The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just released a report that discusses how the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) new overseas food safety offices are functioning and offers recommendations for enhancing strategic planning and developing a workforce plan “to help recruit and retain overseas staff.” Titled “Oversees Offices Have Taken Steps to Help Ensure Import Safety, but More Long-Term Planning Is Needed,” the report was prepared for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

According to the report, an FDA presence in foreign countries has improved the agency’s ability to build relationships with stakeholders abroad, to inspect foreign facilities and provide limited food safety training to overseas counterparts. Still, with only 42 total staff covering China, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Middle East, resources are apparently stretched and FDA has had some challenges with staffing. Foreign language capabilities and the domestic reintegration of staff serving abroad have apparently posed some staffing obstacles.