Sunday, October 26, 2008

Race and USDA, an example of Mismanagement

From the GAO report which I noted earlier includes this:

In 2004, to overcome these conditions [customers identified by observation], ASCR published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on its plan to collect additional data on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, and age. While ASCR
received some public comments, it did not follow through and obtain
OMB’s approval to collect the data. In a January 2008 briefing document,
an ASCR work group stated that ASCR does not have the staff or financial
resources to proceed with this project. ASCR officials said, after meeting
with GAO in May 2008, they convened an interagency work group to
develop a revised notice to be published in the Federal Register. As of
August 2008, the draft notice is under review within USDA, according to
ASCR officials.
This seems inexcusable mismanagement--4 years go by without someone pushing the issue? In an office of over 100 people you don't have one or two to devote to it? No action by the head of the office, nor by the Secretary?

In partial defense of the bureaucracy, (to change my viewpoint quickly), USDA is a collection of independent agencies with tight ties to people in Congress, interest groups, and local communities, so imposing a system from the South Building, which is what GAO is asking for, would be a daunting job for the best of bureaucrats.

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