[Federal Register: October 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 194)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 59005-59006]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06oc06-1]                         


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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. 
Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each 
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[[Page 59005]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

9 CFR Parts 307 and 381

[Docket No. FSIS-2006-0026]

 
Facilities for Inspection

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notification of requirements for facilities and conditions for 
inspection; space for satellite dishes.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is publishing 
this notice to inform federally-inspected meat and poultry 
establishments that the Agency has determined that, under certain 
circumstances, the installation of a satellite dish on establishment 
premises by the Agency is essential to the efficient conduct of 
inspection. FSIS is also advising these establishments that, where 
these circumstances exist, FSIS expects that the establishments will 
provide space on their premises for FSIS to install a satellite dish. 
Because the use of information technology has become an integral part 
of FSIS' inspection process, FSIS has determined that inspection 
personnel must have reliable, high-speed Internet access to more 
efficiently and effectively perform their duties. The Agency intends to 
use satellite technology to provide high-speed Internet access to 
inspection personnel in approximately 2000 establishments nationwide.

DATES: Effective October 3, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Kenneth Petersen, Assistant 
Administrator, Office of Field Operations; Telephone (202) 720-8803, e-
mail: kenneth.petersen@fsis.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As a public health regulatory agency with a 
geographically dispersed workforce, FSIS relies on information 
technology to help carry out its mission of ensuring that meat, poultry 
and egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled. More than 
7,600 FSIS inspection personnel conduct their duties in over 6,500 
meat, poultry, and egg product establishments located throughout the 
United States and U.S. territories. Many of these establishments are 
small businesses located in remote, rural areas. Thus, to enhance 
communication among all FSIS personnel and to assist inspection 
personnel to conduct their duties more efficiently, FSIS has 
incorporated the use of information technology into the inspection 
process.
    As part of the inspection process, FSIS inspection personnel use 
information technology (IT) systems developed by the Agency to record 
and report information about their daily food safety, food defense, and 
humane handling verification activities. In addition, inspection 
personnel rely on Agency IT systems to track the status of product 
samples that they have collected as part of their verification 
activities and submitted to an FSIS laboratory for analysis. FSIS IT 
systems permit inspection personnel to electronically access and 
retrieve documents that contain information that they need to properly 
perform their inspection duties, such as FSIS regulations, directives, 
notices, and technical references. Agency IT systems also permit 
inspection personnel to participate in computer-based on-line training 
and allow them to obtain timely updates to inspection-related computer 
applications, such as the performance-based inspection system (PBIS) 
and electronic animal disposition reporting system (eADRS) 
applications.
    As described above, FSIS' IT systems have been effective in 
assisting inspection personnel to conduct their inspection activities 
more efficiently. However, because access to most Agency IT systems 
requires that the user connect to the Internet, these systems are most 
effective when inspection personnel have reliable high-speed Internet 
access (also referred to as ``broadband''). Therefore, as part of its 
ongoing effort to develop and upgrade its IT systems, FSIS is working 
to provide all of its inspection personnel with high-speed Internet 
access.
    FSIS has made, and continues to make, progress in replacing the 
dial-up connections used by inspection personnel in the field with 
high-speed telecommunication lines. However, not all establishments are 
located in areas that have ready access to high-speed Internet service. 
Several meat and poultry establishments are located in remote, rural 
areas that are outside of the nearest land-based Internet provider's 
coverage area. For inspectors assigned to establishments in these 
areas, the best option for obtaining broadband access is through 
satellite Internet because it can be accessed regardless of where the 
user is located. In addition, broadband satellite is also the most 
appropriate option for providing high-speed Internet to inspectors in 
certain areas that also have access to broadband technologies other 
than satellite because broadband satellite has lower on-going monthly 
costs and a much greater coverage area.
    Therefore, to ensure that all inspection personnel have access to a 
high-speed Internet connection, FSIS has decided to provide satellite 
Internet to inspection personnel assigned to approximately 2000 
establishments nationwide. Close to 700 of these establishments are 
located in remote, rural areas that do not have access to other 
broadband technologies. The remaining sites are in areas that have 
access to other Internet technologies but where broadband satellite is 
the most appropriate option because of its lower cost and greater 
coverage.
    To obtain satellite Internet service, the Agency must first install 
a satellite dish on the outside premises of establishments where it 
intends to use this technology. In circumstances where FSIS has decided 
to use broadband satellite technology, the Agency expects meat and 
poultry establishments to provide space on establishment premises for 
the Agency to install a satellite dish pursuant to two FSIS 
regulations, 9 CFR 307.1 and 9 CFR 381.36.
    The regulations in 9 CFR part 307 and 9 CFR subpart G prescribe 
facilities that official meat and poultry establishments must provide 
for inspection. 9 CFR 307.1 and 9 CFR 381.36(a) of these regulations 
require that meat and poultry establishments provide office space rent 
free for government personnel to use for official purposes. These 
regulations also describe the conditions required for this space. The 
meat inspection regulations at 9 CFR

[[Page 59006]]

307.2 prescribe additional facilities and conditions that 
establishments must provide for inspection.
    Under 9 CFR 307.2, FSIS may require such other facilities and 
conditions ``as may be found to be essential to efficient conduct of 
inspection.'' Because inspection personnel must have high-speed 
Internet access to efficiently perform their duties, FSIS has 
determined that, in circumstances where the Agency intends to use 
satellite technology to establish broadband Internet access, space for 
the Agency to install a satellite dish on the establishment premises is 
a condition that is essential to efficient conduct of inspection as 
provided in 9 CFR 307.2. 9 CFR 381.36(a) states that establishments are 
required to provide ``[o]ffice space, including, but not being limited 
to, furnishings, light, heat, and janitor service''. In addition, 9 CFR 
381.36(a) requires that this office space meet the approval of FSIS. 
Thus, under 9 CFR 381.36(a), the Agency has discretion to identify the 
facilities and conditions that establishments are required to furnish 
as part of the office space that they must provide for inspection. FSIS 
has determined that, in circumstances where the Agency intends to use 
broadband satellite to establish a high-speed Internet connection, 
space for FSIS to install a satellite dish on the establishment 
premises is a reasonable adjunct to the office space that 
establishments are required to provide under 9 CFR 381.36(a).
    This action will not impose any costs on establishments where FSIS 
must install a satellite dish to establish high-speed Internet access. 
FSIS will pay for all equipment and installation of the satellite 
service. Because the satellite dish will be installed in close 
proximity to the government office, the establishment will not lose the 
use of its physical plant to any cognizable degree.
    FSIS will provide notice to the specific establishments at which it 
intends to install a satellite dish before obtaining satellite service.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that the 
public and in particular minorities, women, and persons with 
disabilities, are aware of this notice, FSIS will announce it on-line 
through the FSIS Web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/2006_Notices_Index/index.asp
.

    The Regulations.gov Web site is the central online rulemaking 
portal of the United States government. It is being offered as a public 
service to increase participation in the Federal government's 
regulatory activities. FSIS participates in Regulations.gov and will 
accept comments on documents published on the site. The site allows 
visitors to search by keyword or Department or Agency for rulemakings 
that allow for public comment. Each entry provides a quick link to a 
comment form so that visitors can type in their comments and submit 
them to FSIS. The Web site is located at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and other types of 
information that could affect or would be of interest to our 
constituents and stakeholders. The update is communicated via Listserv, 
a free e-mail subscription service consisting of industry, trade, and 
farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied health professionals, 
scientific professionals, and other individuals who have requested to 
be included. The update also is available on the FSIS Web page. Through 
Listserv and the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a 
much broader, more diverse audience.
    In addition, FSIS offers an e-mail subscription service which 
provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news 
and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news_and_events/email_subscription/.
 Options range from recalls to 

export information to regulations, directives and notices. Customers 
can add or delete subscriptions themselves and have the option to 
password protect their account.

    Done in Washington, DC, October 3, 2006.
Barbara J. Masters,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. E6-16610 Filed 10-5-06; 8:45 am]

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