USDA Unaware of How Many People it Employs

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Remember the peanut recall? It may have something to do with the USDA’s organizational, err, challenges. AgWeb’s Washington Insight blog reports on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Monday press conference:

How many people actually work at USDA?
In an interesting development, Vilsack said he cannot find out how many thousands of employees he has at USDA. “They could tell me how many checks are issued, but not how many people work here,” he said. “It was the first question I asked the transition staff when the president nominated me for this position. I was interested to know how many people actually work at USDA,” Vilsack said. “And I was told that no one knows for sure.”

Vilsack said the department’s computer system is so outdated they are not sure how many full- and part-time employees are on the payroll. “That together with a number of reports from the Inspector General’s office and the (General Accountability Office) concerning the operations and management suggested that what we have here in some aspects and areas is charitably outdated,” Vilsack concluded.

(Author’s) comments: Several decades ago, a Wall Street Journal reporter was walking the hallways at USDA and noticed a lot of people talking, reading books, etc., and she began asking what work they did at USDA. Some of the answers were not what a lot of people wanted to hear. That set off hearings and a USDA “task force” to identify its people and define what they did or were supposed to do.

Makes you wonder why the corporations are the ones collapsing. Egads.

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Comments

  1. Jeff's Gravatar Comment by Jeff on February 5th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I disagree. Incompetent management like that could only exist in the government where there are built-in barracades to modernizing information systems and removing the dead-wood employees. There are commercial HR and Payroll applications available off-the-shelf that could manage their mess, but if they tried to update systems, they probably Gold-plated the requirements so much that it got priced right out of the budget.

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