We Got a Plan.. An Import Safety “Plan” – Part 1

Thursday, November 8, 2007 3:55
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On Tuesday, an article came across my RSS that I just knew was going to lead to a post.. or series of posts. Bush’s Import-Safety Plan Is Detailed in the NY Times reported that the “plan” has been released

There is a lot of information that I am going to try and pack in here, so bear with me.

On November 6, the White House released its Fact Sheet while Michael Leavitt and Dana Perino were giving a press conference on “the Plan”, the process behind “the plan”, and what the plan in terms of “the plan” being rolled out.

So first some highlights from the press conference. Of course, over the last 6 months, there has been an increased effort to deal with this problem. There were toys from Mattel and RC2, tires, toothpaste, and other products that were being recalled during the summer, and Americans were scared of products from Communist China poisoning and killing Americans.

so, with that in mind, the Import Safety Commission set out on a mission to get down to the bottom of things:

I, personally, went to ports and border crossings and freight hubs and post offices and I saw drugs and vegetables and fish being processed. I went to retailers and wholesalers and fruit stands. I’ve inspected personally everything from imported tire irons to gingerbread houses.

and they asked questions….

They went deep. They asked questions like, “What are the current authorities that we have?” Asked questions like: “Do we need more authority?” “What are the changes that need to happen if we’re to be able to respond in a global economy?” “What are the limitations we have?” “Do we have enough resources?” Et cetera.

and they got answers…

And I think the thing that impresses you most when you see this is how much it takes to fill up and empty out the American pantry every day.

and then they made recommendations

There are 50 specific suggestions and recommendations in 14 categories. So you’ll find it quite specific. It includes stronger certification; in other words, the capacity for us to require, in certain situations, that manufactures certify or have certified the safety of their product before it comes to the United States.

and then following this, the floor was opened up for Q&A. A few of the questions focused on China and “Made in China”, but the majority really focused on food safety, how to implement the measures, and what the costs were going to be.

There was one part that got interesting as Leavitt was asked what parts of the plan could go into effect immediately and what the costs would be. At one point, Leavitt was asked how much this was going to cost, he said that with 12 departments it was difficult to say and that each department considered it a top priority in their 2009 budget.

To which a reporter responded “But in the meantime, between now and then, how do you deal with the problem?”

Overall, this conference and the presentation of the plan were pretty uninteresting, and in some ways insulting (He even referenced the World is Flat!!). From this transcript, it is clear that these “recommendations” (see part 2 of this series) are really loose ideas, that the persons responsible do not have a full understanding of the underlying issues, and that with 12 departments getting involved in this “plan”… the plan is probably going to find itself stalled out in inter-agency gridlock and process.

Coming soon. Part 2 – THE PLAN, its findings, and its recommendations

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