U.S. Department of Agriculture: Improving Management of Cross-Cutting Agricultural Issues
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC RESOURCES COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIV
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This is one of several reports on the management of the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA. These reports are part of a series of GAO management reviews of major departments and agencies. USDA is composed of 36 agencies, under the leadership of two under and seven assistant secretaries. Traditionally, policies are established and implemented by the agencies responsible for a particular area. However, a growing number of issues, which we call cross-cutting issues, must be dealt with by more than one agency. These issues not only cut across agencies, but also across areas for which individual under and assistant secretaries are responsible. We assessed the Departments effectiveness in managing cross-cutting issues and identified ways for improving its management of these issues. We chose to review three of these emerging issues-food safety, agricultural biotechnology, and water quality-because they are representative of concerns requiring senoir management attention. USDA has not developed an approach for managing cross-cutting issues that gives it a cohesive department-wide strategy in any given area. Rather, management generally relies on ad hoc groups or individual agencies to develop policies and plans. These agencies implement and monitor their specific responsibilities in a cross cutting issue. However, uncoordinated agency efforts cannot achieve an integrated, departmental perspective.
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