Monday, January 26, 2009

GAO High Risk Series - the link

Here is the link to the recent GAO High Risk Series. Here is what the 99 page report says about itself:

The list is updated every two years and released at the start of each new Congress to help in setting oversight agendas. Recent Congresses and administrations have been particularly alert to GAO’s High-Risk List and have used its findings to help tailor agency-specific solutions as well as broader initiatives across government.

On Food Safety

In 2007, GAO added the federal oversight of food safety to GAO’s high-risk list because 15 agencies collectively administer at least 30 food-related laws. Since then, the largest food-borne outbreak in the last 10 years was linked to Salmonella in fresh produce. Also, high levels of imported foods underscore the urgency to revamp this system. About 15 percent of the overall U.S. food supply is imported, as is about 60 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables and over 80 percent of seafood. In addition, more of the population—including older adults, children, immune-compromised individuals, and pregnant women—is increasingly susceptible to food-borne illnesses.

What remains to be done

GAO recommends that the President in the short term reconvene the President’s Council on Food Safety and in the long term consider alternative structures for the oversight of food safety. The executive branch should develop a results-oriented governmentwide performance plan to help ensure agencies’ goals are complementary and to help decision makers balance trade-offs when resource allocation and restructuring decisions are made. Congress should consider commissioning the National Academy of Sciences or a blue ribbon panel to conduct a detailed analysis of alternative food safety organizational structures and enact comprehensive, uniform, and risk-based food safety legislation.

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