Ranking Member Bishop Statement at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General Oversight Hearing

2023-03-09 10:08

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Ranking Membero f the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture oversight hearing:

Thank you, Dr. Harris.

I would also like to welcome our witnesses and thank you for appearing before us.

Since the budget was just transmitted today, my questions will not focus on the budget but on your day to day work.

As I stated in previous years, I have always been a big supporter of your office.  You are the largely unsung heroes in the battle against waste, fraud, and abuse.

For example, in Fiscal Year 2022 alone, the OIG’s audit work identified $388 million that could be put to better use and the office’s investigative work led to 240 convictions of individuals and entities engaged in criminal, civil, or administrative wrongdoing.

I cannot overstate how important this work is to America. Our rural communities and agriculture industry affect the lives of every single American almost every single day. USDA federal programs help ensure that we produce the best, most abundant, and most affordable food for our families as well as materials vital to a wide range of American industries – from construction to medicine.

Your work ensures that the more than $250 billion in annual appropriations that our committee and Congress entrust to USDA are used most effectively – including more than $77 billion in pandemic response activities and $8.3 billion in infrastructure investments which will reshape our country and keep us at the cutting edge in the decades ahead.

Realizing what is at stake, Congress must be sure to provide both oversight and resources necessary for the OIG to continue to do its job. As a great nation, we can accomplish much but that makes the need for the OIG all the greater.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to support your efforts but would also like to take this opportunity to ask about a few cases where oversight has been needed.

I would like to ask you about two cases where APHIS failed to monitor funds to outside entities involving nearly $150 million and three cases where USDA hastily created programs but did not have proper controls over more than $350 million in payments.

Thank you and I yield back.

118th Congress