Agriculture 1 Wheat

Agriculture: Federal Actions to Protect Pollinators and Improve Agricultural Production (2017-01)

A coordinated federal approach to monitoring the status of wild, native bees would reduce the potential for fragmentation and improve understanding of their population status and threats to their health.

Year Identified: 2017
Area Number: 1
Area Type: Fragmentation, Overlap & Duplication

1 Total Action(s)

Action 1
Partially Addressed

To improve the effectiveness of federal efforts to monitor wild, native bee populations, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Agriculture, as a co-chair of the White House Pollinator Health Task Force, coordinate with other Task Force agencies that have monitoring responsibilities to develop a mechanism, such as a federal monitoring plan, that would (1) establish roles and responsibilities of lead and support agencies, (2) establish shared outcomes and goals, and (3) obtain input from relevant stakeholders, such as states.

Executive Branch
Last Updated
August 31, 2021

As of May 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had taken important actions over the past several years to develop a native bee monitoring plan for monitoring wild, native bees but had not yet fully implemented GAO's February 2016 recommendation. In 2020, USDA funded a university project with experts from around the nation, to form the National Native Bee Monitoring Research Coordination Network to develop a national monitoring plan for wild, native bees. The Network’s first workshop in May 2021 explored large-scale monitoring efforts and determined how infrastructure from existing efforts could be used for their monitoring effort.

Also in 2021, USDA coordinated with other White House Pollinator Task Force agencies to form the Federal Native Bee Monitoring Task Force. The agencies co-chairing the native bee task force with USDA are the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Department of Defense’s Army Corps of Engineers. The task force is also coordinating with the National Native Bee Monitoring Research Coordination Network, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the National Plant Board, the National Association of Conservation Districts, and the Almond Board of California. The first native bee task force meeting was held in February 2021, according to USDA officials. USDA officials said that regular federal task force meetings will follow national network meetings to help synchronize the two efforts. To fully implement this recommendation, USDA, working with other agencies, should develop a mechanism such as a plan, which would establish roles and responsibilities, and shared outcomes and goals, while obtaining input from stakeholders. Some USDA officials told us that without a team to coordinate a monitoring plan, individual agency efforts may be ineffective in providing the needed information in trends on wild, native bees in the United States.

Implementing Entity:
Department of Agriculture
GAO Contacts