As a rule there is an infallible way of committing suicide as an agency chief in the executive branch of the US government. Just go testify before Congress that your budget is inadequate, when the budget has been determined not by Congress but by the White House. To do so is to tell Congress that your boss is a moron.
On the other hand, if the boss is a lame duck with a popularity rating far down in the toilet, what do you have to lose?
The first agency head to ventilate in this fashion was FBI head Robert Mueller. Now, FDA director Andrew von Eschenbach has joined in.
Depending on who he was talking to, von Eschenbach put a little smiley face or frowney face on his comments. One version was that the agency simply lacked the funding needed to carry out its mission. Then the gussied-up version was that the agency is OK for now but cannot maintain its edge in the future.
But the basic story is that you heard it right from the top--the FDA cannot assure the public reasonable safety in its food or drug supply because the budget requested by the White House is insufficient. In a climate when Reps and Dems apparently cannot agree on anything, there was bipartisan support in the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for increasing the budget of the FDA.
Harris G. Panel's bipartisan view: F.D.A. is underfinanced. New York Times, April 16, 2008; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/washington/16fda.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=gardiner+harris+panel%27s+bipartisan+view+f.d.a.&st=nyt&oref=slogin