The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has faced concerns related to the quality of some of the public health products it publishes. ATSDR investigates community exposures related to certain hazardous chemical sites and releases; assesses associated health effects; and recommends actions to stop, prevent, or minimize harmful effects. ATSDR publishes many types of products, including public health assessments, health consultations, exposure investigations, and health study reports. GAO was asked to examine the extent to which ATSDR's policies and procedures for product preparation, including work initiation, product development, and review and clearance, provide reasonable assurance of product quality. GAO reviewed ATSDR policies and procedures and interviewed agency officials and employees.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry||1. To strengthen the ATSDR's policies and procedures, and ensure that they provide reasonable assurance of public health product quality, the director of ATSDR should develop policies and procedures to ensure that a risk assessment is conducted at the time site-specific work is initiated, and that any assigned risk level be reevaluated throughout product preparation to ensure that it remains appropriate.|
|Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry||2. To strengthen ATSDR's policies and procedures, and ensure that they provide reasonable assurance of public health product quality, the director of ATSDR should revise existing policies and procedures, or develop new guidance, to provide documented direction for various levels of management on their roles and responsibilities in the monitoring of all products prior to review and clearance, such as requirements for management monitoring and approval of key components of these products.|