oversight

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Update on Reorganization and Streamlining Efforts

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-06-24.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

-l         United States
‘lr   A0   General Accounting OffIce
           Washington, D.C. 20548

           Resources, Community,   and
           Economic Development    Division

           B-277262


           June 24, 1997


           The Honorable Charles W. Stenholm
           Ranking Minority Member
           Committee on Agriculture
           House of Representatives

           Subject:    U.S. Denartment of Agriculture:      Undate on Reorganization and
                       Streamlining Efforts
                                                                                                 W’
           Dear Mr. Stenholm:

           As requested, we are providing you with (1) information on the US.
           Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) progress in meeting mandated
           reorganization and streamlining changes required by the Federal Crop Insurance
           Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-354,
           Oct. 13, 1994) and (2) the results of our analysis to identify common support or
           staff functions performed by agencies within USDA.

           USDA’S PROGRESS IN MEETING MANDATED REORGANIZATION AND
           STREAMLINING GOALS

           USDA has made progress in achieving the four primary goals set forth in the
           1994 act: (1) reducing the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) by at least
           7,500 by the end of fiscal year 1999, (2) reducing the number of Fl’Es so that
           the percent reduction in headquarters is at least twice the percent reduction in
           the field offices, (3) consolidating headquarters offices, and (4) combining field
           offices and jointly using field office resources. Regarding the first goal, as of
           September 1996,’ USDA had reduced the number of FTEs by 15,956. Concerning
           the second goal, at the end of fiscal year 1996, the number of FTEs had been
           reduced by 18.8 percent in headquarters and by 11.7 percent in the field. As to
           the third goal, according to USDA, the number of agencies has been reduced



            ‘These are the most current data available on FTE reductions at USDA.
                                              GAO/WED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
B-277262


from 43 to 30, most of which have been restructured into seven mission areas2
Finally, as of April 1997, the number of county offices had been reduced from
over 3,700 to about 2,800.

Under its streamlining plans, USDA also required its agencies to consolidate
administrative functions in those mission areas that had more than one agency.
Administrative consolidation has been completed in four of the five mission
areas with more than one agency.3 Only the Natural Resources and the
Environment mission area, which includes the Forest Service and the Natural
Resources Conservation Service, has not consolidated administrative functions.
This is because the Forest Service has not yet received congressional approval
of its reorganization plan. However, we found that opportunities may exist for
further administrative streamlining. For example, the Rural Development
mission area is the only area that consolidated budget and civil rights functions.
According to the mission area’s Deputy Administrator for Management, the
mission area could not justify separate civil rights and budget offices for an
allocation of fewer than 8,000 Fl’Es. Other mission areas, however, have
continued to maintain separate offices for these two functions even though they
have FlX allocations that are similar to those of the Rural Development
mission area. In addition, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has
contracted with USDA’s Office of Operations to procure and deliver office
 supplies to its approximately 4,000 locations nationwide. By consolidating its
procurement functions into one location, FSIS will benefit from improved
 services, save more than $1 million annually, and need only 5 FTEs instead of
 15 to 18 for this task, according to an FSIS official.

USDA has made little progress in streamlining administrative functions at the
state office level. The county-baaed service agencies-the Farm Service Agency,
the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, and the agencies in the Rural
Development mission-have each maintained their own state office in almost
every state. These state offices employ 4,782 USDA employees, some of whom
provide administrative services. USDA’s Deputy Secretary has asked these


2(1) Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; (2) Rural Development; (3) Food,
Nutrition, and Consumer Services; (4) Natural Resources and the Environment;
(5) Food Safety; (6) Research, Education, and Economics; and (7) Marketing
and Regulatory Programs.
3The four mission areas are (1) Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; (2)
Marketing and Regulatory Programs; (3) Research, Education, and Economics;
and (4) Rural Development.
 2                               GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
B-277262


agencies to pursue a more aggressive approach to combine administrative
functions at the state level.

ANALYSIS OF COMMON SUPPORT OR STAFF FUNCTIONS
PERFORMED BY AGENCIES WITHIN USDA

Using USDA’s organization charts, we identified 15 support or staff functions
performed within multiple USDA agencies or offices. Our analysis showed that
6 of these 15 functions appeared on at least 13 agency/office organization
charts. These functions include work related to legislative/legal affairs; public
information/community a%irs; human resources; financial/budget; program
support, management or executive services; and administrative services. In
analyzing data on USDA employees, we found that the percentage of
administrative employees was greater in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan
area than in the non-Washington, D.C., metropolitan area-about 42 percent
compared with about 14 percent. We further found that USDA’s 105,036
employees span a total of 361 occupational series.4 Of these series, 46 were
repeated in about a third of USDA’s agencies/offices. Moreover, 22 of these 46
series were classified as administrative. Enclosure I contains additional data on
those administrative and clerical/technical occupational series having more than
500 USDA employees.

SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY

We reviewed USDA documents and interviewed cognizant officials to obtain
information on USDA’s reorganization and streamlining efforts. To identify
common support or staff functions performed by agencies within USDA, we
analyzed the most current and available organization charts and personnel data
from USDA’s National Finance Center for March 1997-the most current data
that were available. The National Finance Center provides financial and
administrative management services to USDA agencies.



We performed this work during May and June 1997 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. However, we did not verify
the accuracy or reliability of the National Finance Center’s data. We provided a



4As stated in the Office of Personnel Management’s Handbook of OccuDational
Grouns and Series.

3                              GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
B-277262


draft of enclosure I to USDA and incorporated minor technical changes where
appropriate. Major contributors to this report include Anu Mittal, Andrea
Brown, Paul Pan&i, and Roberto Piiiero. Please contact me on (202) 512-5138
if you or your staff have any questions.

Sincerely yours,




Director, Food and
  Agriculture Issues

Enclosure




                              GAOIRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                   ENCLOSURE I




       Update on USDA’S Reorganization                               and
       Streamlining Efforts




5                    GAOIRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                           ENCLOSURE I




w            Changes Mandated by the
             Reorganization Act of 1994
     l       Reduce the number of USDA full-time
             equivalent (FTEs) positions by at least
             7,500 by the end of FY 1999.
     l       Reduce the percent of1headquarters
                                   _
             employees by twice the rat& of field’ .
             employees.
     l       Consolidate headquarters offices.
         l   Combine field offices and jointly use field
             office resources.




                             GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                       ENCLOSURE I




w       USDA’s Progress in Meeting Mandated
        Changes
    l   FTEs reduced by 15,956 (2,204 in
        headquarters and 13,752 in the field).
    a Headquarters FTEs reduced by 18.8% and
      field FTEs by 11.7%.
    l   Seven mission areas established and the
        number of agencies reduced from 43 to 30.
    0 Number of county office locations reduced
      from 3,700 to 2,800.




7                        GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                              ENCLOSURE I




GQ        Mission Area Administrative
          Consolidation
      l   Administrative consolidation completed
          in four of the five mission areas with
          more than one agency
Mission area            Number of agencies           Lead agency for
                                       . . -         administrative
                                                     functions
Farm and Foreign                   3                 Farm Service Agency
Agricultural Services
Marketing and                      3                 Animal and Plant Health
Regulatory Programs                                  Inspection Service
Research, Education,               4                 Agricultural Research
and Economics                                        Service
Rural Development                  3                 Rural Housing Service




8                               GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
 ENCLOSURE I                                                         ENCLOSURE I




GB+I Mission Area Administrative
     Consolidation (cont.)
     l       Unique examples of administrative
             consolidation:
         l    Rural Development is the only mission
              area that has consolidated civil rights
              and budget functions.
         l    The Food Safety Inspection Service
              (FSIS) is now contracting with USDA’s
              central facility in Landover, Md., to
              purchase office supplies for its 4,000
              U.S. locations at a lower cost .




9                           GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
 ENCLOSURE I                                                             ENCLOSURE I




GAs[)State Office Administrative
     Streamlining
      l       FSA, NRCS, and the RD mission area
              each have a separate state office in
              almost every state:
              l   FSA has 51 state offices,
                                    . .. . < 8
              l   NRCS has 52 state offices, and
              l   RD has 47 state offices.
          l   These agencies proposed maintaining
              separate administrative structures, with
              some consolidation.




 10                            GAOI’RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                       ENCLOSURE I




w         State Office Administrative
          Streamlining (cont.)
      l   Deputy Secretary has asked the three
          agencies to develop a more aggressive
          approach to combining administrative
          functions at the state level.
      l   1998 budget request includes a proposal
          to require USDA to study options for
          streamlining program delivery and
          administrative support, as well as the
          optimum number of service centers.




11                       GAOIRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                            ENCLOSURE I




w         Common Functions According to
          GAO’s Analysis of Organization Charts
      l   The following 15 support/staff functions
          are performed in several USDA agencies
          and offices:
           l   Civil Rights        ..
           l   Legislative/Legal Affairs
           l   Public Information/Co mmunity Af‘fairs
           l   Human Resources
           l   Procurement




 12                           GAOIRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                             ENCLOSURE I




w       Common Functions (cont.)

              Information Systems/ADP
              Compliance/Audit/Investigation/Evaluation
              Financial/Budget
              Research
              Program Support/Management                                or
              Executive Services
              Administration




13                             GAOIRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I
                                                                    ENCLOSURE I




w       Common .Functions (cont.)

         l    Property Management
         l    Regional; State, District, County
              Off ices
         l    Economic or Policy-Analysis
         l    Planning and Coordination




14                         GAOiRCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                            ENCLOSURE I




        Number of Staff in Offices Performing
        Common Functions
        l   Six of the 15 functions appeared most often on
            agencies/off ices charts (charts did not generally
            reflect functions performed at non-D.C. locations)




                                             I                                            I   -




Total                                2,678                 1,703                 4,381




 15                           GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                                                                              ENCLOSURE I




GFQ Data on Total USDA Personnel
    as of March 1997
Hission Area                           Agency                                                 Number in       Number not in         Total number
                                                                                                the D.C.            the D.C.        of employees
                                                                                                   metro               metro
                                                                                                    area                area
-arm and Foreign Agricultural          Farm Service Agency                                           856               5,257                6,113
blvices
                                       Foreign Agricultural Service                                   642                118                  780
                                       Risk Management Agency                                          72                489                  541

Wral Development                       Rural Utilities Service                                        287                 97                  384
                                       Rural Housing Service                      .   I       ”       419,             6,412                6,831
                                       Rural Business                                                 136                   9                 145
                                       Cooperative Services
Food, Nutrition, and Consumer          Food and Consumer Service                                      586               1,165               1,751
Services
Natural Resources and the              Forest Service                                                 682             35.662               36,344
Environment                                                                               I                                     I
                                       Natural Resources Conservation     Service         1           411 1           12,751 1             13,162
Food Safety                            Food Safety and Inspection Service                             709               9,759              10,468
Research, Education, and               Agricultural Research Service                                 2,174              6,008               8,182
Economics
                                       Cooperative State Research, Education,                          346                 38                 384
                                       and Extension Service
                                       Economic Research Service                                       546                  3                 549
                                       National Agricultural Statistics Service                        402                677                1,079

Marketing and Regulatory    Programs   Agricultural Marketing Service                                  609              5,186                5,795

                                       Animal and Plant Health Inspection                              925              6,509                7,434
                                       Service
                                       Grain Inspection. Packers and Stockyards                        128                773                 901
                                       Administration




  16                                                             GAO/WED-97-186R                  USDA Reorganization          and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                                                          ENCLOSURE I




w              Data on Total USDA Personnel
               as of March 1997 (cont.)
Mission Area                 Agency                                         Number in      Number not in     Total number
                                                                              the D.C.          the D.C.     of employees
                                                                                 metro             metro
                                                                                  area              area
Other agencies and offices   Alternative Agricultural Research and                    7                 0                   7
                             Commercialization     Center
                                      ental Administration     Management




                             Office of Inspector General                           196 1             553 1             749
                             Off ice of Communications                             117                 0               117
                             Office of Budget and Program Analysis                  74                 0                  74
                             National Appeals Division                              28               104               132
                             Office of the Chief Economist                          41                 0                41
                             Office of the Secretary                                62                 1                63
                             Policy Analysis and Coordination     Center           206                11               217
                             Office of Executive Secretariat                        18                 0                  18
                             Total Number of USDA Employees                     11,439            93,597          105,036




17                                                 GAO/WED-97-186R          USDA Reorganization        and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                    ENCLOSURE I




w        Occupational Groups for 105,036
         USDA Employees, as of March 1997
                             Administrative        17.1%




 Professional                                                    8.3%


                                                                0.8%




                                  Technical 39.5%




 18                   GAO/RCED-97-I86R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                         ENCLOSURE I




           Occupational Groups for D.C. Metro Area
           Employees (11,439), as of March 1997


                               Technical      12.9%


                                                   Clericat        13.4%

 Professional   28.3%

                            \ /                          Blue collar 2.5%
                                                         Other 1.1%




                                    Administrative        41.8%




19                        GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization     and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                          ENCLOSURE I




w          Occupational Groups for Non-D.C. Metro Area
           Employees (93,597), as of March 1997

                                      Administrative        14.1 'A



                                                    Blue collar       4.7%
     Professional   30.0%

                                                         Clerical      7.7%


                                                          Oth&        0.7%




                                     Technical     42.8%




    20                      GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                         ENCLOSURE I




w         Most Common Occupational Series

      l   46 out of 361 occupational series at
          USDA are repeated in about a third of
          the agencies:
          l   40 of the 46 occupational series are
              support/staff functions, which include
              administrative and clerical series.


                                                                                       i




21                         GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization   and Streamlining
ENCLOSURE I                                                            ENCLOSURE I




w             IO Administrative Occupational Series
              with at least 500 employees




 Support Services        12              31                  541                     572
 Administration
 Administrative          17              43                  493                     536
 Officer
 Public Affairs Staff    16             147                  389                     536

 Budget Analysis Staff   23             230                  294                     524

 General Arts and        13              31                  482                     513
 Information Staff




 22                           GAO/RCED-97-186R   USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
 ENCLOSURE I                                                                       ENCLOSURE1




w              7 Clerical/Technical Occupational
               Series with at least 500 employees


  Occupational        I   Number of I   Staff in the D.C.
  serieS                   agencies           metro area
  General business                 14                 114
  and industrv
  Misc. clerk and                28                  455               2,078                   2,533
  assistant                                                                    I
  Secretary                      29                1,075

 Office automation               24                  271
 clerical and
 assistance
 Accounting                      12                   34                 913                     947
 technician           I                                                        I
 Computer clerk and   1          17 1                 37
 assistant
 Personnel clerical              14                  140
 and assistance




(150727)

 23                                     GAO/RCED-97-186R    USDA Reorganization    and Streamlining
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