Agricultural Research

Gao ID: 121734 June 22, 1983

In response to a congressional request, testimony was given concerning the results of some GAO reviews related to: (1) long-range planning for Department of Agriculture (USDA) research and development activities; (2) agricultural economic research and analysis activities; and (3) the use of Federal agricultural research facilities. GAO has suggested that Federal and State research organizations cooperate in making a food needs assessment and determining the research alternatives that would help meet those needs, and Congress has directed USDA to make a food needs assessment in the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act. In response to a GAO recommendation, USDA has undertaken development of a long-range plan for in-house agricultural research. Another GAO report stated that little has been done to plan, prioritize, and coordinate agricultural economics research and analysis, and that there is disagreement on the roles of the system's major participants. USDA has recently established a new position to administer planning and organizational relations, has begun developing a long-term plan that will involve land-grant institutions in this planning process, and is preparing a new statement of mission. A further GAO report concluded that many of the USDA research facilities were not staffed to design capacity, making research projects more expensive. GAO recommended that USDA develop a plan to consolidate agricultural research activities at fewer locations which would consider research priorities, employee relocation costs, and the potential sales values of unneeded laboratories. The Agricultural Research Service is developing a plan to use as a basis for future research management which should be an excellent basis to ensure the consolidation of research and more efficient use of facilities.

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