Army Biomedical Research:

Concerns About Performance of Brain-Wound Research

HRD-91-30: Published: Dec 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed an Army Medical Research and Development Command contract with a university for brain-wound research.

GAO found that: (1) its panel of medical experts and veterinary anesthesiologists concluded that the research goals were valid, and that such research was important in improving the outcome of combat-incurred brain injury; (2) veterinary anesthesiologists questioned the management of the general anesthesia, the management of post-operative care, and the research report's exclusion of data on large numbers of research animals; (3) several anesthesiologists questioned the reliability of blood-gas measurements and the number of animals used that did not result in usable data; (4) the research did not violate a public law limiting the use of cats and dogs in Department of Defense (DOD) research projects; and (5) the Army inadequately managed the research contracts, did not follow its operating procedures for monitoring the performance of the research, and did not provide appropriate technical assistance.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD decided that benefits were limited and initiated action to cancel the contract.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should decide if the project's benefits have already been substantially achieved, and if so, the Secretary should not continue the project.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD reviewed the project and decided to cancel the project. The contract is being canceled.

    Recommendation: If the Secretary of Defense finds that the benefits have not been substantially achieved, the Secretary should review the concerns GAO raised to determine if continuing the contract will produce additional useful information. If, after this review, the Secretary finds it desirable to continue the project, the Secretary should ensure that the identified concerns have been resolved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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