APHIS, ARS lab workers sanctioned for improper use of credentials

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Ames, Iowa -- Several employees with USDA laboratories in Ames, Iowa, were sanctioned for alleged improper conduct by using their credentials to purchase medications for human use for the benefit of other employees.

Ames, Iowa

-- Several employees with USDA laboratories in Ames, Iowa, were sanctioned for alleged improper conduct by using their credentials to purchase medications for human use for the benefit of other employees.

Nineteen employees, 17 with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and two with the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) facility, were accused following an investigation that started earlier this year.

At APHIS, two employees retired, one resigned and two returned to duty with no formal administrative action. The other 12 employees returned to duty with administrative action, which could range from letters of reprimand to suspension to removal from federal service.

ARS reports that “appropriate action has been taken” regarding its two employees, but a spokesman would not say more.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is continuing to investigate.

The USDA commissioned two third-party reviews, one of Ames’ laboratory processes and the other of the laboratories’ management and culture. Both reviews have been completed.

“Taken together, the reviews acknowledge the facility’s complex culture and challenges facing the work force, as well as affirm the laboratories are highly efficient organizations that are appropriately protecting U.S. animal health,” according to a USDA news release. “We are gratified the reviews also validate that no test results or other official laboratory activities were compromised in any way by the alleged activity announced back in February.”

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