Workforce of the Future Briefing Paper
Impact of Changing Regulatory Requirements on Workforce
Vision of the Workforce of the Future
The FSIS Workforce Today
The current FSIS workforce is primarily technician-based. From
1906 to 1999, the Food Inspector served as the primary regulatory presence
in meat and poultry plants. The workforce also includes a cadre of
professional specialists today in headquarters, labs, and field locations.
These specialists, who also play a vital role in carrying out our
regulatory mission, include veterinarians, food technologists,
epidemiologists, physicians, microbiologists, chemists, and others. They
carry out work that requires an in-depth knowledge of specific scientific
disciplines for which they were educated. For example, a complement of
about 1,000 Veterinary Medical Officers remains integral to FSIS’s
statutory function of preventing diseased animals from entering the food
supply. In addition, professional specialists’ work supports technical
inspection; for example, specialists draft the performance standards,
develop the computerized systems, and complete the analyses that support
technical inspection. Completing the current workforce are compliance
officers, who specialize in enforcement, investigation, emergency response
and case documentation; and administrative support personnel.
The Food Inspector continued to be the main frontline regulatory
presence through many improvements in the inspection program over the years
that reflect increased public health understanding, changes in the
regulated industry and changes in consumer expectations.
The Future: A Workforce that Supports the New Food
The Agency believes that the workforce of the future will include
technical, professional and administrative employees, as it does today.
However, FSIS believes the workforce inevitably must include a higher
proportion of professional employees than it does today, if the Agency it
is to continue to be effective in food safety and consumer protection. The
Agency envisions assigning Consumer Safety Officers across the frontline
workforce, but also throughout the organization. There
will be no increase in the Agency workforce as a result of the introduction
of the CSO occupation. CSO positions will be filled by selecting current
inspectors with the requisite qualifications and through external
recruitment as attrition permits. As the
Inspector is the principal employee of today, the Consumer Safety Officer
will be the principal employee of tomorrow.
.Implementation of the PR/HACCP rule and other regulatory reforms have
improved and will continue to strengthen the food safety system. Our
workforce must also evolve, commensurate with this even stronger food
safety system. The process of implementing the PR/ HACCP rule has confirmed
that the frontline workforce needs a broader scientific and analytical
background, not only to meet the challenges of tomorrow, but also to meet
the demands of today. We can no longer defer the reshaping of our workforce
to "the future." The future is now.
Today’s Needs and Tomorrow’s Challenges
Today, as we enter a new century, the Agency is realizing its goal of
overseeing the implementation of pathogen reduction and HACCP regulations.
However, much more remains to be done.
- Verifying HACCP Systems Adequacy. Having assured that more than
6,000 federally inspected meat and poultry plants have HACCP plans in
place, FSIS must now take on the more challenging and critical task of
evaluating the scientific adequacy of the HACCP plans and the plants’
execution of the plans in producing safe food, in a manner that maintains
the distinction in responsibilities and flexibility for industry.
Our purpose is not to approve individual HACCP plans, but to verify how
well HACCP systems are working to produce safe food. Enforcement actions,
voluntary product recalls and outbreaks are indicators that not all HACCP
systems are working equally well.
Verification will be conducted by intensive reviews utilizing onsite
professionals with appropriate scientific background and analytical skills,
and that is one reason we want to increase our proportion of employees with
scientific and analytical skills who are on-site -- specifically Consumer
Safety Officers. The employees who conduct verification should be able to
apply onsite a professional capability to weigh all available information,
including real time information, and prioritize and plan inspection
activities so as to focus attention where it is most needed in the plants.
The employee should be able to evaluate plant hazard analyses and other
decision-making documents used to develop the plant’s plans including its
HACCP plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs), and
microbiological sampling plans to determine if the analyses and plans are
scientifically sound and consistent. The employee should be able to assess
the overall effectiveness of the plant’s execution of its process control
system for all aspects of the manufacturing process.
- Outbreak Prevention and Containment. Enhancements in food
safety, including FoodNet and PulseNet, have enabled federal and state food
safety agencies to identify and act on foodborne illness more effectively.
Because we have more tools to detect problems, we are finding problems
earlier. That is the good news. However, we do not have the right mix of
professional and technical employees on board to address situations
occurring today. For example, within the past two years, FSIS has struggled
to manage its resources to respond scientifically and technically to a
foodborne disease outbreak affecting persons in several states, ultimately
traced to bacteria in processed meat products. The Agency also worked with
other agencies to investigate a threat of terrorist food contamination. As
a result, the federal and state food safety agencies agree that better
coordination on outbreaks and recalls is a high priority. We believe that
we need a greater proportion of employees with scientific and analytical
skills, particularly on the front lines, to deal with these problem
situations, and that Consumer Safety Officers is the appropriate series.
- A diverse food supply has more complex problems. One side effect
of a more complex food system and a greater diversity of products and
processes is that there can be more opportunities for problems to occur.
That is why a HACCP system is necessary to anticipate, prevent and control
food safety problems. Even so, unique problems can and do come up which
require a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to resolve.
We believe that having available in frontline operations a greater
number of professional employees with a general scientific background and
analytical skills would speed up our response to and better address these
unique problems, and enhance understanding to prevent those problems in the
future. The Consumer Safety Officer is the employee with those
- Industry Innovation. HACCP regulations and performance standards
are less prescriptive than former command and control regulations, thereby
encouraging industry innovation and use of new technology to improve food
safety. Regulatory evaluation of innovative approaches to controlling
pathogens for effectiveness in meeting performance standards demands
application of sound judgment and scientific knowledge, in a timely manner.
We need a greater proportion of employees with these skills in order to
keep pace with industry innovation and enable prompter commercial
implementation of improvements developed by industry. This is one more
important reason for Consumer Safety Officers now.
- Improved Compliance through Effective Communication with Industry. The
FSIS frontline regulator needs to be able to more clearly articulate to
industry officials the scientific and regulatory basis for inspection
decisions to obtain compliance. Some of our frontline inspectors do not
have the mix of knowledge and skills to communicate effectively with their
counterparts in the industry. The outcome of ineffective communication is
wasted time and resources for both regulator and regulated. It is important
to increase the proportion of professional employees in our workforce with
a sound knowledge of scientific principles, analytical ability, and strong
interpersonal skills in carrying out their regulatory responsibilities. We
believe implementing the Consumer Safety Officer series will improve
regulatory effectiveness by improving communication with the regulated
- Risk Analysis. The Agency's continuing goal is to focus its
effort on addressing the true human health risks associated with meat,
poultry and egg products, as has been recommended by the National Academy
of Sciences. We believe that this is best accomplished by using a
farm-to-table approach to microbial risk assessment to identify significant
food safety hazards and identify potential strategies to prevent, reduce or
eliminate those hazards, including emerging zoonotic diseases such as BSE.
The application of risk assessment techniques to microbial pathogens
poses some special challenges that differ from chemical, environmental or
toxicological risk assessments. This is increasing the Agency's need for
personnel with training in the sciences, the analytical skills and the
ability to (a) assess the situations encountered in plants, in
transportation, and in distribution and warehousing that present a risk to
food safety; and (b) to design real-time strategies to address these
- Regulatory reform. As regulatory reform continues, it will
further modify the role of the FSIS employee to underscore our regulatory
focus on systems as a whole -- not just segments of the system such as
sanitation or product adulteration. To be effective in a systems
approach to food safety, inspection employees need to rely less on
explicit, precise command-and-control regulations and more on
professional knowledge, analytical skills and judgment within the context
of HACCP regulations and performance standards.
- HACCP Systems Approach Tested in Slaughter. The Agency has begun
the pilot-testing phase of a project to more fully integrate the principles
of a science-based, preventive food safety system into slaughter
operations, and to determine whether this new system is at least as
effective as--or better than--current systems for young, healthy animals.
If the HACCP-based approach to the slaughtering process is implemented,
technical inspection personnel would still be responsible for oversight
inspection, as they are today. However, the Agency anticipates that one
professional employee (a Consumer Safety Officer) could be
responsible for verification of process control systems on both the
slaughter and processing side of a combination plant. Currently, there are
about 800 combination slaughter/processing plants. This change would enable
some technical inspection personnel freed up from verification inspection
to be utilized to perform additional food safety tasks.
Achieving the Workforce of the Future
The transition to the workforce of the future will be accomplished over
time. The pace of implementation, and the point at which a critical mass of
CSOs is in place, will depend on a number of factors, including attrition
of current employees. Throughout the planning and implementation phases,
the Agency has committed to good communications with the bargaining unit to
keep the union well informed and to meet the statutory obligations.
Changes in Food Safety
||HACCP (Today &
|Inspection of each animal at
||Inspection of each animal at
|Organoleptic inspection (sight-touch-smell)
||Organoleptic inspection plus science-based
inspection tools (sampling, statistical process control)
|Detection of problems in individual carcasses,
products to prevent shipment of unsafe or unwholesome products.
||Oversight and verification of plant systems
(HACCP, SSOP, E. coli, Salmonella) to ensure compliance with food
safety and consumer protection performance standards and safe, wholesome
|Inspector identifies problems and tells plant
what corrective action to take.
||Plant systems enable plant to detect, correct
problems in-process; inspector verifies plant has taken appropriate
|Prescriptive regulations allow only one right
way (FSIS command and control)
||Performance standards ensure safe, wholesome
food while encouraging industry innovation and new technology.
|Inspection focus ends at plant level
||Inspection focuses on farm-to-table continuum;
Cooperative efforts with Federal/State/Local Public Health and Inspection
|Plant responsible for safety/quality of their
||Plant responsible and accountable for
safety/quality of their food products
|Reliance on mark of inspection to guarantee
food safety/quality. Reliance on inspector to detect problems.
||Reliance on mark of inspection to verify
plants have controlled their systems and processes to ensure safe,
|Most plant personnel have traditional
||More plant personnel have adequate scientific,
quality control, and engineering backgrounds to verify plant systems
produce safe, high-quality foods.
|Plants used traditional methods to process a
small range of simple food products
||Plants use complex, science-based technology
to process and control a broad variety of processed products
|Technology focused on how to improve rates of
production (e.g., faster line speed)
||Rapidly developing technology focused on
systems improvement and production of complex products (e.g., irradiation,
sprays to reduce microbial level/presence, convenient ready-to-eat foods)
|Prevention of diseased animals in the food
Prevention of food adulteration by foreign objects, chemical residues
Accurate labeling; prevention of "economic adulteration"
Prevention of bruises, quality defects
|Items in left column PLUS:
Preventing and reducing foodborne illness caused by pathogens of public
health concern in foods
Seamless food safety system from farm to table, with cooperation among
Public participation in policy-making
This is an excerpt from the Report to Congress on the Consumer
Safety Officer initiative (February 15, 2000). The complete report is
accessible on the FSIS website: http://www.fsis.usda.gov
(check under Communications to Congress).
Workforce of the Future Steering Committee
Objective: Coordinate and integrate Agency efforts to design and
implement roles and responsibilities for the FSIS workforce and to guide
the transition to the workforce of the future.
Team Roles and Responsibilities:
- Establish guiding principles for the transitioning of the workforce in
support of the food safety and consumer protection system of the future.
- Review progress and recommendations of various workforce planning
initiatives and work groups to ensure consistency with the guiding
- Advise work group leaders of potential problems and facilitate
interaction and discussion with/among groups to prevent or resolve concerns
in a collaborative manner.
- Advise groups on developing documentation and tracking systems, as
necessary, to monitor progress and outcome and to provide that information
to the WOFSC.
- Identify inconsistencies or conflicts and make recommendations to
ensure that the outcomes of workforce planning initiatives support the
guiding principles, Agency goals and objectives, the strategic plan,
budgetary limits, civil rights requirements, diversity objectives, and LMR
obligations and other employee organization commitments.
- Ensure clear, consistent and timely internal and external communication
about progress, outcome.
- Ensure the roles and responsibilities of new or modified positions are
clearly defined and are not overlapping or duplicative with each other and
with existing positions.
- Identify areas where employees in new or modified positions, whether
selected from within or hired externally, need adequate and consistent
Agency support to become fully integrated into the workforce.
- Identify missing and overlapping areas to work group leaders and make
recommendations to the Administrator on areas of concern.
- Prepare and submit consolidated progress reports to the Agency’s
executive leadership on the various workforce initiatives.
KEY WORK GROUPS/INITIATIVES
WORKFORCE OF THE FUTURE/FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM OF THE FUTURE
Chair, Steering Committee on Workforce of the Future - Yvonne Davis
WOFSC Group 1A: Ensuring an Effective Regulatory
Workforce - Joanne Bolton, Leader
|Consumer Safety Inspector
Conversion Initiative (WOF 1)
||Introduce the technical consumer
safety inspector (CSI,
GS-1862) into the FSIS workforce by converting processing and non-line
food inspectors in HACCP plants.
|Marlin Waller, OM
|Consumer Safety Officer
|Introduce the professional consumer
safety officer/food safety officer (CSO, GS-696) into the FSIS
||Bill Smith, OFO; Jerry Skufe, OFO
|FSIS Veterinary Medical Officer
of the Future Task Force
|Define the future roles of veterinarians
in FSIS, particularly with the implementation of HACCP systems and pathogen
reduction requirements for meat and poultry.
||Ron Hicks, OM
Dale Boyle, NAFV
WOFSC Group 1B: Ensuring an Effective Regulatory
Workforce - Krista Marting, Leader
|HACCP-Based Inspection Models
Project (WOF 11)
||Develop & test new inspection
models in up to 25 volunteer slaughter plants to determine if new
inspection procedures, together with more extensive plant HACCP &
process control systems, can improve food safety and increase consumer
||Mike Grasso, Pat Stolfa, OPPDE
Project (WOF 12)
|Develop and test new inspection
models for in-distribution (11 positions) on a parallel track in locations
near the first group of participating plants
||Mary Cutshall, Phil Derfler, OPPDE
|Working Group on Future
Roles/Responsibilities of FSIS Compliance Officers (WOF 13)
||Define the future roles,
responsibilities and reporting of FSIS compliance officers so that
they apply enforcement authorities to promote industry accountability for
||Carol Seymour, FO
WOFSC Group 2: Meshing Strategic Planning and
Budget Priorities - Linda Russell, Leader
|FSIS Strategic Planning and
2001-2005 (WOF 21)
|Coordinate a process to mesh
strategic planning and budgetary priorities at the Agency level.
||Charles Danner, OM & Ray
|National Food Safety System Project
|Focus is more effective implementation of
existing Federal programs. Method: Garner informed ideas from State and
local officials as part of collaborative process on how Federal, State, and
local government food safety agencies could work more effectively together.
||Ralph Stafko, OPPDE
|President’s Council on Food Safety
Strategic Planning Task Force
|Develop a comprehensive, national strategic
plan for food safety, and develop a unified food safety budget.
||Robert Tynan contact
C. Woteki lead for strategic plan;
C. Wilcox lead for unified budget.
|Inventory of Interactions with States
|Develop an inventory of current interactions
and responsibilities; identify measures that could possibly improve the
effectiveness of these interactions. Completed in FY 99.
Evelyn McGovern, OM
WOFSC Group 3: Matching Human Resources with Strategic
Priorities and Mission - Jim Duoos, Leader
|HIMP oversight and verification staffing
assessment. (WOF 31)
||The purpose of the staffing activity as part
of HIMP is to develop a method for determining the most effective use of
|Work Assignment System Task Group
|Develop a work assignment system (processing).
|Farm to Table Resource Management Tool (WOF
||Assess the overall impact of the rule and
provide a computer-based, farm-to-table risk management tool that will
enable FSIS to better allocate its resources to protect the public health.
||Cynthia Williams, OPPDE
|Position Classification Function (WOF 34)
||Ensure occupations are appropriately
classified to reflect duties and responsibilities; and associated skills,
knowledge and abilities.
Retaining, Recruiting and Educating a Diverse
Workforce - Jill Kubina, Leader
|Innovative Recruitment Strategies
|Develop and implement an Agency-wide
recruitment plan to reach additional and more diverse applicant pools for
FSIS positions. Select and train a cadre of recruiters.
||Brenda Fisher, OM
|Retaining a Diverse Workforce (WOF 42)
||Optimize performance of the Agency's mission
by ensuring access to the best employees available through the hiring,
promotion, training, and recognition of a diverse workforce.
||Cynthia Mercado, OA
Training and Education 2001 & Beyond (TEC-2001)
|Examine current education & training
activities in FSIS, conduct an assessment of Agency needs, develop an
education vision for the Agency, and develop a strategy for delivery of
education and training for the 21st century.
||Peggy Nunnery, OM
|Use of Special Hiring Authorities to
Increase Available Scientific Expertise (WOF 44)
||Identify, develop, and implement hiring
programs that will enhance the Agency’s scientific and public health
expertise and provide opportunities to hire professionals from a diverse
range of scientific disciplines. E.g., Food Safety Fellows Program,
expanded use of the PHS Commissioned Corps Officers, detail assignments to
universities and other Federal agencies.
||Eli Walker, OPHS
Laurie Lindsay, OM
Rhonda Carr, OM
|Field Automation Information Management
|To automate and support the FSIS field force.
WOFSC Group 5 - Communication and Employee Support -
Sharin Sachs/Chris Sinclair, Co-leaders
|All Work Groups, Initiatives, Functions
||Draft plan discussed at March 2000 WOFSC
||All WOFSC members
FSIS Guiding Principles for
Transition to the Workforce of the Future
FSIS, in concert with other federal, state and local agencies, is moving
toward a farm-to-table national food safety and consumer protection system.
The Agency must redeploy its resources, including workforce, to support the
new national system. The probable duration for this transition is October
1, 1999, through September 30, 2005. FSIS developed guiding principles to
help minimize employee disruption and facilitate consistency as FSIS
reorganized for HACCP implementation. Now, as FSIS begins this transition
to the workforce of the future, guiding principles are just as important.
Change is inevitable; but continuity is also critical. These guiding
principles, which might be thought of as ground rules for the transition,
provide a framework against which Agency actions and decisions will be
considered to ensure a consistent FSIS approach.
*Theme: Many FSIS employees will be
offered a job in the workforce of the future.
- The Agency goal is to have a position to offer every permanent FSIS
employee wishing to remain with the Agency. The position offered will
likely involve different duties and responsibilities and may require the
employee to relocate.
- Permanent employees, who would be required to
relocate or gain additional qualifications, and who do not wish to do so,
would be provided Career Transition and/or outplacement assistance, as
*Theme: FSIS will help prepare current
employees to serve in the workforce of the future.
- The Agency will provide assistance to employees
who demonstrate responsibility for their own personal development.
Financial assistance will be provided to the extent that budgetary
- The Agency will provide all employees with
information that will help them evaluate their current qualifications
against qualifications for specific occupational categories in the
workforce of the future.
- The Agency will provide all employees with
information on education and training resources pertinent to gaining the
qualifications needed to serve in specific occupational categories in the
workforce of the future. The Agency will provide a reasonable timeframe for
employees to meet the proper educational/training qualifications.
*Theme: Fairness and Consistency
- The Agency will develop and implement policies
and processes that provide consistency and fairness in the allocation of
resources for training and educating current employees to serve in the
workforce of the future.
- The Agency will develop and implement policies
and processes for staffing the organizational structure to provide
consistency and fairness in treatment of employees.
- Sensitivity and attention to civil rights impact
/requirements and equal employment opportunity principles will be an
integral part of dealing with all transition issues.
- The Agency will continue to deal in good faith
with the union and employee organizations by operating in accordance with
LMR statutes and/or agreements.
*Theme: FSIS will minimize disruption to
employees during the transition of its workforce. Two-way communication is
a critical mechanism for minimizing disruption and enabling employees to
make their own choices.
- FSIS acknowledges that change is difficult for
employees. The transition will be managed in a way that minimizes
disruption to FSIS programs and the lives of FSIS employees.
- The Agency recognizes that employees who are
well informed, and given the opportunity to comment on workforce issues are
in the best position to make sound decisions about their personal futures.
Therefore, there will be open, continuous and timely communication with all
employees on transition issues and progress on implementation. The Agency
will also continue its open public dialogue on workforce of the future