Why GAO Did This StudyThe AQI program guards against agriculture threats by inspecting international passengers and cargo at U.S. ports of entry, seizing prohibited material, and intercepting foreign agricultural pests. The program, which cost $861 million in 2011, is funded from annual appropriations and user fees. GAO has reported several times on the need to revise the fees to cover program costs as authorized. In 2010, [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)] initiated a review of AQI costs and fee design options. APHIS and CBP are considering options for a new fee structure. Pending departmental approval, APHIS expects to issue a proposed rule in fall 2013. GAO was asked to examine issues related to the AQI fees. This report examines 1) the fees currently charged and proposed revisions; 2) how fee revenues are allocated between the agencies; and 3) the extent to which fee collection processes provide reasonable assurance that all AQI fees due are collected. To do this, GAO reviewed AQI fee and cost data, and relevant laws, regulations, and policies; observed inspections at ports of entry; and interviewed APHIS and CBP officials.
What GAO RecommendsGAO is making a number of recommendations aimed at more fully aligning fees with program costs, aligning the division of fees between APHIS and CBP with their respective costs, and ensuring that fees are collected when due. Further, GAO suggests Congress amend the AQI fee authority to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program. USDA and DHS generally agreed with the recommendations.
Friday, March 1, 2013
GAO Report Released: Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Fees: Major Changes Needed to Align Fee Revenues with Program Costs
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Fees: Major Changes Needed to Align Fee Revenues with Program Costs GAO-13-268 (Mar. 1, 2013). The details of the 56-page report, available here, are discussed below: