Missing the MARC: OIG's Investigation Veers Off Target

In September 2015, the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an interim report on its investigation into the allegations of animal abuse at the US Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) by The New York Times (see AWI Quarterly, spring 2015). The report details the OIG’s attempt to determine the veracity of 33 allegations in the Times article. The OIG reports that it had interviewed over 30 individuals, reviewed records back to 1983, and made “significant progress towards the completion of our fieldwork on a majority of the 33 statements.”

Unfortunately, instead of providing assurance that the investigation would be a thorough analysis, the report minimizes the allegations and touts how MARC adhered to rules and regulations. This effort to whitewash the problem is most glaring when the OIG notes it has not even spoken to the two key people in the Times article, the reporter and the veterinarian who made the primary complaint. Further, the OIG analyzed and presented data in ways to make it virtually impossible to examine the details. Granted, this is an interim report and observations may change; however, the current direction does not provide any indication that the OIG review will lead to improved care and welfare for the animals at MARC.

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