Latest OIG Report Highlights Mismanagement of Medical Resources in “Pandemic Preparation”
Severe disease pandemic can disrupt the security and stability of the United States, and it is essential to be prepared for such an event. Many quarantine and disease preparedness programs have been reviewed lately in light of the Ebola outbreak in Africa. On August 26, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report, “DHS Has Not Effectively Managed Pandemic Personal Protective Equipment and Antiviral Medical Countermeasures” in which it delivered 11 recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fix its management of supplies intended for pandemic preparation and training.
Since acquiring $47 million in funds from Congress in 2006 through the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, the DHS has procured a stockpile of supplies for “pandemic preparedness” to include personal protective equipment (PPE) and antiviral and antibiotic countermeasures (MCM). The OIG found that the supplies were not under adequate inventory control to ensure either their accountability or their effectiveness (due to expiration).
Despite oversight from the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), the DHS did not “identify the type and quantity needed” of either PPE or MCM, which suggests wasteful spending if future supplies of the correct type and quantity of PPE and/or MCM are needed. The OIG report cites a specific example from the National Capital Region inventory: “The DHS National Capital Region (NCR) pandemic stockpile contains about 350,000 white coverall suits. No justification or related documentation was available to support that this quantity and type of PPE was necessary for pandemic response.”
Similar inventories were recorded for supplies such as excess surgical masks and respirators, and thousands of bottles of antibacterial hand sanitizer that are at least four years past their expiration dates. Even more alarming may be the reported inventory mismatch for courses of MCM delivered to DHS stockpiles. At least 6,000 courses of MCM are unaccounted for in documentation.
In order to maintain the program, the DHS will respond to each of the 11 recommendations and provide justification for the supply inventory. The recommendations suggest work that should have been done in 2006, and show DHS’s weakness in stockpile management, which will now have to be done retroactively.
For further reading on the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, PPE, and stockpile management, see the HSDL’s search results for:
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