Biological Warfare:

Better Controls in DOD's Research Could Prevent Unneeded Expenditures

NSIAD-91-68: Published: Dec 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Jan 28, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the medical component of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Biological Defense Research Program, operated by the Army's Medical Research and Development Command.

GAO found that: (1) the Army's lack of adequate internal controls resulted in its allocation of at least $47 million for 49 research projects that did not address validated biological warfare threat agents; (2) there was no requirement for the Army to search other federal research databases to prevent duplication of research efforts; (3) nearly one-third of the medical products that the Army developed for U.S. military forces did not address validated biological warfare threat agents; (4) between 1965 and 1990, the Army invested about $45 million in developing and producing 16 medical products, and spent over $19 million on 5 medical products that did not address validated threats; and (5) the Army continues to develop medical products that do not address validated threats.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although DOD did not concur with the recommendation, action was taken to discontinue research on those projects which were determined not to address validated warfare threat agents. An accomplishment report will be prepared if GAO planned follow-up review discloses substantial savings.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Medical Research and Development Command to review all ongoing medical research projects to determine whether they address validated warfare threat agents and discontinue all projects that do not.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The issue will be reconsidered during a forthcoming review of DOD medical programs, code 393531.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Medical Research and Development Command to arrange for independent reviews of all proposed research projects by officials from the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center and the Academy of Health Sciences to ensure that all future projects address validated warfare agents, and report the results of each review to the Army Surgeon General.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The issue will be reconsidered during a forthcoming review of DOD medical programs, code 393531.

    Recommendation: The Army should amend its regulations to require the systematic coordination of its medical biological research projects with those of other federal research databases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although DOD did not concur with the recommendation, action was taken to discontinue the development of those products that do not address validated warfare threat agents.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Medical Research and Development Command to discontinue development of all products that do not address validated threats.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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