December 18, 2014
USDA Audit Urges Improved Oversight of Animal Research Facilities
An audit released by the USDA Office of Inspector General should bring changes in oversight of animal research facilities, including increased penalties and transparency. The audit highlights failures of research facilities in terms of following minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act.
Key findings include:
- USDA’s enforcement actions are weak and do not serve as a deterrent to future violations. OIG found USDA reduced penalties by 86 percent from the authorized maximum, even in cases involving animal deaths.
- Failures of research facilities, particularly the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees that review and monitor animal research protocols. During fiscal years 2009 to 2011, USDA inspectors cited 531 research facilities for 1,379 IACUC-related violations regarding their lack of oversight.
Many of the audit’s conclusions are in line with evidence submitted by The Humane Society of the United States to OIG at the start of, and throughout, the process.
Kathleen Conlee, VP of animal research issues for The HSUS said: “The public expects animal research facilities to at least follow the minimal standards of the law. It is our hope there will be a real cost to these facilities when they fail to do so. We also believe it’s time for Congress and others to take a close look at the current IACUC system, because it is clearly failing the animals.”
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