oversight

Year 2000 Computing Challenge: Readiness of USDA High-Impact Programs Improving, But More Action Is Needed

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-09-30.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                  on Department Operations, Oversight,
                  Nutrition, and Forestry, Committee on
                  Agriculture, House of Representatives

September 1999
                  YEAR 2000
                  COMPUTING
                  CHALLENGE

                  Readiness of USDA
                  High-Impact Programs
                  Improving, But More
                  Action Is Needed




GAO/AIMD-99-284
United States General Accounting Office                                                 Accounting and Information
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                       Management Division



                                    B-283524                                                                             Leter




                                    September 30, 1999

                                    The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
                                    Chairman
                                    Subcommittee on Department Operations,
                                      Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry
                                    Committee on Agriculture
                                    House of Representatives

                                    Dear Mr. Chairman:

                                    As you know, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued
                                    guidance to federal agencies on March 26, 1999, for ensuring the Year 2000
                                    readiness of 42 high impact federal programs that are critical to public
                                    health, safety, and well-being. (OMB later added a 43rd high impact
                                    program.) The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lead responsibility
                                    for four of these high impact programs. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service
                                    (FNS) is the lead agency for three food assistance programs−Food Stamps;
                                    Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
                                    (WIC); and Child Nutrition.1 USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
                                    is the lead agency for the Food Safety Inspection Program. At your request,
                                    we determined the actions being taken by USDA to ensure the Year 2000
                                    readiness of its high impact food assistance and food safety programs.

                                    On August 12, 1999, we provided a status briefing to your office on our
                                    observations of USDA's efforts through July 1999. This report provides a
                                    high-level summary of information presented at that briefing and presents
                                    recommendations for assisting USDA in strengthening the Year 2000
                                    readiness efforts of its high impact programs. Prior to briefing your office,
                                    we briefed USDA's Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer
                                    Services, Undersecretary for Food Safety, and the Chief Information
                                    Officier (CIO) on the results of our work. These officials agreed with our
                                    recommendations. Our briefing is reprinted in appendix I.




                                    1
                                    Child Nutrition includes programs such as National School Lunch Program, School
                                    Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer
                                    Food Service Program, and Nutrition Education and Training Program.




                                    Page 1                                   GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                   B-283524




Results in Brief   Although USDA's lead agencies have taken actions and made progress in
                   ensuring the Year 2000 readiness of high impact programs assigned to
                   them, FNS and FSIS still have a long way to go within the limited time
                   remaining to fully meet their high impact program responsibilities. For
                   example, the agencies have taken action to identify partners involved in
                   delivering the high impact programs and to collect data on the Year 2000
                   readiness of these partners. However, when identifying partners, FSIS did
                   not identify all federal agencies and foreign countries engaged in food
                   safety. Therefore, the Year 2000 readiness of the safety of our nation's food
                   supply may not be assured, especially since the Food Safety Inspection
                   program is the only program on the Office of Management and Budget's
                   (OMB) list of 43 that addresses food safety.

                   Moreover, much work remains because neither agency has defined the
                   milestones for the following activities called for by OMB: (1) completing
                   complementary business continuity and contingency plans, (2) publicly
                   demonstrating the Year 2000 readiness of programs, and (3) developing a
                   plan to ensure the programs will operate effectively. As a result, we
                   recommend that USDA reach agreement with OMB officials on the
                   necessary partners to ensure the Year 2000 readiness of the food safety
                   high impact area and that USDA establish milestones for all of its remaining
                   high impact program activities.



Background         OMB has identified 43 federal high impact programs critical to public
                   health, safety and well-being. OMB requested each lead agency to identify
                   and convene partners integral to program delivery, ensure that each partner
                   has an adequate Year 2000 plan, develop a plan to ensure each program will
                   operate effectively, and then jointly test that the federal programs will
                   work. OMB also asked that lead agencies publicly demonstrate high impact
                   program readiness by September 30, 1999.

                   To track progress, OMB required lead agencies to provide a schedule and
                   milestones for key activities by April 15, 1999, and monthly status reports
                   detailing progress against the schedule. OMB also provided a matrix to
                   capture status information on partners for program delivery; key activities
                   to convene those partners; and milestones for testing system operations
                   between partners, completing complementary business continuity and
                   contingency plans, and demonstrating Year 2000 readiness with a public
                   program event.




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                         B-283524




Actions Being Taken by   FNS and FSIS, the two lead agencies for USDA's high impact food safety
                         and food assistance programs, are taking actions to fulfill the requirements
Lead Agencies to         established by OMB. For example, FNS−the lead agency for food stamps,
Ensure Year 2000         WIC, and child nutrition−identified partners for these programs to be states
                         with automated data processing systems and has its regions tracking the
Readiness for USDA's     states' Year 2000 progress.2 As of June 1999, 3 the FNS regional offices
High-Impact Programs     reported

                         • 29 states had Year 2000 compliant food stamp programs,
                         • 35 states had Year 2000 complaint WIC programs, and
                         • 38 states had Year 2000 compliant child nutrition programs.

                         States that were not yet Year 2000 compliant reported that they expected to
                         become compliant by the end of the year.

                         In addition, FNS asked its partners to provide written certifications that
                         their systems are Year 2000 ready or to develop business continuity and
                         contingency plans. At the end of our review, several states and territories
                         had not yet provided either certification letters or business continuity and
                         contingency plans and FNS determined that nearly all contingency plans it
                         received lacked detail and, therefore, needed additional work. Also, FNS
                         requested that 39 states and the District of Columbia, who currently use
                         electronic benefit transfer (EBT) processes for program delivery, submit
                         attestations by June 30, 1999, that their EBT systems are Year 2000
                         compliant. However, by the end of July, FNS had received attestations from
                         only 10 states and the District of Columbia.4 FNS currently has a contractor
                         reviewing Year 2000 design and test documentation for the three major
                         EBT providers (Citibank, Deluxe Electronic Payment Systems, and
                         Transactive Corporation) and expects to have results from the contractor
                         in September 1999.




                         2
                         This actually includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and three territories−
                         Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
                         3
                         This is the latest data available from FNS.
                         4
                         According to FNS, Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio,
                         Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont have provided attestations.




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                          FSIS−the lead agency for food safety inspection—defined its leadership
                          role as representing the food safety inspection area under its legislative
                          authority (e.g., inspection activities for meat, poultry, and processed egg
                          products). In doing so, the agency identified partners as those states with
                          approval from FSIS to operate their own inspection programs. Twenty-five
                          states fall into this category.5 In July, FSIS expanded its leadership role to
                          include foods falling under the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA)
                          legislative authority (e.g., domestic and imported foods, except meat,
                          poultry, and processed egg products). FSIS now identifies FDA as a partner
                          in its report to OMB.

                          To carry out its high impact responsibilities, in June 1999 FSIS surveyed the
                          Year 2000 readiness of its 25 state food safety inspection partners. At that
                          time, all 25 states reported they had a Year 2000 plan; 13 states reported
                          they were Year 2000 ready; and 18 states reported that they had business
                          continuity and contingency plans. Also, FSIS has begun collecting
                          information from FDA on planned high impact program Year 2000 activities
                          and milestones covering FDA regulated products.



FSIS Has Not Identified   While FSIS identifies as its partners FDA and the 25 states with approval
                          from FSIS to operate their own inspection programs, this may not be
All Federal Agencies      sufficient to ensure the Year 2000 readiness of the food safety area.
and Foreign Countries     According to OMB's list of 43 high impact programs, Food Safety
                          Inspection is the only program addressing food safety. We reported in
Involved in Food          August 19986 that in addition to FSIS and FDA, 10 other federal agencies
Safety as Partners        share responsibility for food safety.7 FSIS has not included any of these
                          other federal agencies as its partners.

                          According to FSIS officials, FDA is the only federal agency included as a
                          partner because the two agencies−FSIS and FDA—are the only ones with


                          5
                          In states that do not have approved inspection programs, FSIS performs all inspections.
                          6
                          Food Safety: Opportunities to Redirect Federal Resources and Funds Can Enhance
                          Effectiveness (GAO/RCED-98-224, Aug. 6, 1998).
                          7
                           The 10 federal agencies include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Animal and
                          Plant Health Inspection Service; Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration;
                          Agricultural Marketing Service; Agricultural Research Service; National Marine Fisheries
                          Service; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Trade Commission; U.S. Customs
                          Service; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.




                          Page 4                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                       B-283524




                       direct responsibility for food safety inspections. However, FSIS had not
                       discussed and reached agreement with OMB on whether this is sufficient to
                       ensure the readiness of food safety or whether additional partners should
                       be identified. FSIS officials noted that while the agency had not included as
                       partners other federal agencies with food safety responsibilities, FSIS was
                       obtaining information on Year 2000 activities from the Centers for Disease
                       Control and Prevention and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
                       Service. However, FSIS said it did not plan to contact or include as partners
                       any of the remaining eight agencies we identified as involved in food safety.

                       Moreover, FSIS had not identified as partners those 36 countries with
                       approval from FSIS to inspect meat and poultry products exported to the
                       United States. While FSIS had not included these 36 foreign countries as
                       partners, it (1) discussed with FDA and USDA's Foreign Agricultural
                       Service the need to contact foreign countries, (2) found that other federal
                       agencies, including the Foreign Agricultural Service, had already been
                       collecting Year 2000 information from foreign countries, and
                       (3) determined that it could not use information already collected by other
                       agencies to assess the food safety readiness of the 36 countries. Therefore,
                       FSIS planned to send a letter to the countries to obtain information on their
                       Year 2000 readiness with respect to food safety.



Milestones for High    FNS and FSIS have not yet defined milestones for completing activities to
                       ensure the Year 2000 readiness of their respective high impact programs.
Impact Activities to   Specifically, neither agency had yet established milestones for
Ensure Year 2000       (1) completing complementary business continuity and contingency plans
                       with partners, (2) demonstrating readiness with a program event, and
Readiness Have Not     (3) developing a plan to ensure the program will operate effectively. While
Yet Been Defined       FNS has not defined milestones for developing such a plan, the agency was
                       drafting a strategy for state Year 2000 activities to be undertaken through
                       the end of the calendar year.

                       Also, neither agency included milestones for testing system operations
                       between partners. FNS said it had no plans to do joint testing because it is
                       testing its own internal systems, while FNS' partners are responsible for
                       testing their own systems. Additionally, FNS and its partners each test their
                       own data interfaces. At the time of our review, FNS had not verified its
                       partners' readiness by reviewing test results or obtaining an independent
                       review of program readiness.




                       Page 5                               GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                  B-283524




                  FSIS said it had no plans to do joint testing because the agency had already
                  tested its own systems and FSIS does not have electronic data interchanges
                  with partners. Like FNS, at the time of our review, FSIS had not verified its
                  partners' readiness by reviewing their test results or obtaining an
                  independent review of program readiness. FSIS emphasized though, that
                  while it had not verified the overall readiness of its partners, it had verified
                  Year 2000 compliance for a major application used by state partners in their
                  inspection process.



Conclusions       Overall, USDA's lead agencies have made progress in ensuring the Year
                  2000 readiness of high impact programs, but they have a long way to go
                  within the limited time remaining to fully accomplish the high impact goals
                  assigned by OMB. Because FSIS has not included as partners those federal
                  agencies and foreign countries having food safety responsibilities for our
                  nation's food supply, Year 2000 readiness for food safety may not be
                  assured. Also, neither agency has established milestones for (1) completing
                  complementary business continuity and contingency plans with partners,
                  (2) demonstrating readiness with a public program event, and
                  (3) developing a plan to ensure that programs can continue to operate in
                  the event of Year 2000 problems.



Recommendations   We recommend that the Secretary of Agriculture direct that

                  • USDA's Undersecretary for Food Safety and CIO reach agreement with
                    OMB on which federal agencies and foreign countries should be
                    partners in helping to ensure the Year 2000 readiness of the food safety
                    high impact area and
                  • USDA's Undersecretaries for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
                    and for Food Safety, in conjunction with the CIO, establish specific
                    milestones to (1) complete complementary business continuity and
                    contingency plans, (2) demonstrate readiness with a program event, and
                    (3) develop an overall plan to ensure Year 2000 readiness for each
                    program, and then report regularly to the Secretary on progress made to
                    meet these recommendations.

                  Prior to our briefing to your office, we provided a copy of the briefing
                  materials to USDA's Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer
                  Services; Undersecretary for Food Safety; and CIO. These officials agreed




                  Page 6                                 GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                        B-283524




                        with our recommendations and we have incorporated their comments as
                        appropriate.



Objective, Scope, and   As requested, our objective was to determine actions being taken by USDA
                        to ensure the Year 2000 readiness of high impact food assistance and food
Methodology             safety programs. To do this, we reviewed OMB and USDA Year 2000 high
                        impact guidance and discussed how this guidance was being implemented
                        with FNS and FSIS officials and with USDA Year 2000 program officials in
                        USDA's CIO office. To determine the reported status of agency actions−
                        such as identifying and convening partners, assessing partner readiness,
                        and establishing business continuity and contingency plans−as well as
                        other steps necessary to ensure the continuation of the high impact
                        programs beyond the Year 2000, we reviewed USDA planning documents,
                        status reports, and other information collected by FNS and FSIS for each
                        high impact program area.

                        We also reviewed surveys and contractor reports on Year 2000 readiness
                        activities of key FNS and FSIS program partners and discussed Year 2000-
                        related food safety activities with FDA officials. In addition, we compared
                        the information we collected with OMB and departmental guidance to
                        determine the agencies' progress in meeting their overall high impact
                        program objectives. We did not independently verify reported status
                        information.

                        We conducted our review from May 1999 through July 1999 in accordance
                        with generally accepted government auditing standards. Our work was
                        done at headquarters offices of USDA's FNS and FSIS, and USDA's Office
                        of the Chief Information Officer in Washington, D.C.; FDA headquarters
                        offices in Washington D.C.; and FNS offices in Alexandria, Virginia.


                        We are providing copies of this report to Representative Eva Clayton,
                        Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Department Operations,
                        Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture. We
                        are sending copies to Senators Richard Lugar, Chairman, and Tom Harkin,
                        Ranking Minority Member, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition,
                        and Forestry; Senators Robert Bennett, Chairman, and Christopher Dodd,
                        Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000
                        Technology Problem; Representatives Larry Combest, Chairman, and
                        Charles Stenholm, Ranking Minority Member, House Committee on
                        Agriculture; and Representatives Steven Horn, Chairman, and Jim Turner,


                        Page 7                               GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
B-283524




Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Government Management,
Information and Technology, House Committee on Government Reform.
We are also sending copies to the Honorable Daniel R. Glickman, Secretary
of Agriculture; the Honorable Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health and
Human Services; the Honorable Jane Henney, Commissioner of the Food
and Drug Administration; and the Honorable Jacob Lew, Director, Office of
Management and Budget; and other interested parties. Copies will be made
available to others upon request.

If you have any questions on matters discussed in this letter, please call me
at (202) 512-6408 or Stephen A. Schwartz, Senior Assistant Director at
(202) 512-6213. Key contributors to this assignment were Seth Goodman,
Troy Hottovy, Heather McIntyre, and Mark Shaw.

Sincerely yours,




Joel C. Willemssen
Director, Civil Agencies
Information Systems




Page 8                               GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
Page 9   GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
Appendix I

Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department                                         Appendx
                                                                                         ies




Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry,
House Committee on Agriculture                                                      Appendx
                                                                                          Ii




                 Accounting and Information
                 Management Division
             Observations on Readiness of
               USDA’s Year 2000 High
                  Impact Programs


                 House Committee on Agriculture
             Subcommittee on Department Operations,
                Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry

                        August 12, 1999

                                                                1




                    Page 10                GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                     Appendix I
                     Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                     Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                     Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




                  Purpose
•   Brief requestor and USDA on our observations of department’s
    efforts through July 1999 as lead agency for assuring Year 2000
    readiness for food safety inspection and food assistance programs
•   We performed our work at USDA headquarters offices in the
    Washington D.C. area from May through July 1999 in accordance
    with generally accepted government auditing standards
•   Outline of briefing:
     – Background
     – Summary
     – Status of High Impact Food Assistance Efforts for
         • Food Stamps
         • Child Nutrition
         • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
           (WIC)
     – Status of High Impact Food Safety Inspection Efforts
     – Conclusions
     – Recommendations

                                                                                       2




                     Page 11                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




               Background
• On March 26, 1999, OMB issued memorandum 99-12 on
  “Assuring the Year 2000 Readiness of High Impact Federal
  Programs” critical to public health, safety, and well-being
• OMB identified 43 high impact federal programs and
  assigned USDA to lead 4 of these
        1) Food Stamps
        2) Child Nutrition
        3) WIC
        4) Food Safety Inspection

• USDA’s
   – Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is lead agency for three food
     assistance programs--food stamps, child nutrition, and WIC
   – Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is lead agency for food
     safety inspection program


                                                                                   3




                 Page 12                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




               Background (Cont’d)
• OMB expects lead federal agencies to take leadership role to
  ensure high impact programs will work and noted that this
  effort
   – goes beyond determining whether or not specific systems
     and data exchanges will work
   – is intended to ensure agencies comprehensively review how
     high impact programs function from end-to-end by focusing
     on relationships with providers of key services

• OMB requested each lead agency to:

   – identify partners integral to program delivery
   – take leadership role in convening those partners
   – assure each partner has adequate Y2K plan
   – develop a plan to ensure program will operate effectively
   – jointly test that federal program will work
                                                                                   4




                 Page 13                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




               Background (Cont’d)
• OMB asked that lead agencies publicly demonstrate high
  impact program readiness by September 30, 1999

• To track progress, OMB required lead agencies to provide

   – schedule and milestones for key activities by April 15, 1999
   – monthly status reports detailing progress against schedule

• OMB provided matrix to capture following status information
   – partners for program delivery
   – list of key activities to convene partners
   – milestones for
       •testing system operations between partners
       •completing complementary business continuity and contingency
        plans
       •demonstrating readiness with a public program event

                                                                                   5




                 Page 14                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                    Appendix I
                    Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                    Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                    Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




                 Summary
• USDA’s lead agencies
    – have made progress in assuring Y2K readiness of high impact
      programs assigned to it by OMB
    – have a long way to go within time remaining to fully accomplish
      high impact goals
• As of late July 1999,
    – FSIS has not identified as partners all federal agencies and foreign
      countries engaged in food safety

    – FNS and FSIS had not yet defined the milestones for the following
      called for by OMB
        • completing complementary business continuity and contingency
          plans
        • demonstrating readiness with public program event
        • developing a plan to ensure program will operate effectively




                                                                                      6




                    Page 15                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                      Appendix I
                      Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                      Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                      Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




             Status of High Impact Food Assistance
             Programs Effort
• FNS officials told us that in carrying out responsibilities
  assigned to it by OMB for food stamps, WIC, and child
  nutrition, they

    – identified partners to be states with automated data processing
      systems
    – rely on FNS regional offices to monitor states’ Y2K progress
• As of end of June 1999*, states reported following to regions:
          Status of States Y2K Readiness

                                Food       WIC           Child
                                Stamps                   Nutrition

          Y2K Compliant         29         35            38*

          Compliant 3rd Q ‘99 21           12            9

          Compliant 4th Q ‘99 4            7             6
   aone state reports it will be compliant in June 1999, even though that date passed
   [See Appendix I, Table of state-by-state Y2K readiness]
   *Latest data available for FNS                                                         7




                      Page 16                                        GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                       Appendix I
                       Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                       Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                       Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




            Status of High Impact Food Assistance
            Programs Effort (Cont’d)
• FNS officials said that they have also asked states to
    – provide written certifications their systems are Y2K-ready
    – develop business continuity and contingency plans

• In June 1999, FNS asked regions to provide copy of state’s
  letter certifying programs are compliant or contingency plans
    – FNS reported as of the end of July it had received Y2K
      certification letters from
          • 19 states/territories/D.C. certifying food stamp program
          • 28 states/territories/D.C. certifying WIC program
          • 18 states/territories certifying child nutrition program

    – FNS reported as of the end of July it received contingency plans
      from
          • 14 states/territories/D.C. for food stamps
          • 24 states/territories for WIC
          • 6 states/D.C. for child nutrition
   [See Appendix II, table of state-by-state status to provide letters or plans]

                                                                                           8




                       Page 17                                        GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                   Appendix I
                   Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                   Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                   Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




           Status of High Impact Food Assistance
           Programs Effort (Cont’d)
• FNS officials gave following reasons why they have not
  received more letters/plans from states
     – for certification letters, some states reluctant to submit such
       letters given possible liability issues should systems fail
     – for contingency plans, they did not know if requirements to
       complete such plans were communicated by regions to all states

• In June, FNS reviewed contingency plans it had received, and
  a June 18th FNS document summarizing this review noted
  that “all need work”
     – FNS sent more guidance to states on preparing such plans
     – FNS did not provide deadline for when states should complete plans

•   In July, FNS told us two states (Texas and New Hampshire)
    submitted more comprehensive plans



                                                                                     9




                   Page 18                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                        Appendix I
                        Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                        Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                        Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




            Status of High Impact Food Assistance
            Programs Effort (Cont’d)
• Another activity FNS has underway is that it has requested the
  39 states and District of Columbia using electronic benefit
  transfer (EBT) processes to submit attestations by June 30, 1999
  that their EBT systems are Year 2000 compliant
   – As of the end of July, FNS said it had received attestations from only
     10 of the 39 states and District of Columbia with EBT systems
        • Colorado; Kentucky; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Ohio;
          Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Utah; and Vermont have provided
          attestations
      [See Appendix III, list of 39 states and District of Columbia that have EBT systems]

   – FNS has a contractor reviewing Year 2000 design and test
     documentation for the three major EBT providers (Citibank, Deluxe
     Electronic Payment Systems, and Transactive Corporation)
        • FNS expects to have the results from the contractor in early
          September 1999



                                                                                                 10




                        Page 19                                             GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




         Status of High Impact Food Assistance
         Programs Effort (Cont’d)
• FNS has a contractor providing Y2K technical assistance to
  selected states

   – initially selected 20 states, 2 territories and the District of
     Columbia for contractor visits to provide technical assistance for
     one or more programs

   – states were selected if the
       • state did not plan to be compliant until last quarter of 1999,
       • state reported little or no progress to date on Y2K work, and/or
       • FNS regional office specifically requested contractor to make a visit

   – areas of technical assistance provided at each state are
     determined by regional offices on state-by-state basis and can
     include
       • project management
       • hardware/software testing
       • contingency planning


                                                                                   11




                 Page 20                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




          Status of High Impact Food Assistance
          Programs Effort (Cont’d)

• As of July 9th, FNS officials said that 16 states had been
  visited by the contractor for at least one program

    – contractor provides states with findings and recommendations
      for improvements to their Y2K programs

    – FNS had no plans to follow-up with states on status of
      implementing recommendations


• FNS is now developing a strategy to have the contractor
  review contingency plans from states that were not compliant
  by July 31




                                                                                   12




                 Page 21                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                 Appendix I
                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




          Status of High Impact Food Assistance
          Programs Effort (Cont’d)
• FNS had not yet established milestones for
    – completing complementary business continuity and contingency
      plans with partners
    – demonstrating readiness with a program event
    – developing a plan to ensure program will operate effectively
        • FNS is currently drafting a strategy for state Y2K activities
          between now and the end of the calendar year
• Regarding testing system operations between partners,
  FNS says it has no plans to do joint testing because
    – FNS is testing its own internal systems, where some re-testing is
      needed due to shift to new telecommunications service provider
    – FNS’ partners are responsible for testing their own systems
    – FNS and its partners each test their own data interfaces

• FNS had not verified its partners’ readiness by reviewing test
  results or obtaining independent review of program readiness


                                                                                   13




                 Page 22                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                    Appendix I
                    Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                    Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                    Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




            Status of High Impact Food Safety
            Inspection Program Effort
• FSIS officials told us that in carrying out responsibilities
  assigned to it by OMB for food safety inspection they
    – defined their leadership role to represent food safety inspection
      area under FSIS’ legislative authority (e.g., inspection activities for
      meat, poultry, and processed egg products moving in interstate
      and foreign commerce)

        • in doing so, FSIS identified partners as those states with
          approval from FSIS to operate their own inspection programs
          (25 states fall in this category, while FSIS performs all
          inspections at remaining states)

    – expanded this role in July to include food safety inspection for
      foods falling under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA)
      legislative authority (e.g., domestic and imported foods, except
      meat, poultry, and processed egg products)

        • FSIS also now identifies FDA as a partner in its report to OMB


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                         Appendix I
                         Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                         Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                         Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




               Status of High Impact Food Safety
               Inspection Program Effort (Cont’d)
• Although food safety inspection program is the only program on
  OMB’s list of 43 addressing food safety, FSIS has not included
  any of the other federal agencies with food safety
  responsibilities as partners
   – GAO reported in August 1998* that besides FSIS and FDA, there
     were 10 other federal agencies that share responsibility for food
     safety
       ƒ   Centers for Disease Control and      ƒ   Agricultural Research Service
           Prevention                           ƒ   National Marine Fisheries Service
       ƒ   Animal and Plant Health Inspection   ƒ   Environmental Protection Agency
           Service                              ƒ   Federal Trade Commission
       ƒ   Grain Inspection, Packers, and       ƒ   U.S. Customs Service
           Stockyards Administration            ƒ   Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
       ƒ   Agricultural Marketing Service
                                                    Firearms


   – FSIS has not included the other federal agencies because,
     according to FSIS officials, only FSIS and FDA have direct
     responsibility for food safety inspections
           *Food Safety: Opportunities to Redirect Federal Resources and Funds Can Enhance
           Effectiveness (GAO/RCED-98-224, Aug. 6, 1998)


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                    Appendix I
                    Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                    Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                    Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




             Status of High Impact Food Safety
             Inspection Program Effort (Cont’d)
• Although FSIS does not include them as partners, FSIS says it
  is obtaining information on Y2K activities from
    – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

• However, FSIS says it did not plan to contact or include the
  following agencies involved in food safety
    –   Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration
    –   Agricultural Marketing Service
    –   Agricultural Research Service
    –   National Marine Fisheries Service
    –   Environmental Protection Agency
    –   Federal Trade Commission
    –   U.S. Customs Service
    –   Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms




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                    Appendix I
                    Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                    Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                    Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




          Status of High Impact Food Safety
          Inspection Program Effort (Cont’d)
• Moreover, FSIS has not identified as partners those 36
  countries with approval from FSIS to inspect meat and poultry
  products exported to the U.S.

• While FSIS has not included these 36 foreign countries as
  partners, FSIS

   – discussed with FDA and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service
     (FAS) need to contact foreign countries
   – found that other federal agencies, including FAS, have already
     been collecting Y2K information from foreign countries
   – determined that information already collected by other agencies
     cannot be used by FSIS to assess food safety readiness of the 36
     countries

       • therefore, FSIS plans to send a letter to the countries to obtain
         information on Y2K readiness with respect to food safety


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                    Page 26                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                      Appendix I
                      Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                      Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                      Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




           Status of High Impact Food Safety
           Inspection Program Effort (Cont’d)
• In June 1999* FSIS surveyed Y2K readiness of its 25 state
  food safety inspection partners
   – all reported to have a Y2K plan
   – 13 states reported they were already Y2K-ready
   – 18 states reported they have contingency plans

            [See appendix IV, table of 25 states’ Y2K readiness]


• FSIS has also established plans and milestones to
   – discuss status of Y2K readiness with 25 states
   – share Y2K planning guidance/materials with states and industry

• FDA reported to FSIS that it
   – has held Y2K roundtable discussions with trade groups
   – is collecting information on Y2K readiness from manufacturers,
     processors, and distributors


  *Latest data available from FSIS
                                                                                        18




                      Page 27                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                   Appendix I
                   Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                   Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                   Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




          Status of High Impact Food Safety
          Inspection Program Effort (Cont’d)
• FSIS had not yet established milestones for
    – completing complementary business continuity and contingency
      plans with partners
    – demonstrating readiness with a program event
    – developing a plan to ensure program will operate effectively

• Regarding testing system operations between partners,
  FSIS says it has no plans to do joint testing because
    – FSIS has already tested its own systems
    – FSIS does not have electronic data interchanges with partners

• FSIS had not verified its partners’ readiness by reviewing their
  test results or obtaining independent review of program
  readiness. However, FSIS said it had verified Y2K
  compliance for a major application developed by FSIS and
  used by state partners in their inspection process

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                   Page 28                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                    Appendix I
                    Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                    Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                    Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




                 Conclusions
• Overall, USDA’s lead agencies have made progress in assuring
  Y2K readiness of high impact programs, but have a long way to
  go within the limited time remaining to fully accomplish high
  impact goals assigned by OMB

• Role defined by FSIS may not result in it fully assuring Y2K
  readiness for food safety, since FSIS has not included as
  partners those federal agencies and foreign countries having
  food safety responsibilities for our nations food supply

• Further, neither agency has established milestones for
   – completing complementary business continuity and contingency plans with
     partners
   – demonstrating readiness with program event
   – developing a plan to ensure that programs can continue to operate in event
     of Year 2000 problems




                                                                                      20




                    Page 29                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                  Appendix I
                  Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                  Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                  Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




              Recommendations

• We recommend that the Secretary of Agriculture direct that

   – USDA’s Undersecretary for Food Safety and CIO reach
     agreement with OMB on which federal agencies and foreign
     countries should be partners in helping to assure the Year 2000
     readiness of the food safety high impact area

   – USDA’s Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer
     Services and Undersecretary for Food Safety, in conjunction with
     the CIO,
       • establish specific milestones to
            – complete complementary business continuity and contingency plans
            – demonstrate readiness with a program event
            – develop overall plan to ensure Y2K readiness of program

       • report regularly to USDA’s Secretary on progress on meeting these
         recommendations

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                  Page 30                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                       Appendix I
                       Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                       Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                       Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




Appendix I to Slides




                       Page 31                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                       Appendix I
                       Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                       Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                       Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




Appendix I to Slides




                       Page 32                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                        Appendix I
                        Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                        Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                        Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




Appendix II to Slides




                        Page 33                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                        Appendix I
                        Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                        Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                        Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




Appendix II to Slides




                        Page 34                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                         Appendix I
                         Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                         Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                         Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




Appendix III to Slides




                         Page 35                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
                                 Appendix I
                                 Briefing to the Subcommittee on Department
                                 Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and
                                 Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture




 Appendix IV to Slides




(511793)                 Leter   Page 36                                      GAO/AIMD-99-284 USDA High Impact Programs
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