Manuel Madrid’s Climb up the FSIS Career Ladder
By Suzanne Hensell, OPACE
Manuel Madrid, personnel misconduct investigator (PMI) in FSIS’ Internal Affairs (IA) office in Litchfield Park, Arizona, recently celebrated his 30-year anniversary with the agency. In his current role, he investigates allegations of employee misconduct, including waste, fraud and abuse. IA learns about potential employee misconduct and other allegations in a number of ways: they may receive a complaint from FSIS’ Office of Management’s Labor and Employee Relations Division or other program areas; through hotline complaints from USDA’s Office of the Inspector General; or as a special request from other sources.
Madrid’s Three Decades Long FSIS Career
Madrid first learned about opportunities at FSIS from a veterinarian who helped care for livestock and horses on his family ranch. The veterinarian provided detailed descriptions of some of the positions in FSIS; Madrid was intrigued and decided to submit his application.
He began his FSIS career in April 1993 as a food inspector (FI) in Texas, where he performed post-mortem inspection for both beef and poultry. After two years, Madrid worked in Missouri and Arizona as what was then known as a processing inspector — a position whose current functions are captured now as a consumer safety inspector (CSI). He inspected beef, poultry, sheep and even alligator that was further processed.
In 2000, Madrid became a compliance investigator (CI) for the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit. Said Madrid, “The CI takes over where the FI/CSI stops — a CI conducts investigations into apparent violations, food safety incidents, food defense incidents, or other allegations or incidents under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and related laws and regulations.”
After five years as a CI in Utah and Arizona, Madrid was asked to help set up the new program to investigate employee misconduct, currently known as Internal Affairs. He has served as a PMI for the past 18 years. In the beginning, he helped write the directives, policies and procedures, borrowing heavily from information from FSIS’ Compliance Investigation Division.
Madrid as Mentor
In the past year, Madrid has mentored seven other PMIs, five of whom came from other federal departments. Madrid’s field experience makes him a good mentor. He provided guidance related to procedures, policy and regulations, showed them how to format reports, and reviewed work product prior to submission for supervisory review. He provided this mentorship while continuing to conduct investigations assigned to him. In total, he has mentored more than 15 investigators new to IA.
Madrid’s supervisor, Director of Internal Affairs Julie Lastra, said, “Manuel is a consummate professional who has decades of experience with FSIS. He started out in the field and brings a great deal of technical expertise to his role in Internal Affairs. He exemplifies all of FSIS’ core values and I lean on him not only as a senior investigator, but as a mentor to new investigators. In fact, Manuel volunteered to help develop an onboarding program so new investigators would become productive and high-performing right from the start. He invests in each of his colleagues and wants them to be successful because his mentality is ‘if one of us succeeds, we all succeed.’ Manuel is dedicated to the mission of the agency and I feel privileged to work directly with him. He is one of the finest federal government employees I have encountered in my 24 years of service.”
Not only has Madrid mentored others, but he has also been mentored by several people throughout his FSIS career. Madrid said, “I learned something from each of my mentors, including the importance of understanding my position and working hard to achieve mission goals with integrity, honesty and appreciation for my colleagues.” Madrid continues to stay in touch with most of his former mentors.
FSIS Core Values
Of the four FSIS Core Values — Accountable, Collaborative, Empowered and Solutions-Oriented — Madrid feels collaborative best describes him. Said Madrid, “I feel I have a strong collaborative mindset, which is why I have chosen to be a mentor. We become better and accomplish more when we work together.”
Madrid also feels empowered to be successful in protecting public health through the many training opportunities FSIS provides. These include both online training through AgLearn and in-person training.
Madrid and his wife, Dora, have five children. When not performing investigations, he enjoys working with and riding horses on his ranch, fishing, hunting and traveling.
Photo courtesy of Madrid.