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APHIS Unveils Customer-Driven Improvements and Solutions - Changes Could Achieve Reductions in Processing Times Ranging from 20 to 76 Percent

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Lyndsay Cole (970) 494-7410

Changes Could Achieve Reductions in Processing Times Ranging from 20 to 76 Percent 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2011--As part of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's commitment to transform the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into a customer-focused, high-performing organization, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has unveiled plans to dramatically decrease the time it takes for certain programmatic processes and procedures. These improvements, which could achieve reductions in various agency processing times ranging from 20 to 76 percent, will expedite and improve the delivery of their products and services and reinforce the Secretary's dedication to achieving results.

“APHIS approached this effort with the American people's best interests in mind,” said Gregory Parham, APHIS administrator. “We listened to our customers and committed to making serious changes that help to put our customers first and deliver services not only efficiently and effectively, but also as cost effectively and quickly as possible.”

APHIS began this forward-thinking review process in August 2010, by analyzing and documenting current external and internal processes to determine where improvements could be made, and working hard to develop streamlined solutions. Throughout the year, APHIS specifically focused on making improvements to the following processes:

  • Veterinary biologics licensing--with the goal of reducing the processing time involved in reviewing product license applications from veterinary biologic firms and increasing transparency;
  • Granting nonregulated status to genetically engineered (GE) organisms--with the goal of reducing the overall length and variability of the time it takes for the petition process;
  • Risk assessment and rulemaking regarding petitions to allow imports of animal and plant products--with the goal of improving and streamlining the risk assessment and rulemaking processes for imported animal and plant products; and
  • The enforcement process--with the goal of streamlining the enforcement process against those who jeopardize plant and animal health and animal welfare. Improvements will allow APHIS to focus on the most serious violators, more quickly apply appropriate sanctions, and resolve typical cases in substantially less time.

To analyze and document current processes, determine where improvements could be made, and develop streamlined solutions, APHIS used a variety of formal models, especially Lean Six Sigma--a widely used business process improvement strategy that uses specific proven tools to analyze and identify efficiencies, implement them, and measure the results.

“We believe that it is possible to be both regulatory and business minded at the same time, while actually improving our transparency, accountability and the predictability of our processes,” said Parham. “And APHIS will be providing our customers with valuable savings, something much needed as companies have been increasingly challenged by today's economy.”

APHIS expects to shorten the average time it takes for all the processes selected by between 20 and 76 percent, which will be directly felt by their customers. For instance, by streamlining its GE organism petition process by more than 50 percent, APHIS will reduce timelines down to 13-15 months. APHIS anticipates being able to reduce its veterinary biologics licensing processes by potentially 100 days--or a 20 percent reduction.

APHIS' process improvements are also part of the USDA Customer Service Plan, which identifies key departmental actions and initiatives aimed at improving the customer experience, modernizing and streamlining processes, reducing costs, accelerating delivery and using innovative technology to advance customer service. USDA developed this plan in support of the President's April 27, 2011, Executive Order 13571, on “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service.”

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Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write:
USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call
(800) 795-327 or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). 

 



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