has faced significant management challenges, the Department has improved
since the third quarter of 2002, when it had three progress scores. However,
USDA still lags behind other Cabinet Departments on the management agenda.
Capital — USDA’s status will remain red until significant
progress is made in implementing its new human capital strategic
plan. USDA completed a skills gap analysis for its top 21 mission-critical
positions, initiated an executive development program and a mentoring
program, and established an accountability program to asses human
Sourcing — USDA’s status is red because it has not
met the 15 percent competitive sourcing goal. USDA has converted
some positions to the private sector. However, USDA has not subjected
a significant share of conservation technical assistance to competition.
Performance — USDA’s status is red since USDA has
persistent material weaknesses, and compliance with government-wide
spending restrictions remains a challenge. USDA is using a federally
compliant financial management system, and it received a clean consolidated
audit opinion for the first time, a significant step forward. USDA
is working to reduce erroneous payments, especially in Food Stamp
and Child Nutrition Programs.
E-Government — USDA’s status is yellow for E-Gov
because it lacks an Enterprise Architecture. It is developing one
and has made sound business cases for IT investments.
Integration — USDA’s status is red as little actual
integration has occurred. USDA developed a strategic plan reflecting
its purposes but needs to expand the number of outcome based performance
measures. USDA must complete common performance evaluations and
implement an expanded budget and performance integration plan adequately
linking performance with budgetary decisions.
USDA programs received uneven PART reviews. Considerable time was devoted
to developing useful performance measures to improve accountability. USDA
must still improve the quality of its goals. For instance, the Rural Electric
Utility Loans and Guarantees program has no suitable measures.