Crosse shines light on FDA's regulatory challenges overseas

Monday - 6/16/2014, 2:17pm EDT

Listen to the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp's interview with 2014 Sammies Finalist Marcia Crosse, director of health care at the Government Accountability Office. (Photo by Sam Kittner/Kittner.com)

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With the importation of prescription drugs and medical devices manufactured outside the U.S. on the rise, the Food and Drug Administration faced a potential crisis. How could the agency effectively inspect foreign manufacturing plants in order to adequately protect the public health?

Acting as a congressional watchdog, Marcia Crosse, the director of the Government Accountability Office's health care division, brought into focus the regulatory challenges FDA was facing with the growth of globalization. This led to an increase of funding, the FDA opening overseas offices in places like India and China, and more inspections of foreign manufacturers.

"Health care has changed dramatically over the past two decades, but too often the FDA was caught unprepared," said Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the head of the GAO. "Marcia Crosse has been at the forefront of identifying needed improvements in the oversight of medical products. As a result, Congress has enacted into law many of Crosse's recommendations to improve FDA operations and protect public health."

For her work in helping to preserve the public heath, the Partnership for Public Service recently named Crosse as one of the finalists for the 2014 Citizens Services Medal. The award recognizes federal employees who have made important contributions in the area of citizens services. This includes economic development, health care, education, housing, labor and transportation.

Getting to know Marcia Crosse

Federal News Radio asked each of the Sammies finalists five questions about themselves. Here are Crosse's responses:

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Trust, decide and support.

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?
Work hard; be smart; don't screw up. These are the three rules that Bruce Layton, a former colleague, told me when I first came to work at GAO, and I think they are really the three keys to succeeding anywhere.

Who is your greatest role model and why?
I think my husband is my greatest role model. He's incredibly kind, hard-working, and a truly good person. He sets a wonderful example for our children and me, and has pushed me to try new things and expand my experiences.

What's the last thing you read and what's next on your reading list?
I'm a big reader of the news and news blogs for my work, but when it comes to reading books, I'm a real fan of British murder mysteries. The last thing I read was "Last Bus to Woodstock". Next up on the list is "The Silkworm", (if Amazon can work out its disputes with the publisher so I can get it on my Kindle).

What would be the title of your autobiography and why?
You Learn Something Every Day. I have found this to be true in my work, and it's what keeps me coming back year after year. I also think it's true in my personal life. For example, I'm constantly learning from my sons, who have interests and experiences so different from my own. I think it's also a cautionary admonition for me to remember that I've never truly mastered a subject. There's always more to learn.

The Citizen Services Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a photo gallery of all the Sammies nominees.