Long-Range Analysis Activities in Seven Federal Agencies

Gao ID: PAD-77-18 December 3, 1976

A study of the long-range analysis activities of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and the Interior, the Energy Research and Development Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Energy Administration included an investigation of what long-range planning and policy analyses are being made by and for the executive branch; who performs these activities; to whom are the results given; and what impact the activities have on policy decisions.

The seven agencies did not have a uniform approach. Some had centralized departmental level direction and coordination and some were decentralized. It was noted that not all programs are long-range and, therefore, careful consideration should be given before analysis is done. Long-term agency objectives and intended impact are not always clearly defined, producing a lack of systematic evaluation of the need for long-range analysis and consideration of long-range implications. Only a few reports were produced, and these tended to have a limited distribution. The most important factor in ensuring high-quality, long-range analysis is the presence of decisionmakers in both the executive branch and Congress who want it and will use it. Decisionmakers can help effectiveness by identifying objectives and recognizing the most important interrelationships among them and ensuring the active involvement of affected parties and wide dissemination of the reports.

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