RANKING MEMBER BISHOP’S OPENING STATEMENT AT USDA INSPECTOR GENERAL HEARING
Mar 16, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, delivered the following opening statement yesterday during the subcommittee’s hearing on the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA).
Video and background on the subcommittee hearing can be found here. Hearing witnesses included:
Phyllis K. Fong, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Gil H. Harden, Assistant Inspector General for Audit, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ann Coffey, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Below is Congressman Bishop’s full statement as prepared:
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would like to welcome you all this afternoon, Ms. Fong, Mr. Harden and Ms. Coffey.
Thank you for appearing before us again. This is a very distinguished panel and, judging by the many years you have collectively served in the USDA Office of Inspector General, it is evident that you find your work rewarding.
The high quality of your work has been repeatedly recognized, most recently last year when your IG colleagues gave you awards for your audit of SNAP Administrative Costs and the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center that will hopefully lead to better treatment of animals at that facility and more transparency. Congratulations to your office.
As I mentioned last week in our CFTC hearing, we are again in an odd situation, budget-wise, at the moment, with the 2018 bills not finished and a disappointing budget request for 2019. But I appreciate this committee’s focus. We always get the job done and this year will be no exception.
I have an abiding interest in your work. We must do everything we can to root out fraud, abuse and mismanagement.
In a number of cases, states and local governments actually administer programs on behalf of the federal government. But like their federal partners, their budgets are very tight, and they struggle with staffing and training.
We rely on inspectors general to conduct audits and investigations to ensure the programs we fund are run efficiently and that concerns are addressed in a timely manner. In your FY 2018 Annual Plan, you state that you have a goal to recruit, develop, and maintain a highly qualitied diverse workforce. That is why I’m particularly concerned about the proposed 10% cut to your office, including 50 staff years, this year. In addition to USDA programs, I want to ensure that Civil Rights issues are getting thoughtful and appropriate attention throughout the USDA. I look forward to discussing that with you, as well as other important issues.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman.