May 15, 2023

Problems persist with HHS emergency-preparedness goals

Editor's Note

According to a May 14 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is continuing with the persistent, systemic problems that impaired its ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other public health crises, such as H1N1 influenza, Zika, Ebola, and extreme weather events.

As of April 2023, 91 of 155 GAO recommendations made to HHS since 2007 are still outstanding. For example, HHS has not:

  • developed clear roles and responsibilities and how to exercise them
  • developed a network of systems to assist in real-time public health situational awareness
  • provided clear, consistent communication about disease outbreaks and testing
  • been transparent when disseminating emergency information
  • undertaken workforce planning to meet its mission and goals.

Sustained leadership and attention from the executive branch and Congress are needed to ensure the issues GAO identifies are addressed so the US is prepared for future emergencies, the report says.


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