Federal Food Agency Merger Could Be Next
A recent news service report indicates that a single federal food agency could be created if Congress grants the Obama Administration the authority to reorganize the government. A recent edition of The Hagstrom Report says the Office of Management and Budget director for management, Jeff Zients, noted that if Congress grants President Obama the power to consolidate federal agencies, the first proposal will be to merge the six business-oriented agencies, folding together the Commerce Department's core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
A follow-up proposal would be to consolidate the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and the Inspection Service (FSIS) with the food safety unit at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reportedly, Hagstrom mentions that Obama Administration officials want to merge the FSIS with the food regulatory function of FDA, which is part of Health and Human Service Department (HHS).
Administration officials are said to like the merger possibility because it would make food safety independent of the USDA, which primarily exists to market and promote American farm products.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called for a consolidation of all food-safety functions into a single agency, which would put an end to fragmented oversight supported by most, but not all, outside food-safety advocates. President Obama has asked to have the authority restored, saying his plan to merge six business and trade agencies is just the "first action" he has in mind.