Howard Sklamberg is acting principal deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
He runs counter to the stereotype of humorless, boring bureaucrats. He's actually a funny guy, as people can attest who attended his keynote address at the American Association of Exporters and Importers on June 5 in which he talked about the culture change underway at FDA to become more strategic in how it goes about enforcing food and drug safety regulations.
The federal government is famous for creating acronyms for programs and computer systems. Sklamberg caught my attention when he said his favorite FDA acronym was an "F.U. inspection." (He also told this joke a year earlier at an FDA public meeting on the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is borrowed from too to help tell the story.
On his third day on the job, Sklamberg, who joined the agency in July 2011, said he saw a memo about "FU inspections" following recalls.
"My first thought was that's not a risk-based way of doing things. I mean, we have a firm we don't like and we do an FU inspection? And why put that in a memo for crying out loud?
"I'm telling the truth. It took me three or four days to figure out that that indeed meant 'follow up.' "
FDA video overstates vessel throughput in L.A.
The FDA has a video on its Website explaining how its new PREDICT computer system will use information such as a producer's compliance history, lab test results, country of origin to analyze the potential health risk of imported food, medicine and medical devices so inspectors can focus on those that raise red flags.
talks about how the system will help inspectors at the Port of Los Angeles deal with the flood of imported goods they must clear into U.S. commerce.
But the video, narrated by FDA public affairs official and former ABC News television reporter George Strait, makes the astonishing claim that "more than 1,000 ships a day unload their cargo" at the Port of Los Angeles.
That doesn't make sense because there are "only" 270 berths in the port. About 2,200 vessels per year call on Los Angeles and the number may be closer to 2,700 if cruise vessels are included. - Eric Kulisch