Work Measurement Program

Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

Student Walking on the Fairfax Campus


The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labelled and packaged. Today, the FSIS employs approximately 7600 inspectors, working in over 6500 plants nationwide.

FSIS approached George Mason University for help developing a program to collect work measurement data in support of staffing plans. The goal of the FSIS is the development of a work measurement program with results robust enough for release to FSIS stakeholders such as Congress and the labor union, to justify staffing levels.

Project Description

As a precursor to a possible larger-scale effort to collect FSIS work measurement data, FSIS tasked George Mason University (GMU) Master's Degree students to plan and implement a case study to demonstrate a process for:

  • Defining and decomposing an inspection task
  • Developing a plan and implementation instructions for collecting work measurement data
  • Analyzing work measurement data
FSIS has performed some work measurement studies to determine the amount of time that should be allocated for the direct activities related to an MT60 sampling task, but there are multiple indirect activities not specifically accounted for in the assignment of an MT60 collection. These indirect activities include such tasks as the use of PHIS to reserve lab time for sample analysis, working with the inspected plant to determine the sample lot and the timing of inspection, and the entry of inspection data into PHIS. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current multiplier (factor) used for estimating indirect task time. Currently, the indirect multiplier is set at 1.8, which means the indirect time for any assignment is allocated 80% of the direct time. This means the total time for each assigned sampling task is calculated as follows:

Total Time = 1.8 * Direct Time

The tasks related to the MT60 sampling program will be used as a case study to assess this indirect multiplier and to provide an extensible and defensible methodology for the measurement of direct and indirect inspection tasks.