U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Similarities Between the Activities of the Department and Other Federal Agencies

RCED-99-35: Published: Dec 9, 1998. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Agriculture (USDA) activities that are similar to the activities conducted by other federal agencies and discussed USDA's efforts to comply with the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) many of USDA's activities appear to be similar to those of other federal agencies; (2) for example, food inspection services are provided by both USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration; (3) GAO has reported on the fundamental management problems some of these similarities create for USDA and has, in some cases, recommended organizational changes; (4) for example, some of the land management activities of USDA's Forest Service and of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service are similar; (5) GAO has reported that land management activities could be carried out more efficiently and effectively either by combining these agencies or by coordinating and integrating their functions, activities, and field locations; (6) the Results Act was designed in part to help address apparent similarities in agencies' activities by requiring federal agencies to prepare annual performance plans; and (7) however, as GAO reported in June 1998, while most of USDA's component agencies' plans at least partially discussed the need to coordinate with the agencies having related strategic or performance goals, the Department's fiscal year 1999 annual performance plan did not explain how USDA agencies are coordinating crosscutting issues both within and outside the Department.

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