Why GAO Did This Study
The USDA's principal research agencies, ARS and NIFA, play a key role in supporting agricultural science, and questions have been raised about the extent to which the two agencies may be performing duplicative research and whether the agencies collaborate in planning research. Research duplication is the inadvertent repetition of research that does not confirm or verify conclusions from prior studies. Collaborative planning involves bringing together research agencies and stakeholders to discuss priorities and roles and responsibilities. In this context, GAO was asked to assess how these agencies ensure the efficient use of their resources for research. This report examines (1) the topics ARS and NIFA focus on and the safeguards the agencies use to prevent duplication of research projects, along with any shortcomings in those safeguards, and (2) collaborative planning ARS and NIFA engaged in and how, if at all, such planning could be enhanced. GAO reviewed USDA safeguards against duplication within and between ARS and NIFA; reviewed 20 randomly selected projects; analyzed information on collaborative planning; and interviewed officials from USDA, universities, and industry.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends, among other things, that ARS issue guidance that project information be provided to CRIS on a quarterly basis and that ARS and NIFA enhance collaborative planning. USDA generally agreed with GAO's findings, and cited benefits for three of the four recommendations.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
GAO Report Released: Agricultural Research: Two USDA Agencies Can Enhance Safeguards against Project Duplication and Strengthen Collaborative Planning
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Agricultural Research: Two USDA Agencies Can Enhance Safeguards against Project Duplication and Strengthen Collaborative Planning GAO-13-255 (Apr. 12, 2013). The details of the 54-page report, available here, are discussed below: