USDA Revises its Inspection Guide to Improve Oversight of Research Facilities

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We have revised our Inspection Guide to bolster consistency in our compliance inspections and to reflect the improvements we have made in response to the USDA Office of Inspector General’s December 2014 audit of how we regulate research facilities under the Animal Welfare Act.


Revisions include the following:

• new instructions for inspecting research facilities which have not engaged in regulated activities in the prior two years [Chapter 4; page 25]

• a more consistent procedure for reporting exceptions and exemptions on the Annual Report [Chapter 7; page 26]

• properly handling significant changes to research protocols – to better align with current guidance issued by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare [Chapter 7; page 27]

• new instructions on reviewing research protocols during inspections [Chapter 7; page 29]

• regulating non-farm animals that are used to develop and test vaccines for farm animals [Chapter 7; page 36]

• updated guidance for completing the Annual Report [Appendix A; pages 35, 39 and 41].


The Inspection Guide is a resource that aids our inspectors in their day-to-day work of making sure that entities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act are treating their animals humanely and adhering to all federal regulations and standards. The Inspection Guide improves the quality and consistency of our inspections, but it does not supersede the Animal Welfare Act or our associated regulations or policies, and it does not replace an inspector’s professional judgment.


The Inspection Guide can be found here. This electronic version will continue to be the most up-to-date version because this is where we will make subsequent revisions. As always, we will notify you of future updates via stakeholder notices like this one.


The Office of Inspector General audit report can be found here.


Note:  If you have received this message second-hand and want to sign up for our Animal Care announcements directly, please visit our agency’s stakeholder registry, located here. It is free to register, and you can pick and choose which topics that most interest you.  



At USDA Animal Care, ensuring the welfare of the animals we regulate is at the heart of everything we do.