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    Subject Term: "Food supply"

    12 publications with a total of 27 open recommendations including 5 priority recommendations
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To guide the nation's efforts to improve the federal food safety oversight system and address ongoing fragmentation, the appropriate entities within the EOP should, in consultation with relevant federal agencies and other stakeholders, develop a national strategy that states the purpose of the strategy, establishes high-level sustained leadership, identifies resource requirements, monitors progress, and identifies short- and long-term actions to improve the food safety oversight system.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, the agency had not acted on our recommendation.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further enhance FDA's PREDICT tool and its ability to ensure the safety of imported food, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to document the process for identifying the type of open source data to collect, obtaining such data, and determining how PREDICT is to use the data.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, GAO was awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: While recognizing that cargo preference serves policy goals established by Congress with respect to the U.S. merchant marine, including maintenance of a fleet capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, Congress should consider clarifying cargo preference legislation regarding the definition of "geographic area" to ensure that agencies can fully utilize the flexibility Congress granted to them when it lowered the CPFA requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We did not receive comments on the Matter for Congressional Consideration. As of March 2017, no legislation had been introduced to clarify the definition of 'geographic area' with regard to cargo preference laws.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of MARAD to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. In the study, MARAD should identify potential solutions to address the mariner shortfall if one is still identified.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOT concurred with our recommendation to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. DOT stated that MARAD has been reviewing the adequacy of existing plans to recruit mariner volunteers to crew the full reserve fleet. Furthermore, DOT noted that 13,000 mariners are required to crew all the vessels in the fleet for sustained operations. On June 15, 2016, GAO contacted MARAD officials to clarify the current status of the National Maritime Strategy, which DOT officials had stated would contain the results of their review. The officials said that the Strategy is still in the interagency process for approval and is not likely to be published until the end of 2016. DOT told GAO in December 2016 that it had conducted an exercise in September 2016 to test mariner availability for an initial activation of the full fleet. However, this exercise did not fully address GAO's recommendation, as it did not test for a full and prolonged activation of the fleet. Furthermore, DOT officials told GAO in April 2017 that the National Maritime Strategy has not been released and is awaiting review from the current Administration.
    Director: Johana R. Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To obtain information useful to DLA's decision making regarding MRE inventory levels, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness should direct the Director, DLA, to request that the military services, as part of existing coordination efforts, share information on potential changes to MRE consumption and disposals that could affect future demand.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Logistics and Materiel Readiness
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a June 2015 report to Congress, DLA stated that the agency and the services were sharing information on MRE demand and usage patterns. DOD officials stated in August 2016 that DLA is requesting more detailed information regarding MRE consumption and disposal data from the services for fiscal year 2016. As of September 2017, DLA had not provided documentation of information-sharing incorporating consumption and disposal data. We will continue to monitor DLA's actions on this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure the safety of food imported into the United States, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs should complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. If the inspection numbers from that evaluation are different from the inspection targets mandated in FSMA, FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In January 2015, we recommended that the Commissioner of FDA complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. Additionally, if the inspection numbers from that analysis are different from the inspection targets mandated in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes. At the time of our report, FDA was not keeping pace with FSMA's mandate to increase inspections each year from 2011 through 2016. In April 2017, FDA indicated that that it does not anticipate going significantly beyond 1,200 foreign food facilities inspections per year, based on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the foreign inspection requirement of FSMA. However, FDA has not conducted an analysis to determine whether the increased number of inspections mandated by FSMA or the lower number of inspections it is currently conducting is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. FDA noted that, in January 2017, it began an analysis to define and describe the global inventory of human and animal food firms and examine the application of regulatory oversight tools across the inventory. According to FDA, the analysis will help it assess the annual number of foreign food facility inspections as part of an overall risk-based allocation of resources for ensuring that imported foods are produced in a manner the meets applicable U.S. safety standards. We continue to believe that FDA should complete such an analysis and report the results to Congress.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that their food safety goals are complementary and strategies are mutually reinforcing, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts, including by more fully describing in their strategic and performance planning documents how they are working with other agencies to achieve their food safety-related goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USDA and HHS agreed with our recommendation that they continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts. In response to the recommendation, HHS took steps to update its strategic and performance planning documents to better address crosscutting food safety efforts. For example, in February 2015, HHS updated its strategic plan to more fully describe how it is working with other agencies to achieve its food safety-related goals and objectives. As a result, we closed the recommendation to HHS as implemented. In its written comments on our report, USDA said that the Department was working to achieve the GPRAMA requirement for interagency collaboration and continues to work with HHS to align its strategic and performance planning to achieve their mutual food safety goals and efforts. As of March 2017, USDA had not fully implemented our recommendation, although the Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had taken some steps that could contribute toward full implementation. For example, FSIS included more information on crosscutting food safety efforts in its fiscal year 2017-2021 strategic plan and in its draft fiscal year 2017 annual plan than it did in its prior strategic and annual plans. Such information could be included in USDA's next strategic plan. According to USDA officials, the Department plans to include more information on interagency collaboration in its next strategic plan, to be issued in February 2018. As USDA and its component agencies work to develop the Department's new strategic plan, attention should be given to fully addressing crosscutting food safety efforts in it and in USDA's associated performance planning documents. Once USDA's new strategic plan has been released, we will evaluate whether the recommendation has been implemented. We continue to believe that implementing the recommendation is an important step toward addressing fragmentation in federal oversight of food safety.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider directing OMB to develop a government-wide performance plan for food safety that includes results oriented goals and performance measures and a discussion of strategies and resources.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider formalizing the FSWG through statute to help ensure sustained leadership across food safety agencies over time.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to require state agencies to articulate their procedures for identifying attempted sales of WIC food benefits in their WIC state plans and analyze the information to ascertain the national extent of state efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that in April 2015 the agency revised the guidance for WIC state plans to include policies on informing participants that the sale of WIC benefits is a program violation. As part of that document, state agencies were required to report/articulate their policies and procedures for identifying and monitoring online sales of WIC benefits. In October 2015, USDA contracted a study to determine 1) the national extent of WIC state agency policies and procedures intended to prevent, monitor, and take administrative action related to online sales of WIC infant formula; and 2) effective preventative, monitoring, and investigative approaches to address the online sale of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that a narrative state plan report, based on the contractor's review of 2016 and 2017 state plans, is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017. GAO will close this recommendation once USDA has issued its report.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to collect information to help assess the national extent of attempted online sales of WIC formula benefits and determine cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online classified advertisements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it would explore options for using available resources to assess the extent of online sales of WIC formula and to identify and share best practices, cost-effective techniques, or new approaches with state agencies to use in monitoring online advertisements. In October 2015, USDA contracted a case study analysis of two state agencies in order to provide examples of prevention, monitoring, investigation, and sanctioning practices related to the online sale of WIC infant formula. As part of this study, the contractor sought to identify cost-effective techniques State agencies can use to monitor sales of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that the Case Study Analysis Report is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017, and after it is completed, USDA will work to disseminate the study results to state agencies. GAO supports these efforts and will close this recommendation when the study is completed, providing the study identifies cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online sales of infant formula.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform users of the annual monitoring report about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its pesticide monitoring program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA posted a report summarizing the results of its Fiscal Year 2012 Pesticide Monitoring Program. The report identified which pesticides the agency tested for in FY 2012. However, the report did not identify which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances were not tested for, nor did it discuss the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology that would enable the agency, within existing resources, to gather nationally representative pesticide residue incidence and level data for both domestically produced and imported foods, or justify statistically the use of a nonprobability method that can measure the estimation error. In designing either approach, FDA should consider the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA issued a report summarizing the results of its pesticide monitoring program for Fiscal Year 2012. This report followed by about 4 months the issuance of our report, GAO-15-38, in October 2014. The FDA report stated that the sampling methodology used in FY 2012 was not statistically based. However, in light of our recommendation that FDA design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology, the agency could have used its February 2015 report to announce its plan to develop such a methodology for use in the future, but it did not do so. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to report the nationally representative incidence and level data in its annual pesticide monitoring reports, including disclosing the limits of its chosen sampling methodology.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to use the incidence and level data to assess the effectiveness of FDA's targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, including its use of the Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting targeting tool for imported foods, by comparing the rate of violations detected through the program to the overall rate of pesticide residue violations within the domestic and imported food supplies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to identify any types of domestic and imported foods that are at high risk for pesticide residue tolerance violations to improve the ability of its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program to consistently identify food likely to have violations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To better inform the public about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSIS Administrator to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its National Residue Program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2015 Residue Sampling Plan for the National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. In December 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2014 Residue Sample Results for its national residue program. The agency's report on its results did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that were not included in its testing program, nor did it report on the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. In June 2016, FSIS issued its sampling plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. The FSIS sampling results for Fiscal Year 2015 were not available as of December 2016.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by providing more complete information on the sampling methodology the agency uses, such as how it identifies and selects states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing, and include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. As with earlier reports, this report does not provide sufficient documentation of the survey methods used in the program. In particular, the report does not provide complete information on the sampling methodology the agency used, such as how it identified and selected states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing. Further, it does not include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by reporting on the extent to which its survey covers commodities in the U.S. food supply and any limitations associated with its survey methodology.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report has a new section titled Sampling Limitations. In that section, the agency acknowledges that the total number of distribution centers and terminal markets within the participating states is difficult to establish because existing sites may go out of business or merge and new sites may open during the course of the year. Despite this limitation, the agency concludes that the sites selected in the program are representative of all sites in these states. However, the agency has not provided sufficient documentation in the report to support the claim that its data are representative of conditions across the country for commodities in the U.S. food supply.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by describing methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report does not describe methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FSIS efforts protect human health by reducing Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination in FSIS-regulated poultry products, in future revisions of the compliance guidelines on controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSIS to ensure the inclusion of information on the effectiveness of each recommended farm practice to reduce these pathogens in live poultry.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2015, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service released the draft revised compliance guideline to assist poultry establishments in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw poultry. The draft guideline included information on the effectiveness of each recommended farm practice to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in live poultry. FSIS announced the availability of and requested comment on the revised compliance guideline in a December 2015 Federal Register Notice. FSIS officials told us that they anticipate finalizing the draft guideline in fiscal year 2017 and the guideline states that while the document is draft, establishments are encouraged to incorporate information in the guideline in their decision-making process. As of April 2017, FSIS had not finalized the guideline.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically collect, and ensure the reliability and validity of, data on delivery time frames for all emergency food aid shipments, including prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that Food for Peace (FFP) was reviewing what actions are needed to ensure that reliable data on delivery time frames for all emergency aid is collected from cooperating sponsors. In 2015, USAID officials noted that they were exploring options for developing a prepositioning tracking system, but were still in the early stages. As of April 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the timeliness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation of systematically monitoring and assessing data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation on systematically monitoring and assessing costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-2649

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest in companies' GRAS determinations, including taking steps such as issuing guidance for companies on conflict of interest and requiring information in GRAS notices regarding expert panelists' independence.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, FDA indicated that guidance on potential conflicts of interest for experts participating on GRAS panels is a priority for the agency. In its Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (81 FR 54959), issued Aug. 17, 2016, FDA stated that it had decided to issue guidance regarding conflicts of interest and that it would announce the availability of a draft guidance document through a notice in the Federal Register. As of December 2016, FDA had not yet issued this draft guidance.
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to monitor the appropriateness of companies' GRAS determinations through random audits or some other means, including issuing guidance on how to document GRAS determinations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: On Aug. 17, 2016, FDA published a final rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) (81 FR 54959). This final rule includes a section titled "Guidance on Documenting Conclusions of GRAS Status," which states that FDA is "issuing a guidance" for companies on how to document their GRAS determinations. It is not clear from the rule the time frame for issuing this guidance, whether it will be issued in draft first for comment, and whether it will part of the guidance on conflicts of interest that FDA also plans to issue at a later date, as noted elsewhere in the rule. As of December 2016, FDA had not issued this guidance.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's oversight of dietary supplements and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to better enable FDA to meet its responsibility to regulate dietary supplements that contain new dietary ingredients, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to issue guidance to clarify when an ingredient is considered a new dietary ingredient, the evidence needed to document the safety of new dietary ingredients, and appropriate methods for establishing ingredient identity.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2011, FDA published draft guidance for industry on new dietary ingredient notifications and related issues. This draft guidance includes information on when a dietary ingredient is considered new, evidence of safety, and methods for ingredient identity. We are waiting for the draft guidance to become final to close the recommendation.