ASCS Needs Better Information To Adequately Assess Proposed County and State Office Automation

Gao ID: IMTEC-84-11 May 25, 1984

GAO examined the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service's (ASCS) cost-benefit analysis to determine whether ASCS adequately justified the automation of its state and county offices.

Before automating the state and county offices that administer ASCS commodity and land use programs, ASCS tested the idea in seven county offices. The ASCS cost-benefit analysis shows greater estimated benefits than costs. GAO determined that the ASCS analysis may be overly optimistic. GAO found that the estimates are uncertain because ASCS relied on judgment rather than historical data to project many costs and benefits, and available evidence does not support some of the projections. Most of the estimated benefits are based on projections of saved staff time and improved accuracy. Further, the accuracy improvement is not substantiated by evidence, and other benefits are overstated. Estimated costs for equipment and maintenance appear to have been understated. Finally, ASCS plans to use untested technology for the implementation phase, which increases the risk of unforeseen expenses.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Walter L. Anderson Team: General Accounting Office: Information Management and Technology Division Phone: (202) 275-9675

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