Ag's IG wants faster mad-cow tracking

The Agriculture Department should expedite development of a new disease surveillance system for tracking cattle samples, USDA's inspector general says.

The new system will support Agriculture's expanded program to test cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service plan to increase testing to 200,000 cattle annually, up from 12,500 now.

APHIS should also implement performance measures and a continuous risk assessment to improve management of the program and make it possible to better gauge the program's effectiveness, the IG noted in a recent report.

The system will have to be able to track samples, transmit data, provide negative test results to slaughtering and rendering facilities, create user management reports, and ensure system and data security. Veterinarians and other sample collectors will submit specimen data electronically.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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