Establishing New Federal Food-Buying Procedures Would Help Eliminate Unnecessary Special Examinations

Gao ID: RCED-84-150 September 24, 1984

GAO reviewed federal practices for accepting food purchases to determine if federal costs could be decreased by reducing the number of special examinations necessary to ensure the quality of accepted products.

GAO found that the direct cost of certification services was $18 million in fiscal year 1982. Although the Department of Agriculture has instructed other federal agencies to waive certification when it is not cost effective, some agencies routinely require certification because federal buying agencies do not have procedures for weighing the costs and benefits of certification. Some agencies believe that certification is necessary because suppliers who have previously supplied defective products cannot be excluded from competition for food procurements, but GAO noted that agencies may consider past performance in determining suppliers' responsibility. GAO also found that: (1) many certifications duplicate industry quality control efforts or required federal inspections; and (2) certification can be extremely costly because the costs of increased production time brought on by unnecessary certification are passed on to the government by suppliers. GAO noted that the costs of certification of one purchase of ground beef amounted to 9.3 percent of the total value of the purchase.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Brian P. Crowley Team: General Accounting Office: Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 275-5138

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