oversight

AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for International Food Assistance Programs

Published by the Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General on 2019-12-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

     United States Department of Agriculture




AMS Storage and Handling of
Commodities for International Food
Assistance Programs




Audit Report 01601-0002-41
December 2019
                                               OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for
International Food Assistance Programs

Audit Report 01601-0002-41
OIG reviewed AMS’ oversight of the storage and handling of U.S.-produced
commodities for international food aid programs.

OBJECTIVE                            WHAT OIG FOUND
Our objectives were to evaluate      The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)
AMS’ oversight of the storage        Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers
and handling of commodities for      the Export Food Aid Commodity (EFAC) program to
international food aid programs
                                     provide U.S.-produced commodities for export food aid on
to ensure: (1) licensed EFAC
operators applied consistent
                                     behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development
standards to maintain safe and       (USAID) and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
sanitary storage conditions and      Commodities are stored at licensed warehouses prior
(2) follow-up was conducted and      to shipping. USAID and FAS coordinate with private
corrective actions were taken by     voluntary organizations to receive these commodities
AMS when warehouse operators         overseas to provide life-saving food assistance to the
were noncompliant with               most vulnerable around the world. During fiscal years
requirements.                        2015–2018, USDA procured over 6.5 million metric tons
                                     (approximately 14.4 billion pounds) of commodities for
REVIEWED                             international food assistance programs, valued at over
We reviewed pertinent                $2.2 billion.
laws, regulations, policies,
and procedures; warehouse            In our review, we found that warehouse operators did
examination reports and vessel       not consistently apply sanitation and safety standards to
loading observation damage           safeguard export food aid. Secondly, we determined that
reports; and pest control activity   759 metric tons (almost 1.7 million pounds) of export food
documentation. We conducted          aid were reported as losses during storage and handling,
site visits to EFAC-licensed
                                     and that a portion of these losses could have been
facilities and interviewed AMS
officials, warehouse examiners,      minimized if EFAC program guidance allowed for a more
and warehouse operators.             cost-effective method to repair damaged EFAC bags.
                                     Lastly, we found that AMS did not ensure EFAC license
RECOMMENDS                           violations were resolved in a timely manner.

We recommend that AMS                If the issues we identified are not mitigated, AMS’
revise and incorporate specific      export food aid could continue to be stored in unsanitary
language into the EFAC
                                     or unsafe conditions, leaving commodities susceptible
Licensing Agreement that will
establish minimum standards for
                                     to loss, damage, and contamination; or risk potential
sanitation practices, pest control   injury to workers. Further, by not being able to quickly
procedures, and the condition        repair bags damaged in storage and handling, more
of pallets and dunnage used          commodities than necessary could continue to be
at EFAC facilities; update the       discarded, resulting in AMS continuing to under-deliver
guidance for repairing packaged      the amount of food aid it intends to provide its recipients.
commodities; develop policies
and procedures that establish        AMS officials concurred with our 10 recommendations.
roles, responsibilities, and
timeframes for following up with
EFAC licensees after violations;
establish a method to track
license violations; and designate
the appropriate resources to
oversee compliance issues.
                           United States Department of Agriculture
                                  Office of Inspector General
                                    Washington, D.C. 20250



DATE:          December 18, 2019

AUDIT
NUMBER:        01601-0002-41

TO:            Bruce Summers
               Administrator
               Agricultural Marketing Service

ATTN:          Frank Woods
               Chief, Internal Audits
               Compliance Safety & Security Division

FROM:          Gil H. Harden
               Assistant Inspector General for Audit

SUBJECT:       AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for International Food Assistance
               Programs


This report presents the results of the subject review. Your written response to the official draft
is included in its entirety at the end of the report. We have incorporated excerpts from your
response, and the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) position, into the relevant sections of the
report. Based on your written response, we are accepting management decision for all 10 audit
recommendations in the report, and no further response to this office is necessary. Please follow
your internal agency procedures in forwarding final action correspondence to the Office of the
Chief Financial Officer (OCFO).

In accordance with Departmental Regulation 1720-1, final action needs to be taken within 1 year of
each management decision to prevent being listed in the Department’s annual Agency Financial
Report. For agencies other than the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), please follow
your internal agency procedures in forwarding final action correspondence to OCFO.

We appreciate the courtesies and cooperation extended to us by members of your staff during our
audit fieldwork and subsequent discussions. This report contains publicly available information and
will be posted in its entirety to our website (http://www.usda.gov/oig) in the near future.
Table of Contents

Background and Objectives ................................................................................... 1
Section 1: Warehouse Sanitation and Safety ....................................................... 3
Finding 1: Warehouse Operators Did Not Consistently Apply Sanitation and
Safety Standards ..................................................................................................... 3
         Recommendation 1 ........................................................................................8
         Recommendation 2 ........................................................................................8
         Recommendation 3 ........................................................................................9
         Recommendation 4 ........................................................................................9
Finding 2: AMS Had Not Reviewed the Guidance for EFAC Bag Repair ..... 11
         Recommendation 5 ......................................................................................13
         Recommendation 6 ......................................................................................14
Section 2: AMS Follow-Up and Corrective Actions ......................................... 15
Finding 3: AMS Did Not Resolve EFAC License Violations in a Timely
Manner ................................................................................................................... 15
         Recommendation 7 ......................................................................................17
         Recommendation 8 ......................................................................................18
         Recommendation 9 ......................................................................................18
         Recommendation 10 ....................................................................................18
Scope and Methodology ........................................................................................ 20
Abbreviations ........................................................................................................ 22
Agency’s Response ................................................................................................ 23
Background and Objectives
Background
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S.
producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. In September 2017, the USDA Secretary
announced the realignment of a number of offices and programs within the Department.1 Under
this announcement, AMS assumed responsibility for the International Food Aid component of
the Commodity Procurement Program, the U.S. Warehouse Act (USWA), and Commodity
Credit Corporation (CCC) warehousing and commodity management activities from the Farm
Service Agency.

AMS’ International Procurement Division (IPD) manages procurements of U.S.-produced
commodities for export food aid on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Commodities are stored at licensed
warehouses prior to shipping. USAID and FAS coordinate with private voluntary organizations
to receive these commodities overseas to provide life-saving food assistance to the most
vulnerable around the world.2

The current food aid programs originate from Public Law 83-480 (P.L. 480), which was enacted
in 1954. P.L. 480 has been amended several times and is now commonly known as the Food for
Peace Act (FFPA). FFPA originally utilized donations from a surplus of Government-owned
crops which had been accumulated under USDA commodity price support programs. One of the
original goals of FFPA was to support humanitarian and geopolitical missions in foreign
countries.

Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill (P.L. 99-198, S.1104), USDA agencies have supported
these goals by procuring food products such as oil, wheat, and sorghum from qualified vendors
in the United States for distribution by several international food assistance programs. 3 During
fiscal years (FY) 2015–2018, USDA procured over 6.5 million metric tons (approximately
14.4 billion pounds) of commodities for international food assistance programs, valued at over
$2.2 billion.

USWA authorizes the Secretary to license warehouse operators to store agricultural products. 4
Application for a license is voluntary; however, warehouse operators that apply must meet
USDA standards established by USWA. To store and handle commodities for international food

1
  USDA Press, Secretary Perdue Announces USDA Improvements for Customer Service & Efficiency, Release
No. 0104.17 (Sept. 7, 2017), https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2017/09/07/secretary-perdue-announces-
usda-improvements-customer-service.
2
  Private voluntary organizations include both U.S.-based and indigenous private voluntary organizations,
cooperative development organizations, and non-governmental organizations, unless otherwise specified.
3
  Programs include the Food for Progress Program, the McGovern Dole International Food and Education and Child
Nutrition Program, and the Food for Peace Program, which all provide food assistance around the world.
4
  7 U.S.C. §242

                                                                     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41             1
aid, warehouse operators are required to obtain an Export Food Aid Commodity (EFAC) license.
The Warehouse and Commodity Management Division (WCMD), under AMS’ Fair Trade
Practices Program, administers the USWA and CCC storage agreements. WCMD is divided into
the Licensing Branch, which issues licenses and handles compliance issues, and the Examination
Branch, which is responsible for the examinations (inspections) of the licensed facilities.

The EFAC Licensing Agreement for warehouse operators lists the qualifications and duties of
licensees. Following the issuance of an EFAC license, covered facilities are subject to periodic,
unannounced examinations conducted by AMS warehouse examiners to verify that safety and
sanitation conditions outlined in the licensing agreement are upheld. These examinations include
reviews of warehouse records; pest management and control activities; and the housekeeping,
safety, and security of goods in the care and custody of the licensee. During these visits,
warehouse examiners review conditions and document their findings on a prescribed warehouse
examination form.5 Warehouse examiners subsequently inform warehouse management of the
results of their reviews and will issue reports requiring corrective action if discrepancies are
noted.

To ship overseas, EFAC is transferred from warehouses to seagoing vessels6 by placing the
commodity either: (1) directly into the hold of seagoing vessels, or (2) into shipping containers
that are subsequently sealed and placed onto seagoing vessels. This process is conducted under
the supervision of a vessel loading observation (VLO) contractor.7 After the loading process is
complete, the VLO contractor certifies the quantity of commodity loaded and documents any
damages or losses to commodity that occurred during this process.

Objectives
Our objectives were to evaluate AMS’ oversight of the storage and handling of commodities for
international food aid programs to ensure: (1) licensed EFAC operators applied consistent
standards to maintain safe and sanitary storage conditions and (2) follow-up was conducted and
corrective actions were taken by AMS when warehouse operators were noncompliant with
requirements.




5
  Form WA-580, Port Facility Inspection Checklist (Mar. 27, 2006).
6
  Seagoing vessels are constructed to travel across the sea, not just near a coast or on rivers.
7
  A VLO contractor is an employee of a private-sector firm who ensures that only clean and undamaged EFAC
cargo is loaded onto seagoing vessels.

2     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Section 1: Warehouse Sanitation and Safety
Finding 1: Warehouse Operators Did Not Consistently Apply Sanitation and
Safety Standards
Warehouse operators did not consistently apply sanitation and safety standards to safeguard
export food aid. During our review, we observed instances where warehouse operators stored
export food aid in: (1) unsanitary facilities, (2) facilities with evidence of rodent harborage or
other pests, and (3) conditions that could impact worker safety. This occurred because the
current language in the EFAC Licensing Agreement is too broad and can therefore be left open
for interpretation, leading to discrepancies in the application of standards by operators. If
warehouse operators do not consistently apply sanitation and safety standards, export food aid
could continue to be stored in unsanitary or unsafe conditions, leaving commodities susceptible
to loss, damage, and contamination; or risk potential injury to workers.

To store and handle export food aid, warehouse operators must certify that they will operate
licensed facilities in accordance with the USDA EFAC Licensing Agreement. This agreement
requires licensees to “exercise, at all times, such care in regard to EFAC as a reasonably prudent
owner would exercise under the same circumstances and conditions and not handle and/or store
such products in a manner that would cause or contribute to product loss, damage, or
contamination.” 8 Specifically, the agreement requires warehouse operators to:

       Maintain “a reasonably clean facility at all times, free of materials that could create a
        hazard or interfere with the handling of EFAC, and provide a safe environment in and
        around the storage and/or handling facility;”
       Maintain “a comprehensive pest control program that keeps the facility free of insects,
        rodents, birds, and any other pests that may adversely affect the condition of EFAC;” and
       Store EFAC with “proper dunnage and pallets that are suitable for proper storage.” 9

To ensure compliance with the agreement, AMS warehouse examiners perform unannounced
visits to licensed facilities to inspect conditions and document violations of the agreement on
warehouse examination reports, which is communicated to warehouse operators via the WA-125
Memorandum of Adjustments form.

In our review,10 we found that while some warehouse operators maintained adequate storage
conditions, we observed other facilities where: (1) EFAC was stored in unsanitary conditions,
(2) licensees did not maintain sufficient documentation of pest control activities performed, and


8
  WA-502, Licensing Agreement for Export Food Aid Commodity Warehouse Operators (Apr. 3, 2012).
9
  “Dunnage” is defined as the packing material such as boards, blocks, planks, or plastic bracing used in supporting
and securing packages for shipping and handling. According to AMS personnel, dunnage is used between pallets to
help secure pallets and prevent damage when loading and off-loading commodity with forklifts.
10
   We reviewed documentation for eight EFAC licensees who were in the program during our fieldwork as of
May 2019 and had EFAC activities in the previous 6 months. In addition, we visited these eight facilities to observe
sanitation and safety conditions. See the Scope and Methodology section for more details.

                                                                         AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41               3
(3) EFAC was stored on unsuitable pallets that could damage product or potentially injure
workers. Specific details of the concerns we noted during our review are described below.

Warehouse Sanitation

In our review of prior warehouse examination reports,11 we determined that six of the eight
licensees stored EFAC in facilities with sanitation issues. For these 6 licensees, AMS warehouse
examiners reported 69 sanitation issues, which included instances of trash, unused equipment, or
spilled commodity on warehouse grounds and/or premises; and general housekeeping issues.
During our site visits, we observed the same conditions identified in the examination reports.

When we discussed our observations with AMS warehouse examiners, they informed us that
warehouse cleanliness has been a challenge for some licensees. While some warehouse
operators maintained thorough sanitation practices at their facilities, others did not make it a
priority. For example, during a facility walkthrough, we observed spilled commodity that was
left on the floor throughout the warehouse. Such spillage can attract rodents and other pests,
which could contaminate the stored commodity. Figure 1 shows our observation of product
spillage that had been left on the warehouse floor; we observed this spillage during a site visit.




        Figure 1. Commodity spillage on the warehouse floor. Photo by USDA OIG.

When we spoke with the warehouse operator about the issue, he stated that he believed the
facility was clean and provided the AMS warehouse examiner with a written response stating
that it was cleaned every other day. Despite what the warehouse operator stated, the conditions
we observed put export food aid at risk for pest infestation or contamination. We also
questioned the stated frequency or thoroughness of the sanitation practices because we also



11
  We reviewed 148 warehouse examination reports conducted during FYs 2015–2018, for the 8 licensees that
actively stored EFAC during our fieldwork.

4     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
observed spilled commodity (a type of bean) left on the warehouse floor so long that it had
begun to sprout.12 Figure 2, shows the observed beans that had sprouted on the warehouse floor.




        Figure 2. Commodity (a type of bean) left on the warehouse floor that had sprouted.
        Photo by USDA OIG.

Although the licensing agreement provides general guidance for maintaining a “reasonably clean
facility,” it does not specify when or how often a facility should be cleaned, nor does it require
warehouse operators to maintain documentation of the sanitation activities performed for the
AMS warehouse examiner to verify.

To improve consistency of sanitation practices, AMS needs to incorporate specific language into
the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum standards for sanitation procedures
at EFAC facilities. This language should ensure that: (1) facilities are cleaned on a daily basis
when USDA commodities are stored and handled and (2) warehouse operators maintain written
records of the sanitation activity, documenting what was performed and when.

Pest Control Activities

In our review of the warehouse examination reports, we determined that six of eight licensees
stored EFAC in facilities with pest issues. For these 6 licensees, AMS warehouse examiners
reported 41 pest control deficiencies, which included actual observance of pests or insects during
warehouse examinations; improperly maintained doors, windows, and entry points; and having
inadequate pest control services. During our site visits, we observed pests or evidence of pests,
including chewed-open bags, rodent feces or dead rodents, birds, and plumage. Figure 3 shows a
chewed-open bag with fresh rodent feces around stored EFAC.



12
  Depending on conditions, such as amounts of moisture and sunlight, beans can take several days or even weeks to
sprout.

                                                                       AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41              5
       Figure 3. A chewed-open bag with fresh rodent feces around stored EFAC.
       Photo by USDA OIG.

Since AMS warehouse examiners do not have a constant presence at EFAC-licensed facilities,
they must rely on records that are maintained at each site to ensure warehouse operators employ
proper pest control practices. However, without sufficient records of pest control activities,
warehouse examiners cannot properly evaluate the sufficiency of warehouse pest control
programs.

Although the EFAC Licensing Agreement currently requires licensees to maintain a
comprehensive pest control program, the document does not describe what specific records must
be obtained to satisfy this requirement. We spoke with AMS warehouse examiners and they
believed, at a minimum, pest control plans should include: (1) service reports that provide
specific information about pest control services rendered and the number, types, and locations of
pest control devices/chemicals used; (2) activity logs that document the number and location of
pests captured by the pest control company; and (3) pest sighting logs for facility staff to
document observed pest activity. We evaluated documentation supporting pest control activities
for the eight licensees and determined that only one licensee had all of the documentation
examiners needed to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Without additional information that outlines how a pest control program should be maintained,
EFAC warehouse operators will continue to be unaware of the records AMS warehouse
examiners need to evaluate pest control programs. To improve consistency of the documentation
that licensees maintain for pest mitigation, AMS should incorporate specific language into the
EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum standards for the required
documentation for an effective pest control program.




6    AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
EFAC Stored on Unsuitable Pallets or Without Dunnage

During our site visits, we observed EFAC stored in conditions that could impact worker safety or
lead to product loss or contamination. Specifically, we observed commodities stored on pallets
that: (1) were broken with protruding nails or splinters; (2) did not have dunnage to prevent
product slippage; or (3) were unclean and contained product from previous shipments.

Individual bags of EFAC typically weigh 110 pounds and are placed on pallets that may contain
a total of 30 to 50 bags. During storage at the facility, four or five pallets of EFAC are stacked
on top of each other, to a height up to 20 feet. The use of pallets keeps the product off
warehouse floors and allows stacked product to be easily transferred with a forklift. The use of
damaged pallets or lack of dunnage could result in damaged commodity bags or reduce the
structural integrity of stacked EFAC. If the stacked commodity collapsed, it could cause serious
injury to workers. Furthermore, pallets left uncleaned directly affect the sanitation conditions of
the facility because it can attract pests, which would lead to product loss through contamination.
Figure 4 shows an example of EFAC we observed that was stored on an unclean, broken pallet
without the use of dunnage.




       Figure 4. EFAC stored on an unclean, broken pallet without the use of dunnage.
       Photo by USDA OIG.

When we spoke with AMS warehouse examiners about the issue, they informed us that they
would often identify EFAC stored on pallets that were similar to the conditions we observed, but
the warehouse operators would claim it was adequate, despite obvious safety and sanitation
issues. The examiners we spoke with agreed that the ambiguity of the pallet and dunnage
requirements leave room for interpretation and should be clarified.

To further reduce the loss of EFAC and increase the safety of persons in close proximity to
stacked pallets, AMS should include provisions in the EFAC Licensing Agreement that define
the condition of the pallets used, and the appropriateness or frequency of the use of dunnage.


                                                                 AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41       7
The EFAC Licensing Agreement has not been assessed since the program was established in
2012 to ensure that the program was operating as intended. Performing periodic reviews of
guidance is important because if standards are not applied consistently, export food aid is
susceptible to loss, damage, or contamination.

AMS officials agreed with our findings and stated that since assuming responsibility for the
program from the Farm Service Agency in 2017, they were planning to review the licensing
agreement in the near future. Therefore, to improve the consistency of sanitation and safety
standards applied by warehouse operators to safeguard export food aid, AMS needs to perform a
review of the EFAC Licensing Agreement and make revisions to the licensing agreement as
necessary to: (1) ensure uniformity in the application of standards and (2) identify deficiencies
and areas of improvement.


Recommendation 1

Perform a review of the EFAC Licensing Agreement and make revisions to the licensing
agreement as necessary to: (1) ensure uniformity in the application of standards and (2) identify
deficiencies and areas of improvement.

Agency Response
AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiners and warehouse licensing experts to
review the current EFAC Licensing Agreement. Revisions to the licensing agreement will
address enforcement specifications to ensure uniformity in the application of standards, and
clearly rectify deficiencies and address areas of improvement. AMS will consult with internal
customers, as well as receive legal approval from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), in
making changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register.
The estimated completion date is June 30, 2020.
.
OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 2

Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum
standards for sanitation procedures at EFAC facilities. This language should ensure that:
(1) facilities are cleaned on a daily basis when USDA commodities are stored and (2) warehouse
operators maintain written records of the sanitation activity documenting what and when
cleaning activities were performed.




8    AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Agency Response
AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiners and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will establish minimum standards for sanitation procedures in
the EFAC Licensing Agreement. Program participants will be required to clean facilities daily
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to maintain written
records of the sanitation activity documenting what and when cleaning activities were
performed. Those records will be inspected as part of any warehouse examination. AMS will
consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal approval from OGC, in making changes
to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register. The estimated
completion date is June 30, 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 3

Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum
standards for required documentation that demonstrates an effective pest control program.

Agency Response
AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiners and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will establish minimum standards for required documentation
that demonstrates an effective pest control program in the EFAC Licensing Agreement. Program
participants will be required to have an effective pest control program in warehouse facilities
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to document the
implemented, effective pest control program, including what and when the pest control activities
were performed. Those records will be inspected as part of any warehouse examination. AMS
will consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal approval from OGC, in making
changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register. The
estimated completion date is June 30, 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 4

Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will define the condition
of the pallets used and the appropriateness or frequency of the use of dunnage.




                                                             AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41        9
Agency Response
AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiners and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will define the condition of the pallets used and the
appropriateness or frequency of the use of dunnage in the EFAC Licensing Agreement. Program
participants will be required to replace damaged pallets and dunnage in warehouse facilities
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to document
replacement of damaged pallets and dunnage. Those records will be inspected as part of any
warehouse examination. AMS will consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal
approval from OGC, in making changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in
the Federal Register. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.




10    AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Finding 2: AMS Had Not Reviewed the Guidance for EFAC Bag Repair
In FYs 2015–2018, 759 metric tons (almost 1.7 million pounds) of export food aid were reported
as losses in the storage and handling of EFAC.13 However, a portion of these losses could have
been minimized if EFAC program guidance allowed for a more cost-effective method to repair
damaged EFAC bags.14 This occurred because AMS had not reviewed the guidance to allow for
other viable bag repair methods to reduce product loss. As a result, more EFAC than necessary
was discarded, thereby under-delivering the amount of food aid for its intended recipients. In
addition, by not being able to quickly repair bags damaged in storage and handling, further
product spillage could negatively affect the sanitation conditions of EFAC facilities, increasing
the risk of product contamination.

USDA transports EFAC to its final destination in bags made from either paper or woven
polypropylene material. Inadvertent damage to these bags, such as rips and tears, can occur in
storage and during transport. One of AMS’ objectives in its FY 2014–2018 strategic plan is to
“continue to strive for new efficiencies, improvements, and cost savings in key functions and
processes.”15 However, AMS had not reviewed the EFAC program’s methods of bag repair for
packaged commodities since assuming responsibility for the program from the Farm Service
Agency in September 2017. The guidance currently applied to repairing woven polypropylene
bags, issued in May 2002, states that “bags with small punctures that permit the commodity to
flow from the bag may be recoopered [i.e., repaired] by sewing or stitching” and “bags with a
significant tear or hole must be rejected or re-bagged.”16

During our visits to six EFAC-licensed facilities, we observed multiple instances of stored
commodity in EFAC bags that had small tears or holes.17, 18 When we discussed this issue with
AMS warehouse examiners, they stated that this damage typically occurs through: (1) the
mishandling of EFAC cargo by handlers in the unloading process, (2) forklift tongs inadvertently
piercing bags, and (3) quality control testing.19 Figure 5 shows an example of one of the small
tears that we observed on EFAC woven polypropylene bags in storage.




13
   For FYs 2015–2018, USDA procured over 6.5 million metric tons (approximately 14.4 billion pounds) of
commodities for export food aid.
14
   Another option to repair damaged prepackaged commodity bags is food-grade tape. Food-grade tape is a
pressure-sensitive adhesive made of materials that are recognized as safe for food by the Food and Drug
Administration. However, the use of food-grade tape is currently not an allowable option to repair EFAC bags.
15
   Agricultural Marketing Service FY 2014–2018 Strategic Plan.
16
   USDA Export Operations Directive-110, Recoopering Packaged Commodities for Food Aid Programs (May 10,
2002).
17
   We performed site visits at six EFAC-licensed facilities that stored export food aid in woven polypropylene bags.
These facilities stored and handled packaged EFAC, such as rice, corn, and beans.
18
   Our universe included eight EFAC licensees that actively stored EFAC. Of the eight facilities we visited, two
 facilities did not store bagged commodities.
19
   For example, USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service conducts quality control testing by sampling commodity,
which creates small holes in bags.

                                                                       AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41                11
              Figure 5. A small tear in an EFAC woven polypropylene bag in storage.
              Photo by USDA OIG.


In addition, one AMS warehouse examiner added that small tears in bags can be become larger
from further handling of the product or the weight that each packaged commodity must bear when
stacked on top of one another on pallets. For example, Figure 6, below, shows a tear in a woven
polypropylene bag, which allowed commodity (rice) to spill onto the warehouse floor.




              Figure 6. A tear in an EFAC woven polypropylene bag which allowed rice to
              spill onto the warehouse floor. Photo by USDA OIG.




12     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
We reviewed EFAC damage reports for FYs 2015–2018 and found that almost 1.7 million
pounds of commodities were reported as losses.20 Although AMS has methods in place to repair
EFAC bags through stitching or repackaging, we found that some warehouse operators believed
that these methods were not practical or cost-effective because of the labor costs involved.
Accordingly, they opted to discard bags of commodities rather than salvage the product. The
guidance does not discuss the use of other methods to repair EFAC bags; VLO contractors
interpreted this guidance literally—that only re-stitching or re-bagging was allowed, and that
other repair methods, such as food-grade tape, were prohibited. At each of the sites we visited,
both warehouse operators and examiners concurred that a change in the guidance to allow for the
use of food-grade tape would be beneficial, as it would provide a quick and cost-effective
remedy to stop spillage, which would help reduce sanitation issues and unnecessary waste.

Furthermore, the guidance to repair damage to EFAC bags was issued over 17 years ago and
should be reassessed. AMS recently assumed responsibility for the EFAC program from the
Farm Service Agency in 2017 and has not yet assessed the program to identify improvements
needed or new efficiencies to utilize. We spoke with AMS officials at WCMD, IPD, and the
Contract Reconciliation Division, and they all agreed that the guidance was outdated and were
willing to review and consider other methods for bag repair.

EFAC is sent overseas to help reduce hunger and malnutrition in countries in need. Renewed
efforts to minimize waste would result in AMS delivering more of its intended amount of export
food aid to program recipients. Therefore, AMS should: (1) review the guidance for repairing
packaged commodities for food aid programs to consider alternative methods for bag repair, such
as the use of food-grade tape, and if viable, incorporate them into the updated guidance; and
(2) distribute any updated guidance to AMS staff, EFAC-licensed warehouse operators, and
VLO contractors.

Recommendation 5

Review the guidance for repairing packaged commodities for food aid programs to consider
alternative methods for bag repair, such as the use of food-grade tape, and if viable, update the
guidance to incorporate additional methods.

Agency Response
The International Procurement Division will work with USAID, FAS, and WCMD to update and
re-issue guidance for recoopering commodities and repairing damaged packaging at U.S. load
ports, warehouses, and transload facilities. Revisions to the licensing agreement will include
enforcement language placing more accountability on the operators of said facilities for the
repair of damaged packaging. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2020.



20
  For FYs 2015–2018, the total loss of EFAC was 1,670,275 pounds. Of this total, 1,093,290 pounds (65.5 percent)
 were packaged in woven polypropylene bags and 576,985 pounds (34.5 percent) were packaged in paper bags.
 Vegetable oil was not included in the product loss total as it is a liquid and therefore packaged in tin cans.

                                                                     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41             13
OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 6

Distribute any updated guidance to AMS staff, EFAC-licensed warehouse operators, and VLO
contractors.

Agency Response
When the updated document on recoopering commodities and repairing damaged packaging at
U.S. load ports, warehouses, and transload facilities is finalized, it will be distributed to the
industry via a variety of methods including special notice issued by Gov Delivery, notification
by the Government listserve subscription, and direct email. The estimated completion date is
June 30, 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.




14     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Section 2: AMS Follow-Up and Corrective Actions
Finding 3: AMS Did Not Resolve EFAC License Violations in a Timely
Manner
AMS warehouse examiners are responsible for inspecting EFAC-licensed facilities to ensure that
license holders are operating in accordance with the licensing agreement. However, we found
that once license violations were identified, AMS neither ensured that issues were resolved
timely nor initiated corrective actions to address continued noncompliance. For six of the eight
active EFAC licensees,21 AMS warehouse examiners documented repeated violations on
consecutive examinations, with one issue taking over 26 months to resolve. This occurred
because AMS did not have formal policies or procedures in place to follow up with EFAC
licensees and track repeated violations to ensure that corrective actions were taken in a timely
manner. As a result, AMS risks exposing export food aid to unfit storage conditions for
extensive amounts of time, leaving it susceptible to contamination and product loss.22

The EFAC Licensing Agreement for warehouse operators gives the agency authority to apply
corrective actions, such as suspension or revocation of a license, and take necessary means to
protect export food aid “if the licensee fails to: perform services required by [the EFAC
Licensing Agreement]; maintain control of the facility; provide a safe work environment; or
ensure adequate security or protection of stored or handled EFAC from tampering or
adulteration.”23

AMS warehouse examiners document violations of the licensing agreement, such as warehouse
cleanliness issues, identification of pests, or inadequate pallets, on the Port Facility Inspection
Checklist (WA-580) during their inspections of EFAC facilities. AMS warehouse examiners
communicate the issues identified for corrective action to the warehouse operator on a
Memorandum of Adjustments Form (WA-125). Once this WA-125 is received, warehouse
operators then have 15 days to address each violation or to provide a corrective action plan.
However, we found that AMS does not track the status of WA-125s to ensure that warehouse
operators resolved identified issues timely or initiated corrective actions, when necessary.

In our review of prior warehouse examination reports, we found that six of the eight facilities
had repeated violations on three or more consecutive examinations.24, 25 Of the six facilities
identified, three facilities had repeated violations that ranged from 9 to 16 consecutive


21
   These eight EFAC license holders had stored and handled EFAC in the previous 6 months of our audit fieldwork.
See our Scope and Methodology section for more details.
22
   In March 2019, one facility we reviewed had discarded over 100,000 pounds of EFAC cargo due to rodent
infestation.
23
   WA-502, Licensing Agreement for Export Food Aid Commodity Warehouse Operators (Apr. 3, 2012).
24
   We reviewed 148 prior warehouse examination reports conducted during FYs 2015–2018 on eight active EFAC-
licensed facilities to determine if identified issues were resolved in a timely manner.
25
   The WA-580 includes all the violations identified by the warehouse examiner for every inspection conducted,
whereas the WA-125 is provided to the warehouse operator initially, but may not be reissued in a subsequent
examination report if the violation has not yet been resolved. Therefore, we reviewed the WA-580 checklists to
determine if violations were repeated on consecutive examinations.

                                                                     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41              15
examinations. For these three facilities, it took from 6 to 26 months for AMS to ensure
violations were resolved by the licensee from when the violations were first identified. Despite
these lengthy timeframes for corrective action, only one EFAC licensee was suspended by
AMS.26 Table 1, below, shows the number and type of repeated violations for the three facilities
during consecutive warehouse examinations.

Table 1. Number of Repeated Violations, by Type, on Consecutive Warehouse Examinations for
FYs 2015–2018

                                                                         Number of Repeated Violations by:
 Type of License Violation                                              Licensee A     Licensee B     Licensee C
 Structure Not Properly Maintained                                                          13            10
 Weeds, clutter, trash, unused equipment, or spilled commodities             9                            16
 Inadequate /unclean pallets                                                                               3
 Storage areas not kept dry                                                                                7
 Pests or insects                                                            4                             4
 Doors, windows and entry points are not maintained to discourage
                                                                             8
 bird entry
 Warehouse not inspected for rodent activity and infestation on a
                                                                                            6
 routine and frequent basis

When we spoke to WCMD officials about this issue, we learned that there are currently no AMS
internal policies or procedures on whether or how they follow up with EFAC licensees after
violations have been identified. Furthermore, WCMD officials informed us that several years
ago, a compliance officer was responsible for tracking the status of WA-125s to determine if the
issues were resolved timely or if corrective actions needed to be initiated on repeat violations.
When this individual retired, the functions of the position were informally assumed by other
WCMD staff; however, this position was never filled and no additional resources were allocated
to this function. A WCMD official informed us that because of this, there were “duplication of
efforts” from different levels or “some compliance issues could slip through the cracks.”

If follow-up is not conducted timely and appropriate corrective actions are not taken, AMS risks
exposing export food aid to unfit storage conditions for extensive amounts of time, leaving it
susceptible to contamination and product loss. For instance, at one EFAC facility we visited,
referred to as “Licensee A,” over 100,000 pounds of export food aid was contaminated by a
rodent infestation and subsequently discarded prior to shipment.27 We initially visited
Licensee A’s facility in October 2018 and found several sanitation issues, such as spillage
throughout the warehouse floor, sludge on the ground, and evidence of rodent infestation.
Although the warehouse examiner had initially identified these issues in July 2018 and issued


26
   Licensee C had a history of reoccurring violations over a 26 month period and was eventually suspended (see
Table 1 for violations).
27
   This facility is referenced as “Licensee A” in Table 1.

16      AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
multiple WA-125 forms noting these issues prior to our visit, the warehouse operator had not
initiated any corrective actions. We performed a followup site visit to Licensee A’s facility in
March 2019 and found that the issues with the facility had escalated. For example, there was
overt evidence of rodent infestation (e.g., rodent feces on the warehouse floor, chewed open
bags, and a rat carcass near the commodities). While unloading the pallet at the facility, a live
rat’s nest was uncovered and the contaminated product had to be discarded.

The product loss at this facility could have been prevented if AMS had followed up on the
warehouse violations and taken the appropriate corrective actions in a timely manner. Since
July 2018, the warehouse examiner had reported this same issue in 14 subsequent examinations.
After the EFAC was lost, AMS took action to rectify the situation by requiring the warehouse
operator to provide detailed records of sanitation and pest control activities. Despite the
warehouse operator’s compliance with AMS’ requests, it is imperative that AMS continues to
monitor the warehouse operator’s progress to ensure that improvements are being made. If not,
AMS should consider the suspension or revocation of the warehouse operator’s EFAC license.

AMS officials agreed with our concerns and stated they are currently developing internal
standard operating procedures for compliance issues. In addition, they stated that a recruitment
announcement for a compliance officer position is in progress.

Therefore, to ensure adequate oversight of the EFAC program and safeguard export food aid
from further contamination and loss, AMS should: (1) develop policies and procedures that
establish roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for following up with EFAC licensees after
violations are identified; (2) establish a method to track license violations to ensure that they are
addressed timely and appropriate corrective actions are initiated for repeated violations;
(3) designate the appropriate resource that will be responsible for overseeing compliance issues,
including follow-up with EFAC licensees to ensure resolution on license violations or initiation
of appropriate corrective actions, when necessary; and (4) continue to monitor progress with
EFAC Licensee A, and, if significant improvements are not made within a reasonable timeframe,
consider initiating corrective action, such as suspending the license.


Recommendation 7

Develop policies and procedures that establish roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for
following up with EFAC licensees after violations are identified.

Agency Response
AMS has hired a GS-13 Senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including developing policies and standard operating procedures
and policies that establish the roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for following up with EFAC
licensees after violations are identified. The estimated completion date is April 30, 2020.

                                                              AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41            17
OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 8

Establish a method to track license violations to ensure they are addressed timely and appropriate
corrective actions are initiated for repeated violations.

Agency Response
AMS has hired a GS-13 Senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including establishing a method to track license violations to
ensure they are addressed timely and appropriate corrective actions are initiated for repeated
violations. The individual in the compliance position will closely coordinate with supervisors of
warehouse examiners to expedite followup examinations and ensure corrective actions are
implemented. The estimated completion date is April 30, 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 9

Designate the appropriate resource that will be responsible for overseeing compliance issues,
including follow-up with EFAC licensees to ensure resolution on license violations or initiation
of appropriate corrective actions, as necessary.

Agency Response
AMS has hired a GS-13 senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including follow-up with EFAC licensees to ensure resolution on
license violations or initiation of appropriate corrective actions, as necessary. This was
completed in November 2019.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.

Recommendation 10

Continue to monitor progress with EFAC Licensee A, and, if significant improvements are not
made within a reasonable timeframe, consider initiating corrective actions, such as suspension or
revocation of its license.


18     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Agency Response
AMS has determined that all previous violations of Licensee A found during the audit period
were corrected and administratively closed. A separate, unrelated violation, not a reoccurrence,
was issued on October 29, 2019. A letter of reprimand was sent to the warehouse operator
asking for an immediate correction or appropriate corrective action plan to be submitted by
November 13, 2019. Licensee A submitted a timely corrective action plan stating that the
violation will be corrected by November 22, 2019. WCMD staff will inspect Licensee A’s
warehouse the week of November 25, 2019, to verify compliance against the corrective plan
assertion. Suspension of license will be initiated if not responsive. The estimated completion
date for a year of continuous monitoring is in November 2020.

OIG Position
We accept AMS’ management decision on this recommendation.




                                                            AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41        19
Scope and Methodology
We conducted an audit of AMS’ administration of the EFAC program. The scope of our audit
work covered program activities from FYs 2015 through 2018 and site observations from
October 2018 through April 2019. We began our audit in August 2018 at the AMS National
Office in Washington, D.C., and completed our fieldwork in June 2019. We performed
fieldwork at WCMD in Kansas City, Missouri, and at eight non-statistically selected
EFAC-licensed facilities storing export food aid in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas.

To determine our sample for review, we considered storage and handling activities for EFAC
and the status of the EFAC licensees during the course of our audit.28 Based on these factors, we
non-statistically selected eight EFAC licensees who were in the program during our fieldwork as
of May 2019 and had EFAC activities in the previous 6 months. In addition, we conducted site
visits at these eight facilities to observe the storage and handling of EFAC.

To accomplish our objectives, we:

        Reviewed pertinent laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and guidance to gain an
         understanding of the program. This included USWA, Federal regulations governing
         agency warehouse storage and inspection requirements for international food assistance
         programs, USDA directives, and the EFAC Licensing Agreement.

        Interviewed AMS officials, including staff at WCMD’s Examination and Licensing
         branches, IPD, and Contract Reconciliation Division to gain an understanding of the
         EFAC program.

        Interviewed AMS warehouse examiners and warehouse operators managing EFAC-
         licensed facilities to gain their perspectives and understanding of the licensing
         requirements.

        Reviewed 148 prior warehouse examination reports conducted during FYs 2015–2018 on
         the eight active EFAC-licensed facilities to determine frequently identified issues by
         AMS warehouse examiners and identify repeated violations.

        Conducted site visits at the eight active licensed facilities to observe safety and sanitation
         conditions for storing and handling EFAC.

        Reviewed pest control activity documentation from the eight active EFAC warehouses to
         properly evaluate the sufficiency of existing warehouse pest control programs.

        Analyzed vessel loading observation damage reports from FYs 2015–2018 to determine
         the total amount of commodities that was discarded due to contamination or damaged
         EFAC bags.

28
  As of March 2019, there were 16 EFAC-licensed facilities nationwide; however, only 8 facilities had stored
EFAC in the previous 6 months. The remaining facilities did not have any storage activity in the previous 6 months.

20       AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
      Reviewed contract procurement reports from FYs 2015–2018 to determine the amount of
       commodities procured for international food assistance programs and the total value of
       the commodities.

We conducted this audit in accordance with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards
issued by the Comptroller General of the United States. Those standards require that we plan
and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe the evidence obtained
provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




                                                            AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41        21
Abbreviations
AMS .......................................Agricultural Marketing Service
CCC........................................Commodity Credit Corporation
EFAC .....................................export food aid commodity
FAS ........................................Foreign Agricultural Service
FFPA ......................................Food for Peace Act
FY ..........................................fiscal year
IPD .........................................International Procurement Division
OGC .......................................Office of the General Counsel
OIG ........................................Office of Inspector General
USAID ...................................U.S. Agency for International Development
USDA.....................................U.S. Department of Agriculture
USWA ....................................U.S. Warehouse Act
VLO .......................................vessel loading observation
WCMD...................................Warehouse and Commodity Management Division




22     AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41
Agency’s Response




                AGENCY’S
         RESPONSE TO AUDIT REPORT




                        AUDIT REPORT 01601-0002-41   23
                                                              1400 Independence Avenue, SW
                                                              Room 3071-S, STOP 0201
                                                              Washington, D.C. 20250-0201




DATE:         November 27, 2019

TO:           Gil H. Harden
              Assistant Inspector General for Audit
              Office of Inspector General

FROM:         Bruce Summers /s/
              Administrator

SUBJECT:      Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Response to Office of Inspector General
              Audit #01601-0002-41: AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for
              International Food Assistance


We have reviewed the subject audit report and agree with the recommendations. Our detailed
response, including actions to be taken to address the recommendations, is attached.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Frank Woods, Internal
Audits Branch Chief, at 202-720-8836.

Attachment
  Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Response to Office of Inspector General (OIG)
Audit #01601-0002-41: AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for International Food
                                     Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fair
Trade Practices Program and Commodity Procurement Program agree with the OIG findings and
recommendations in the AMS Storage and Handling of Commodities for International Food
Assistance, Audit #01601-0002-41. Please find AMS’ responses to OIG’s recommendations
below.

AMS recognizes the seriousness of the findings and recommendations in this audit. Immediately
after meeting with OIG on October 24, 2019, our Warehouse and Commodity Management
Division (WCMD) initiated actions to address the identified compliance issues with the Export
Food Aid Commodity (EFAC) licensed facilities. Specifically, WCMD personnel conducted
unscheduled warehouse inspections of the EFAC licensees referred to in the report as licensees
A, B, and C. These inspections took place on October 29, October 29 and October 30,
respectively.

Through these inspections, WCMD determined that all previous violations of Licensee A found
during the audit period were corrected and administratively closed. The WCMD inspector issued
a separate, unrelated violation, not a reoccurrence, to the facility during the inspection conducted
on October 29, 2019. WCMD then issued a letter of reprimand to the warehouse operator on
November 4, 2019 that requested appropriate corrective action be taken to address the violation
no later than November 13, 2019. Licensee A submitted a timely corrective action plan stating
that the violation will be corrected by November 22, 2019. WCMD staff will inspect Licensee A
warehouse the week of November 25, 2019 to verify compliance against the corrective plan
assertion. Licensees B and C were examined and found to be in compliance.

AMS is also taking immediate steps to improve the compliance and enforcement program within
WCMD to ensure that inspection deficiencies are addressed and resolved within required
timeframes, and that swift and appropriate enforcement action is taken if they are not. WCMD
has developed and documented an interim compliance process and is implementing a corrective
action plan that will lead to further development and finalization of the compliance process. The
plan includes steps to:
    • address each of the recommendations included in the audit report by specific deadlines,
    • ensure the development of an effective internal compliance and enforcement program for
        the EFAC licensing program that is clearly documented through policies and standard
        operating procedures,
    • improve communication and collaboration between WCMD and the Commodity
        Procurement Program for the effective management of the EFAC function,
    • set a clear expectation of compliance by EFAC warehouse operators, and
    • continually assess and improve the compliance and enforcement function. A GS-13
        compliance officer has been hired and will start official duties on December 9, 2019. The
        compliance officer will be responsible for leading continued implementation of this plan
        in conjunction with WCMD and other Agency leadership.


                                                 1
Finding 1: Warehouse Operators Did Not Consistently Apply Sanitation and Safety
Standards

Recommendation 1
Perform a review of the EFAC Licensing Agreement and make revisions to the licensing
agreement as necessary to: (1) ensure uniformity in the application of standards, and (2) identify
deficiencies and areas of improvement.

Agency Response:

AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiner and warehouse licensing experts to
review the current EFAC licensing agreement. Revisions to the licensing agreement will address
enforcement specifications to ensure uniformity in the application of standards, and clearly
rectify deficiencies and address areas of improvement. AMS will consult with internal
customers, as well as receive legal approval from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), in
making changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Recommendation 2
Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum
standards for sanitation procedures at EFAC facilities. This language should ensure that: (1)
facilities are cleaned on a daily basis when USDA commodities are stored, and (2) warehouse
operators maintain written records of the sanitation activity documenting what and when
cleaning activities were performed.

Agency Response:

AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiner and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will establish minimum standards for sanitation procedures in
the EFAC licensing agreement. Program participants will be required to clean facilities daily
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to maintain written
records of the sanitation activity documenting what and when cleaning activities were
performed. Those records will be inspected as part of any warehouse examination. AMS will
consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal approval from the OGC, in making
changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Recommendation 3
Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will establish minimum
standards for required documentation that demonstrates an effective pest control program.




                                                2
Agency Response:

AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiner and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will establish minimum standards for required documentation
that demonstrates an effective pest control program in the EFAC Licensing Agreement. Program
participants will be required to have an effective pest control program in warehouse facilities
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to document the
implemented, effective pest control program, including what and when the pest control activities
were performed. Those records will be inspected as part of any warehouse examination. AMS
will consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal approval from the OGC, in making
changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before publication in the Federal Register.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Recommendation 4
Incorporate specific language into the EFAC Licensing Agreement that will define the condition
of the pallets used, and the appropriateness or frequency of the use of dunnage.

Agency Response:

AMS will form a team of commodity warehouse examiner and warehouse licensing experts to
incorporate specific language that will define the condition of the pallets used, and the
appropriateness or frequency of the use of dunnage in the EFAC Licensing Agreement. Program
participants will be required to replace damaged pallets and dunnage in warehouse facilities
when USDA commodities are stored. Warehouse operators will be required to document
replacement of damaged pallets and dunnage. Those records will be inspected as part of any
warehouse examination. AMS will consult with internal customers, as well as receive legal
approval from the OGC, in making changes to the EFAC Licensing Agreement before
publication in the Federal Register.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Finding 2: AMS Had Not Reviewed the Guidance for EFAC Bag Repair

Recommendation 5
Review the guidance for repairing packaged commodities for food aid programs to consider
alternative methods for bag repair, such as the use of food-grade tape, and if viable, update the
guidance to incorporate additional methods.

Agency Response:

The International Procurement Division will work with the U.S. Agency for International
Development, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and WCMD to update and re-issue guidance for
the recoopering of commodities and repair of damaged packaging at U.S. load ports, warehouses,
and transload facilities. Revisions to the licensing agreement will include enforcement language

                                                 3
placing more accountability on the operators of said facilities for the repair of damaged
packaging.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Recommendation 6
Distribute any updated guidance to AMS staff, EFAC-licensed warehouse operators, and VLO
contractors.

Agency Response:

When the updated document on recoopering of commodities and repair of damaged packaging at
U.S. load ports, warehouses, and transload facilities is finalized, it will be distributed to the
industry via a variety of methods including special notice issued by Gov Delivery, notification
by the Government list serve subscription, and direct email.

Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2020

Finding 3: AMS Did Not Resolve EFAC License Violations in a Timely Manner

Recommendation 7
Develop policies and procedures that establish roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for
following up with EFAC licensees after violations are identified.

Agency Response:

AMS has hired a GS-13 Senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including developing policies and standard operating procedures
and policies that establish the roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for following up with EFAC
licensees after violations are identified.

Estimated Completion Date: April 30, 2020

Recommendation 8
Establish a method to track license violations to ensure they are addressed timely and appropriate
corrective actions are initiated for repeated violations.

Agency Response:

AMS has hired a GS-13 Senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including establishing a method to track license violations to
ensure they are addressed timely and appropriate corrective actions are initiated for repeated
violations. The individual in the compliance position will closely coordinate with supervisors of
warehouse examiners to expedite follow-up examinations and ensure corrective actions are
implemented.

                                                 4
Estimated Completion Date: April 30, 2020

Recommendation 9
Designate the appropriate resource that will be responsible for overseeing compliance issues,
including follow-up with EFAC licensees to ensure resolution on license violations or initiation
of appropriate corrective actions, as necessary.

Agency Response:

AMS has hired a GS-13 senior Compliance Officer within WCMD responsible for warehouse
compliance and enforcement, including follow-up with EFAC licensees to ensure resolution on
license violations or initiation of appropriate corrective actions, as necessary.

Estimated Completion Date: Completed November 2019

Recommendation 10
Continue to monitor progress with EFAC Licensee A, and if significant improvements are not
made within a reasonable timeframe, consider initiating corrective actions, such as suspension or
revocation of its license.

Agency Response:

AMS has determined that all previous violations of Licensee A found during the audit period
were corrected and administratively closed. A separate, unrelated violation, not a reoccurrence,
was issued on October 29, 2019. A letter of reprimand was sent to the warehouse operator
asking for an immediate correction or appropriate corrective action plan to be submitted by
November 13, 2019. Licensee A submitted a timely corrective action plan stating that the
violation will be corrected by November 22, 2019. WCMD staff will inspect Licensee A
warehouse the week of November 25, 2019 to verify compliance against the corrective plan
assertion. Suspension of license will be initiated if not responsive.

Estimated Completion Date: November 2020 (full year of continuous monitoring)




                                                5
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