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SAFHER cloud-based platform for regulating food and agriculture comes closer to fruition

SAFHER cloud-based platform for regulating food and agriculture comes closer to fruition

SAFHER cloud-based platform for regulating food and agriculture comes closer to fruition

A next-generation, cloud-based system to help state and local officials manage food and agriculture regulations will come to fruition this month, with the team that coordinates it selecting implementation managers and technology platforms. One step closer.

States have similar regulations and processes when it comes to food safety, which can lead to gaps and overlaps in data. To streamline the regulatory process and facilitate data sharing across the state, the Food and Drug Administration (AFDO), a nonprofit regulatory organization, has created a system for agriculture, food, health, electronic testing, and registration ( SAFHER) is being developed.

The Enterprise Platform replaces the legacy systems USA Food Safety and USA Plants, allowing state and local regulatory agencies to administer licenses, inspections, complaints, compliance, reporting, and SAFHER for enforcement. Foods, processed foods, pesticides.

In an introductory video, Rich Medina Colorado, director of technology for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said the platform is designed to provide the state with a break from legacy systems. Multi-tenant SAFHER makes it easier for states to perform common jobs, and flexible low-code/no-code programs allow processes to be customized. It also allows states to share information, and business intelligence influences the process, he said.

On January 11th, the team announced that it had selected Precise Software Solutions as its implementation manager and Appian as its technology platform. AFDO is working with 26 agencies in 20 states on this project.

AFDO’s SAFHER Director and Chief Innovation Officer, Kellie Isaac, said the new system will address some of the challenges state and local agencies face with existing technology. increase.

First, when policies change, government agencies are now waiting for developers to update their regulatory systems. This can take time that the state cannot always afford. “This will be a core solution that standardizes business processes and data to reduce costs,” he said. SAFHER will also allow states to make custom changes quickly, she said.

Second, SAFHER makes it easier for states to set up user-friendly digital services. For example, the public can use the portal to interact with food and drug safety authorities to request licenses to open restaurants, register pet food, and file complaints. .

“This will allow residents to file complaints, communicate with state officials, and share that information across the region,” Isaac said.

Third, AFDO works to standardize data and create data governance and data sharing policies. Datasets include restaurant and grocery store licenses and registrations, inspection reports, food and agriculture data, and consumer complaints.

“To share data, you need regular data, consistent data,” she said. “Everybody understands the definition of risk, uses the same definition, and quantifies it the same way.”

Ultimately, SAFHER will provide state-of-the-art technology that states cannot afford alone, Isaac said. Costs will depend on the number of programs and users, and AFDO will work on pricing in the coming months, said Steven Mandernach, executive director of the organization.

“We haven’t yet found a state that doesn’t cost less than $200,000 a year,” Mandernach said. This is close to his AFDO estimate that initial configuration and data migration will cost him $35,000 to $110,000, and annual ongoing maintenance and licensing will cost him $110,000 to $160,000.

SAFHER is funded by a three-year collaborative agreement worth approximately $18 million from the Federal Food and Drug Administration. A fully functioning pilot will be ready in about 18 months, and the partner state plans to transition to the system within his 28 months.

SAFHER is based on the previous system. Twenty-some years ago, Pennsylvania pioneered the idea of ​​building a data system that could be used programmatically and statewide, Mandernack said. This led to the formation of USA Food Safety and USA Plants, which are used for agricultural regulatory programs such as pesticides and fertilizers.

The effort has shown efficiencies and cost savings. Those are the two things he expects SAFHER to improve. “At some point, people were very proprietary to their own process,” he said. “I think the time for process improvement has really arrived in government now. They understand that we can probably do better. There are so many benefits to using a process that is very similar to our neighbors because we are not alone.”

Additionally, SAFHER is future-proofing the work, said Earl Thornton, a member of the Project Management Council and director of IT for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, in a press release.

Thornton said of SAFHER, “It was designed from the ground up to provide everything you need to regulate in the agricultural and food safety space.” It will also benefit from the best ideas of so many organizations and will continue to grow as the regulatory environment changes over time.”

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in Northern Virginia.

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