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Pork Promotion Program: Petition Validation Process Needs to Be Strengthened

RCED-00-274 Published: Sep 28, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2000.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) efforts to validate a petition on whether to continue the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Pork Promotion Program, focusing on: (1) the problems AMS encountered in its process to validate the pork petition and AMS' plans to improve the validation process; (2) factors that led to the USDA Secretary's decision to order the referendum; and (3) whether the USDA Secretary has the authority to order a referendum and whether USDA can use appropriated funds to pay its cost.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To strengthen AMS' petition validation process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, AMS, to develop a uniform petition validation process for pork and all other check-off programs that are based on standard professional practices.
Closed – Implemented
In its statement of January 11, 2001 to GAO, USDA responded that it agreed with and planned to take action on our recommendation. In June 2001, AMS issued a solicitation to consulting firms to develop a uniform petition validation process for all of the agency's commodity promotion programs. According to the Deputy Administrator of AMS, the agency initiated this action based on a directive from the Secretary of Agriculture.
Department of Agriculture To ensure compliance with the Pork Promotion Act, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, AMS, to obtain reimbursement from pork check-off funds to pay all referendum expenses.
Closed – Implemented
In November 2000, Congress authorized the Secretary in Public Law 106-472 to use USDA funds to pay all expenses associated with the vote.

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