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GAO’s New COVID-19 Report Highlights Recommendations Critical to Preparing for Future Public Health Emergencies

WASHINGTON, DC (July 11, 2023) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a new report on the agency’s key findings and recommendations with an eye toward helping federal agencies be better prepared for future emergencies. GAO has regularly reported on the accountability and effectiveness of the federal government’s $4.7 trillion pandemic response since 2020.

“GAO has played a critical role in providing oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “While Congress and the Administration have made progress addressing many of GAO’s recommendations, it’s essential that they continue to do so to help better prepare for, respond to, and recover from future emergencies.”

This report includes several key data updates and five enclosures that summarize and highlight standalone reports issued from April 2022 through April 2023 on the following topics:

  • public health preparedness
  • improper payments and fraud
  • vulnerable populations
  • distribution of federal COVID-19 funding
  • COVID-19 and the economy

Examples of recommendations not yet implemented but vital to preparing for the nation’s next emergency include:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should continue progress toward establishing the public health situational awareness and biosurveillance network, which federal law over 16 years ago required HHS to establish. Such a network could be used to provide vital information to manage a timely response in a future emergency.
  • The Department of Labor should develop and implement an antifraud strategy for Unemployment Insurance programs that is consistent with leading practices from GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework. GAO has previously reported evidence of widespread fraud in the unemployment insurance program.

The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report regularly on the effects of the pandemic and the federal response. In this body of work, GAO has made 386 recommendations to 26 federal agencies and raised 19 matters for congressional consideration. As of April 30, 2023, Congress and the agencies have fully or partially addressed 45 percent of these recommendations.

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of GAO Public Affairs at or 202-512-4800.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.


Next Release:

GAO Statement on Protest of Systems Plus, Inc., B-419956 et al.


The following statement from Kenneth E. Patton, Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law at GAO, was revised on July 12, 2023 to correct an error in the number of protests sustained, regarding GAO’s decision in Systems Plus, Inc., et al., B‑419956.184 et al., June 29, 2023.