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Highlights

GAO discussed the overall effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) management processes and systems, focusing on: (1) solutions to USDA organizational and structural problems; (2) USDA streamlining efforts; and (3) issues involved with USDA revitalization. GAO noted that: (1) USDA organizational structure has not adequately managed many of the emerging rural development and biotechnology issues that cut across traditional structural lines; (2) USDA information, financial and human resource management systems have remained the responsibility of USDA agencies to serve their individual needs and provide individual program benefits; (3) although recent efforts to streamline USDA continue including closing or consolidating field offices, reducing paperwork, and improving agency computer systems, fundamental structural problems within USDA remain; and (4) Congress and USDA need to redefine its mission to reflect its expanded role, develop effective integrated management information systems, develop a long-range strategic plan to help meet its information technology needs, and expand its control to increase accountability and management effectiveness.

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