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Joint APHIS/CBP Task Force on the AQI Mission

In April 2007, APHIS and CBP convened a Joint Task Force to evaluate the effectiveness of our agriculture programs and develop recommendations for improvements in areas identified by stakeholders and Government oversight agencies. In mid-June, the task force completed a thorough review of the current agricultural safeguarding system and finalized its report and recommendations with a series of action plans. See below for list of action plans and the Final Report of the Joint APHIS/CBP Task Force on the AQI Mission.

 

June 13, 2008: The Joint Agency Task Force conducted a Stakeholder Conference April 29- May 1, 2008 in Washington D.C. Summaries of the breakout sessions, working sessions with CBP, PPQ and SPRO's, presentations from the plenary session; and conference participant contact information are listed below.

 

Shortly after the stakeholder meeting, the Joint Agency Task Force met to evaluate the ideas and feedback provided during the meeting. The Task Force used the information to strengthen existing action plans, create two new action plans (one for quality assurance activities and one for operations), and identify action items that could be addressed as “low-hanging fruit” without having to develop an action plan. The Task Force also used the information gathered at the stakeholder meeting to establish new priorities. The Task Force determined that its top priorities over the next several months need to be:

  • Identifying what types of information can be shared with States and other stakeholders and establishing effective and efficient systems for information sharing;
  • Establishing minimum standards for the use of pest risk committees and increasing analytical capacity in support of those committees;
  • Continuing to strengthen offshore mitigation activities;
  • Accelerating expansion of and enhancements to the canine program; and
  • Transition planning for a new administration.

 

The Task Force will present additional action items to the Partnership Council for review. The Task Force will continue implementing all of the existing action plans, placing particular emphasis on the action items identified by the Partnership Council as priorities. The Task Force meets quarterly to take advantage of the input from the stakeholder meeting and the Partnership Council meetings and is making great progress on implementing the action plans.
 

Action Plans

The plans address 13 key areas of concern in the AQI function:

  • Structure and Leadership (PDF; 261 Kb)
    Summary: Expand the management infrastructure at CBP with agriculture positions and authorities at levels equivalent to other functional mission areas within the agency
  • Joint Agency Planning (PDF; 220 Kb)
    Summary: Institutionalize the APHIS-CBP Task Force as the central planning group for activities (e.g., strategic planning, establishment of performance measures, annual operating goals/plans) that implement or support the shared mission
  • Resources (PDF; 205 Kb)
    Summary: Develop a more transparent financial tracking system for AQI user fees and other funds for both agencies; Ensure that adequate equipment, supplies, and facilities are available at all ports of entry to support the agriculture mission; Enhance the CBP Agriculture Canine Program through full staffing and proficiency testing; Develop an effective recruitment/retention policy for Agriculture Specialists
  • Emergency Response (PDF; 269 Kb)
    Summary: Develop a joint comprehensive plan to identify and deploy trained and certified personnel in response to the broad range of domestic/agro-bio terrorist event emergencies
  • Training (PDF; 253 Kb)
    Summary: Review and improve the agriculture-related training programs used by CBP; Identify and create specialized training opportunities in pest identification, safeguarding, inspection techniques, bird handling procedures, emergency response, compliance agreements, foreign garbage monitoring, and other areas as needed
  • Outreach and Communication (PDF; 241 Kb)
    Summary: Hold regular stakeholder meetings to enhance communications and seek input on areas of needed improvement; Establish more frequent and effective communications between APHIS and CBP and with the ports to improve information sharing at all levels
  • Performance Measures
    Summary: Develop and implement both joint and CBP program performance measures for AQI activities for various pathways at ports of entry
  • Information Management (PDF; 299 Kb)
    Summary: Harmonize and, where possible, jointly develop databases used for AQI activities to ensure efficient use of resources and data; Develop coordinated short- and long-range plans to improve information system performance; Ensure mutual access to each Agency's databases to support critical activities
  • Regulatory Enforcement (PDF; 368 Kb)
    Summary: Coordinate efforts to maintain an effective and efficient process to enforce agriculture quarantine and inspection laws and regulations; Reinvigorate the Civil Penalties Action Team to develop and modify guidelines and policies regarding consistent agriculture enforcement
  • Improving Pest Identification (PDF; 206 Kb)
    Summary: Develop a joint comprehensive plan to establish standards of service in pest identification, training, and discard authority; Establish and maintain CBP Agriculture Specialist performance elements for discard authority and pest interception
  • Operations (PDF; 131 Kb)
    Summary:
    Develop a joint comprehensive plan to establish and maintain priorities for agriculture-related operational issues
  • Quality Assurance (PDF; 198 Kb)
    Summary: Incorporate quantifiable performance measures into the agriculture mission in order to improve oversight and consistent application of the agriculture inspection policy
  • Canine Operations (PDF; 160 Kb)
    Summary: Maximize the utilization of Agriculture canines in the field to provide for a more efficient and effective layered enforcement of protecting American agriculture

 

 



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