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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.


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)
    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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