Gulf War Illnesses:

Basic Questions Unanswered

T-NSIAD-00-79: Published: Feb 2, 2000. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the expenditures by the Departments of Defense (DOD), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Health and Human Services (HHS) on Gulf War veterans' illnesses, focusing on the : (1) amount of money that these three departments spent in fiscal years 1997 and 1998 on research and investigation into Gulf War veterans' illnesses and health concerns; (2) results of the research and investigation spending; (3) extent of coordination between the Coordinating Board's Research Working Group and DOD's Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses; and (4) management of contracts supporting DOD's Office of the Special Assistant.

GAO noted that: (1) during fiscal years 1997 and 1998, VA, HHS, and DOD spent more than $121 million for research and investigation into Gulf veterans' illnesses; (2) DOD spent $112 million of this total, mostly through its Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses; (3) results of the research and investigation activities are accruing slowly and basic questions about the causes, course of development, and treatments of Gulf War veterans' illnesses remain unanswered; (4) the activities of the Office of the Special Assistant are not effectively coordinated with those of the Research Working Group; and (5) work was improperly awarded to the Office's support contractors for tasks worth more than $20 million.

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