Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Update Regarding the Posting of Amended Versus Original Inspection Reports

Update from Chester Gipson, Animal Care Deputy Administrator, regarding the posting of amended versus original inspection reports on APHIS’ website:
I would like to make you aware of an update to our policy regarding the posting of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) inspection reports on our website.  Effective February 17, 2012, we will no longer post both original and amended inspection reports to our website if they have been amended.  Only the amended inspection report will be posted.

To ensure that AWA standards are being met, inspectors from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conduct routine, comprehensive inspections of licensed and registered facilities and animals--assessing all areas of care and treatment covered by the AWA. These inspections are unannounced, thereby giving inspectors a genuine sense of how licensees and registrants are caring for their animals. The noncompliant items observed, discovered, or verified by the inspector are documented on an inspection report. The report notifies a licensee or registrant if anything needs to be improved in order to meet the agency’s requirements.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we will continue to post inspection reports to the website for all the licensees and registrants that we regulate under the AWA.  An inspection report may be amended to correct an error or in response to an appeal submitted by a USDA licensee/registrant.  The reports are posted 21 days after the date of the inspection to allow time for appeals or for correcting errors. 

If an appeal is received before the end of the 21 days, the report will not be posted until after the appeal is resolved. If an appeal is received after the 21-day appeal period, the report will be removed from view until the appeal is resolved.  If the report is amended, the original report will not be reposted to the website--only the final version of the report will be posted. Once amended, the original, unmodified report is no longer valid, and the revised report becomes the final determination of compliance by APHIS.

Inspection reports are available via the Animal Care website: http://acissearch.aphis.usda.gov/LPASearch/faces/Warning.jspx. To find a particular report, type the licensed/registered name of the facility in the text box at the top of the page and click the SEARCH button. Then, click on the INSPECTION INFORMATION tab in the middle of the page. Finally, click on the DETAILS button for the exact report you want to view.

All inspection reports are available to the public through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Please visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/foia/foia.shtml to learn how to make a FOIA request. The proactive posting of inspection reports to our website is consistent with President Obama’s guidance to federal agencies regarding openness and transparency.  We have received positive feedback from many interested parties on the information we make available on the APHIS website, and we welcome continued feedback from our partners as we continue to improve our processes.

Dr. Chester Gipson
Deputy Administrator for Animal Care, APHIS

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