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Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis (ORACBA)

The Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis (ORACBA) was established by the Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-354, H.R.4271,
Section 304
).P.L. 103-354, H.R., Section 304 ORACBA began operation on April 15, 1995, in USDA's Office of the Chief Economist.

The Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis's (ORACBA) primary role is to ensure that major regulations proposed by USDA are based on sound scientific and economic analysis.


Linda Abbott, ORACBA Director

  • Will be making a Dietary Risk Assessment Presentation at the Joint Institute for Food Safely and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) on September 25, 2014.
  • Will speak in the “The Introduction and Application of Environmental Assessment” workshop on December 7, 2014 at the Society for Risk Analysis annual meeting.  See flyer.
  • Will participate in the OECD Expert Meeting on the Categorization of Manufactured Nanomaterials on September 17-19 in Washington, DC.


ORACBA is co-sponsoring a seminar on The Role of Adaptive Management in Addressing Uncertainty in Environmental Decision Making on Friday, September 19, 2014 (RSVP to Required). Co-sponsors include the George Washington University Law School, and the Society for Risk Analysis-National Capital Area Chapter, and the Environmental Law Institute. See entry below for additional information.

Mark Powell, ORACBA Risk Scientist

Powell, M. 2014. The Food Safety Impact of the Codex Sampling Plans for Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Foods: An Empirical Case Study Applying the FAO/WHO Sampling Plan Tool. Food Control.

Abstract: Sampling plans are specified by the Codex Alimentarius Commission microbiological criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. This case study evaluates the direct food safety impact of the Codex sampling plans as estimated by the FAO/WHO web-based microbiological sampling plan analysis tool under different assumptions about the pathogen distribution, test procedures, and the fraction of lots tested. The case study uses L. monocytogenes concentration data available for deli-type salads to empirically illustrate application of the sampling tool. The results indicate that the estimated impact of the sampling plans is dependent on the partitioning of total observed variance into its within- and between-lot components. The presence-absence based sampling plan is relatively insensitive to the substantial uncertainty and variability of the sensitivity of the reference method for detection of L. monocytogenes. The analytical sample size for enumeration impacts the ability of the concentration-based sampling plan to discriminate between compliant and non-compliant lots. Reducing the frequency of lot testing dramatically changes the statistical properties of the sampling schemes. Skip-lot sampling places greater importance on compliance assurance than on the direct, curative impact of lot acceptance sampling.

Adaptive Management Conference

ORACBA is co-sponsoring a Risk Forum during the afternoon session of the Adaptive Management Conference at George Washington University Law Learning Center, Moot Court Room, 2028 G Street, NW, Washington, DC.

India Kittrell

Congratulations to India Kittrell, ORACBA’s 2014 summer intern, who has been chosen as a 1890’s Scholar by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and will be returning to ORACBA on a part-time basis this fall.

JIFSAN Courses

The increasing emphasis on risk-based decision making and the increasingly global nature of the food supply have resulted in the use of risk analysis to systematically address food safety issues worldwide. This has created a need to educate food safety and other public health professionals about the principles of food safety risk analysis and the tools and techniques required to apply this approach. For a detailed course description, or to register, visit our website at:
See ORACBA calendar for courses and dates.

Mailing List

Join the ORACBA mailing list and receive notice of all risk forums, related activities and the monthly ORACBA Risk News/Calendar. Join by sending an e-mail to Jennifer Lohr. In the Subject line enter "Mailing List" and be sure to include your phone number and e-mail address.