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GAO Critical of USDA Disease Surveillance Strategy


A new Government Accountability Office report looks at the federal government’s efforts to conduct surveillance activities for animal diseases in livestock and wildlife. More specifically – it examines USDA’s new approach to disease surveillance in livestock and poultry and the extent to which the approach is guided by a strategy with measurable goals and supports broader national bio-surveillance efforts. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service started shifting from a disease-by-disease surveillance approach to one that monitors the overall health of livestock and poultry last year. The GAO report finds APHIS faces several challenges in carrying out this new approach – including obtaining new data from current and additional sources and determining how best to deploy declining resources given increasing fiscal constraints. The GAO also found that APHIS may not be ideally positioned to support national efforts to address the next threat to animal and human health if its vision isn’t integrated into an overall strategy with goals and measures that are aligned with broader national homeland security efforts to detect biological threats.

After monitoring USDA’s new surveillance efforts – it was the determination of the GAO that USDA’s planning documents didn’t provide a clear road map or overall strategy for managing the new approach to animal disease surveillance. The GAO said the documents also don’t include specific information on how the effort would contribute to the national goal of bio-surveillance.

The GAO is recommending that as APHIS develops goals and measures for this new approach – it integrate the agency’s vision into an overall strategy – guiding how it supports national homeland security efforts to enhance the detection of biological threats.

According to Agri-Pulse – USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos said the department agrees with the recommendations and APHIS will include better performance metrics in its planning efforts. In fact – Agri-Pulse reports Avalos said APHIS plans to develop performance measures for its Comprehensive and Integrate Swine Surveillance within the year.


Source: NAFB news service