Just a couple of weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the congressional watchdog agency, issued a report calling for a single food safety agency (see my post on this).
The GAO is working hard on this issue. It has just issued yet another report, this one called FEDERAL FOOD SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Food Safety Working Group Is a Positive First Step but Governmentwide Planning Is Needed to Address Fragmentation.
The report points out some of the alternatives it has suggested in the past:
- A single food safety agency
- A food safety inspection agency
- A data collection and risk analysis center
- A coordination mechanism led by a central chair
GAO and other organizations have regularly paired proposals for alternative food safety organizations with calls for comprehensive, unified, risk-based food safety legislation.
New food safety legislation that was signed into law in January 2011 strengthens a major part of the food safety system; however, it does not apply to the federal food safety system as a whole or create a new risk-based food safety structure.
GAO recommends that the Director of OMB, in consultation with the federal food safety agencies, develop a governmentwide performance plan for food safety that includes results oriented goals and performance measures for food safety oversight and a discussion about strategies and resources.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, GAO has been making these kinds of recommendations for 20 years. Does anyone in government listen? This report notes that the Office of Management and Budget declined to respond to its recommendations.
Responsive government anyone? This seems like a reorganization well worth trying. We only have one food supply. We should not need two agencies to manage its safety risks.