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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the federal government's management of chemical and biological medical supplies, focusing on the: (1) accuracy and currency of the inventory tracking systems for federal medical stockpiles that would be used to treat the civilian population following a chemical or biological terrorist attack; and (2) internal controls in place to manage the stockpiles.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel conduct risk assessments and organize program activities to identify and mitigate risks.
Closed - Implemented
CDC conducted a risk assessment of their National Pharmaceutical Stockpile Program and produced a report.
Office of Emergency Preparedness To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel conduct risk assessments and organize program activities to identify and mitigate risks.
Closed - Implemented
OEP has completed risk assessments that identify and mitigate risks to its stockpiles.
Department of Veterans Affairs To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel conduct risk assessments and organize program activities to identify and mitigate risks.
Closed - Implemented
According to VA, an internal expert panel was chartered to conduct a subsequent risk assessment. The group issued a final report of recommendations that have been reviewed by OEP and VA. All other recommendations that were approved by OEP are completed.
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel arrange for periodic, independent inventories.
Closed - Implemented
Beginning January 2000, CBIRF began to conduct periodic inventories in accordance with governing directives and will submit results of the inventories to the CBIRF commanding officer and senior medical officer. CBIRF's policies now require that a quarterly inventory of the CBIRF stockpile be conducted, and CBIRF has submitted a request to higher headquarters for an independent inventory of its stockpile.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel arrange for periodic, independent inventories.
Closed - Implemented
CDC has developed an inventory requirements list and is using the list as a basis for making inventory purchases to establish the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile. It has also begun performing periodic inventory counts (p.18; GAO-01-463).
Office of Emergency Preparedness To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel arrange for periodic, independent inventories.
Closed - Implemented
OEP, along with VA, have conducted or been a part of inventories of their stockpiles.
Department of Veterans Affairs To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel arrange for periodic, independent inventories.
Closed - Implemented
VA conducted four inventories during calendar year (CY) 2000 with assistance from OEP. OEP required one complete inventory for CY 2001, and CY 2002. OEP provided oversight during these inventories. The CY 2001 inventory was completed in June 2001. The CY 2002 inventory will be completed in October 2002.
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel rotate supplies properly.
Closed - Implemented
The CBRIF developed written policies in accordance with governing Marine Corps and Department of Navy policies to ensure proper rotation of medical supplies in their stockpile. CBIRF's Medical Supply Policy Letter identifies the procedures to be followed to rotate and dispose of CBIRF supplies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel rotate supplies properly.
Closed - Implemented
CDC developed policies and procedures related to rotating stock in their inventories.
Office of Emergency Preparedness To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel rotate supplies properly.
Closed - Implemented
OEP, through its Memorandum of Agreement with VA, requires VA to rotate stockpiles items properly. VA's computerized tracking system will provide reports indicating future expiration dates that will allow for improved planning for ordering, receiving, shipping, and rotating items on a timely basis in the OEP stockpiles (see GAO-01-463, p. 22).
Department of Veterans Affairs To address internal control weaknesses, HHS' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel rotate supplies properly.
Closed - Implemented
VA stated that it uses automated reports of expiration dates to order products needed for each stockpile stock rotation. Stock rotations have resulted in no outdated products during fiscal year 2002.
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel implement a tracking system that retains complete documentation for all supplies that have been ordered, received, and destroyed.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2002, the U.S. Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF)began using MAXIMO (a computerized system) to track its medical supply inventory throughout its lifecycle. MAXIMO allows the CBIRF to know what inventory they have, where it is located, and whether certain supplies are nearing their expiration dates.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel implement a tracking system that retains complete documentation for all supplies that have been ordered, received, and destroyed.
Closed - Implemented
CDC has implemented an Interim Security Plan for electronic tracking of the NPS program inventory.
Office of Emergency Preparedness To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel implement a tracking system that retains complete documentation for all supplies that have been ordered, received, and destroyed.
Closed - Implemented
OEP relies on VA as its inventory manager to have a system that documents that supplies have been ordered, received, and destroyed. According to VA, it uses a computerized record system to track stockpile orders, receipts, inventory, and product destruction.
Department of Veterans Affairs To address internal control weaknesses, the Department of Health and Human Services' OEP, CDC, CBIRF, and VA should establish sufficient systems of internal control over their chemical and biological stockpile management. The agencies need to reasonably assure that personnel implement a tracking system that retains complete documentation for all supplies that have been ordered, received, and destroyed.
Closed - Implemented
According to VA, it now uses a computerized record system to track stockpile orders, receipts, inventory, and product destruction.

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