Key Insights from GAO’s Oversight of the Federal Public Health Response

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The GAO (Government Accountability Office) released Testimony Before the Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives.  This document contains the statement of A. Nicole Clowers, Managing Director, Health Care Team – beginning on page 3 of this 17-page document.  Additional materials about this testimony/GAO report can be found here

“As of February 17, 2021, the U.S. had about 27 million cumulative reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 486,000 reported deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country also continues to experience serious economic repercussions.

Five relief laws, including the CARES Act, have appropriated $3.1 trillion to address the public health and economic threats posed by COVID-19. The CARES Act also includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to COVID-19.

This testimony summarizes GAO’s insights from its oversight of the federal government’s pandemic response in a series of comprehensive reports issued from June 2020 through January 2021. In particular, the statement focuses on the public health response, including testing, vaccines and therapeutics, medical supply chain, health disparities, and health data.

GAO reviewed data, documents, and guidance from federal agencies about their activities and interviewed federal and state officials and stakeholders for the series of reports on which this testimony is based. See https://www.gao.gov/coronavirus/.

GAO has made 44 recommendations for agencies and four matters for congressional consideration in its comprehensive series of bimonthly reports on the federal response to COVID-19 over the last year. Of these 44 recommendations, 16 relate to the following public health topics:

Although the responsible agencies generally agreed with the majority of the 16 recommendations, only one has been fully implemented. GAO maintains that implementing these recommendations will improve the federal government’s public health response and ability to recover as a nation. (Bolding added by me.)

GAO will issue its next report in this series in March 2021.”