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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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Petition Process Improvements

On November 14, 2011, APHIS announced plans to streamline and improve the agency's process for making determinations on petitions for nonregulated status for genetically engineered (GE) organisms. APHIS reviews such petitions in order to determine whether a GE organism poses a plant pest risk and, if not, should no longer be subject to APHIS regulation under 7 CFR part 340.

Since the petition process was first added to APHIS biotechnology regulations in 1993, the time it takes the Agency to reach a final decision has grown from six months on average to three to five years or more. As a result of these improvements, APHIS expects to reduce the length of the petition review by half, while also reducing the variability of the timeframe from one petition to another.

APHIS used Lean Six Sigma (LSS) business process improvement techniques to identify and address the root causes of the length and variability of the process, and to develop improvements to address those underlying root causes.

The new enhancements include:

  • A streamlined, more efficient internal process, eliminating steps now determined to be unnecessary and setting timeframes for completion of individual steps
  • Innovative tools to help managers assign staff and more effectively track progress on individual petitions
  • Expedited internal review and clearance of decisionmaking documents
  • Enhanced opportunities for public input on petitions

By taking these steps, APHIS has delivered to its customers and the public a more predictable process for considering and acting on petitions, without compromising the quality of the analysis supporting our decisionmaking.

The improvements to APHIS' petition process are part of USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack's effort to transform USDA into a high-performing organization that focuses on its customers. These process improvements are part of the USDA Customer Service Plan which identifies key 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.

Learn More about enhancements to the way APHIS solicits public input on petitions

Learn more about transition of pending petitions into the improved process

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