2016 Top Places to Work in PR: USDA FSIS Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education (OPACE)

Many consumers take food safety for granted. To the extent consumers do think about where their meat comes from they may not want to think about the actual process that brings an animal from the farm to their plate. The inherent difficulty of talking about livestock slaughter and food-borne illness forces communicators at OPACE to be creative and innovative.

People may not want to talk about what it takes to provide consumers with safe meat but it is OPACE’s mission and culture to find creative ways to make it happen. OPACE’s culture is dedicated. OPACE employees get to go to work and know that their communications save lives. They are dedicated public servants with a sincere desire to protect Americans from food-borne illness. Every employee knows that when they do their job, Americans get to consume food safely; when they don’t there are sons, daughters, grandmothers, and grandfathers just like their own who could become ill and die. That is a powerful current in OPACE’s culture.

In direct response to 2014 and 2015 feedback, OPACE has been steadily increasing its training budget. In 2015, more money was spent on training than in any previous year. However, dollars spent aren’t the best measure of the quality of training; only a reflection of management’s commitment to ensuring employees have the best trained workforce in the agency. OPACE uses a combination training methods including bringing in outside trainers and sending individual employees to outside training events relevant to their specific projects. Management is committed to OPACE's top-notch training program for the sake of its public health mission.