservation Service 5. The Congress may wish to consider working with USDA to take greater advantage of opoortunities to consolidate local offices where farm clients may be served through a multicounty operation as or more efficiently and at less cost to the U.S. taxpayer.
Closed
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information

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