Activities of the Plant Protection Division of the Agricultural Research Service

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-05-18.

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

                                                                                                MAY ! 8 1979

                   Dear Dr.    Irving:

                          We have recently     completed our review of selected activities                 of the
                   Plant Protection     Division      (PPD) of the Agricultural         Research Service,
                   Department of Agriculture.           Our review--made      pursuant to the Budget and
                   Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 531, and the Accounting and Auditing                         Act
                   of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67)--was directed             primarily     toward evaluating       the
                   policies   and procedures followed,by           PPD's Southern Regional Office            in
                   enforcing    plant quarantines,       overseeing     the pink bollworm control           program,
                   and seeking financial        assistance     from States for the witchweed eradica-
                   tion program in North and South Carolina.                 We also reviewed the policies
                   and procedures followed        by the Management Services Division               for Regula-
                   tory and Control Programs in contracting               for aerial    application     of
                   pesticides     over pest infested       areas.

                         Our review indicated     a need for corrective     action relative   to (1)
                   the financing     of the witchweed eradication     program and (2) contracting
                   for aerial    spray services.     Officials  of PPD indicated   that corrective
                   action will be taken on both of these matters.

                   ERADICATION PROGRAM

                          Most PPD plant pest programs are carried        out in cooperation   with
                   affected   States and are jointly      planned, financed,    and executed under
                   memorandums of understanding       with the States,     Although there is no
                   legal requirement    for cooperative      financing,  PPD has a long established
                   policy of requiring     State and local cooperators       to match Federal
                   resources to the greatest     extent possible in plant pest programs.          In
                   the witchweed eradication     program, however, the cooperating,States         have
                   made only minimal contributions,

                         PPD has expended about $29 million    for the witchweed eradication
                   program in the States of North and South Carolina      since the inception
                   of the program in fiscal   year 1957 through fiscal    year 1970, while the
                   two States have spent only about $.7 million,       PPD estimated that it
                   would spend $2 million   in fiscal year 1971, and the States would spend
                   only $54,000.

                          In March 1970, the PPD Southern, Regional Supervisor  met with
                   representatives    of the States of North and South Carolina  and requested
                   increased contributions    from the two States for the witchweed program.

                                               50 TH ANNIVERSARY         1921-   197
By letter     dated May 22, 1970, the Regional Supervisor                advised the PPD
Director     that the States'        representatives       agreed   that  the States should
put more money into the program and they suggested that a written                      request
from PPD would be more likely              to get results.        The Regional Supervisor
suggested that a letter           requesting      increased contributions       be sent from
PPD headquarters.       In a letter         dated July 16, 1970, the PPD Director
replied    that it might be better if the subject were discussed first                    with
responsible      State officials,        with a letter      as a follow-up.

      In March 1971, the PPD Director       told us that no action has been
taken since March 1970 to request increased contributions           from these
States.   He advised us, however, that he plans to personally           discuss the
matter with responsible    State officials,       but has not yet done so because
of other pressing matters.      We believe     that positive  action is now needed.


       A number of PPD's cooperative   pest control    programs involve              contracts
for   aerial application of pesticides   over infested     areas.

      Under Federal Procurement Regulations,       Subpart l-1.3,    no contract
is to be awarded to any person or firm unless the contracting             officer
first  determines,  on the basis of sufficient      current  information,        that
such person or firm meets six prescribed       standards of responsibility.
One of the standards   is a satisfactory    record of integrity,       judgement,
and past performance.

       We noted that the Management Services Division            for Regulatory     and
Control Programs awarded aerial           spray contracts   on the basis of low bids
only, without    considering    reports     on the previous   performance     of the
contractors.     The contracting      officer   had not received     performance    reports,
as required    under PPD guidelines,        from PPD program supervisors        on most
completed contracts.

         The contracting     officer     questioned    whether the performance    reports
prepared by PPD program supervisors               could be used as a basis for exclud-
ing a contractor         on a future contract        award because standards and
criteria     for the various        items appraised     had not been established     and
made a part of contract           provisions.       He expressed his opinion that such
standards and criteria           should be developed and included        in contract

        In March 1971 we discussed these matters with officials          of PPD
headquarters     who stated that action will be taken to ensure adherence
to the requirement      for PPD program supervisors    to submit contractor
performance     reports   to the contracting  officer.     They stated also that
a discussion     will be held with the contracting     officer   regarding   any
additional    performance    standards that should be developed and incorporated
into aerial     spray contract    provisions.

       We wish to acknowledge the cooperation      extended to our representatives
during the review.     We will appreciate    your comments and advice as to the
final    actions taken or proposed on the matters discussed herein.        Copies
of this report are being furnished       to the Inspector   General, Department of

                                       Sincerely   yours,

                                       Bernard Sacks
                                       Assistant Director

Dr. George W. Irving
Agricultural  Research   Service