Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia: "While it appears that the problems identified in the report are managerial in nature, I can not emphasize enough my frustration and discomfort on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers."
In a report issued in December of 2005, the General Accounting Office reported several errors in the way GIPSA officials had been operating. The errors included, not reporting cattle slaughtered, underreporting purchases, delays in providing sales information, and inaccurate price reporting that took weeks to correct.
In January of 2006, USDA's own Office of Inspector General released an audit reporting problems within GIPSA. The investigation showed that for the past five years, GIPSA officials had inflated the total number of investigations carried out against the major meat packers and charged that GIPSA management effectively shutdown any and all investigations associated with those complaints.
Tom Harkin, D- Iowa: "Do you feel that any further action should be taken, regarding the past deputy administrator."
Phyllis Fong, Inspectors General, GIPSA: "We did not find any evidence that would lead us to make a referral to the investigative side of the house. In other words, we did not find any indication of criminal conduct, as it were, and so I'm not sure what further action could be taken at this point. "
James Link, the newest GIPSA deputy administrator, assured the committee that previous errors were being corrected.
James Link, GIPSA: "We have already begun making the fundamental changes in the culture of the organization that are essential to empower our employees to enforce the Act."
Chairman Chambliss reprimanded the USDA representatives about their work and gave Link 90 days to report back about changes to GIPSA. Chambliss indicated that failure to comply would result in another hearing.