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Highlights

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Military Health Services System's (MHSS) Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project (PDP), focusing on the: (1) need for prescribing psychologists in the MHSS; (2) implementation of the PDP; and (3) PDP's costs and benefits.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
In the future, should prescribing psychologists be needed to meet DOD's medical readiness requirements, the Congress should require DOD to: (1) clearly demonstrate that the use of those MHSS psychologists who have been trained to prescribe has resulted in savings; (2) clearly define a prescribing psychologist's role and scope of practice in the MHSS compared with other psychologists and psychiatrists; (3) design a curriculum appropriate to this role and scope of practice; and (4) determine the need for and the level of supervision that prescribing psychologists require.
Closed - Implemented
Before action on this recommendation could have been initiated, a determination would have to be made that DOD needed prescribing psychologists to meet its medical readiness requirement. Also, the Congress would have to authorize or mandate DOD to reinstate the Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project (PDP). The reauthorization would have had directed DOD to follow the requirements stated in GAO's recommendation. However, to date, neither the Congress nor DOD has determined that prescribing psychologists are needed to meet DOD's medical readiness requirement. Further, a meeting with the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, disclosed that this report was used by the Committee as a basis for the decision not to reauthorize PDP. The Subcommittee's senior staff member indicated that there is no interest on the part of the Committee to reauthorize this program in the future.

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