GAO COVID-19 Recommendations: Progress Falls Short of Expectations

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a new report detailing their comprehensive review of the progress made by federal agencies to “respond to and recover from the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.”  Their report, COVID-19: Critical Vaccine Distribution, Supply Chain, Program Integrity, and Other Challenges Require Focused Federal Attention, finds that out of 31 recommendations made by the GAO in 2020, only 4 were implemented, leaving disappointing gaps especially in the following areas: cross-agency communication, COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution, medical supply chains, data gathering, drug manufacturing testing, and program funding integrity. To further close these gaps, the GAO has several new recommendations for federal agencies, stating:

With the issuance of this report, we have now made 44 recommendations to federal agencies and four matters for congressional consideration to improve the federal response to COVID-19. These recommendations are tailored to specific federal programs and initiatives, and, if implemented, will strengthen the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of these federal efforts. In addition to swiftly addressing the open recommendations, we urge the new Congress and administration to consider the principles of an effective federal response that we have previously outlined—clearly defining roles and responsibilities, providing clear and consistent communication, establishing early on accountability and transparency mechanisms, and collecting and analyzing data to drive decisions. Incorporating these principles into ongoing or new COVID-19-related programs and policies will improve the effectiveness of the federal government’s response.

For more information on topics related to this piece, review articles in the Special Collections for GAO Reports & Testimony and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), or visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Pandemics and Epidemics.

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