USDA's Oversight of State Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs Could Be Strengthened

RCED-84-23: Published: Oct 21, 1983. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 1983.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Brian P. Crowley
(202) 512-9450
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) oversight of state meat and poultry inspection programs to determine whether USDA certification procedures conform to the authorizing legislation and to evaluate the methods used in special USDA internal review studies of state inspection effectiveness. In addition, GAO summarized the results of USDA ratings of state-inspected plants to identify trends and the relative standings of state programs from 1980 through 1982.

Federal legislation gives USDA discretion in determining whether state programs are equal to the federal program. GAO believes that USDA certification procedures are reasonable and consistent with legislative requirements. However, GAO identified several ways of making the certification procedures more effective. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed substantial changes to its state program review guidelines which, if implemented, would establish a specific policy regarding frequency and scope of state-inspected plant followup visits. However, GAO believes that other proposed changes would strengthen federal evaluations of state programs. The basic methods used in an FSIS internal review to determine how state-inspected review results compared with the results of federally inspected plant review were sound, but GAO could not determine whether the results were valid.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: USDA claims that the reviews of state and federal plants are made for different reasons and that direct comparison would be neither practical nor consistent with policy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FSIS, to use comparisons of state and federal plant deficiency rates when certifying state programs. This should be done by using the comparisons either as a general factor considered in reaching an overall judgment on a state's program or by using the federal rate as a basis for periodically adjusting the ranges of unacceptable item percentages now used to rate state inspection efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FSIS, to implement proposed policy changes that would specify the number of times a state-inspected plant with unacceptable items should be revisited and the number of basic inspection items that should be covered.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FSIS, to include uncorrected items found during followup visits at state-inspected plants with unacceptable items when computing state ratings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FSIS, to eliminate, or substantially reduce, the influence of custom/exempt plant reviews on state program ratings. This should be done by either basing ratings solely on reviews of official state-inspected plants or, if the Secretary deems it more appropriate, making revisions to the present rating system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FSIS completed a project to assess the effectiveness of its state program equal to determinations. GAO recommended that FSIS work with the states to jointly develop procedures for state self-certification with periodic federal overview and evaluation. The Administrator, FSIS, accepted this recommendation and is beginning to implement it. He instructed staff to monitor the program once it is place.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should instruct the Administrator, FSIS, to include this area in all regular reviews of circuit operations made by the review and evaluation staff. The Administrator likewise should include this area in similar reviews of regional operations should such reviews be implemented on a regular basis in the future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FSIS, to: (1) emphasize to circuit supervisors the importance of accurately reporting federal plant review results; and (2) require that area supervisors place special emphasis on this area during their normal oversight of circuit supervisor performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jun 9, 2016

May 26, 2016

May 19, 2016

Apr 14, 2016

Jan 14, 2016

Jan 8, 2016

Jul 9, 2015

Jun 18, 2015

May 26, 2015

May 20, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here