MOS Fitness Team – Ashley

On Apr 20th, 2022, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 37-page report titled “HHS Agencies Need to Develop Procedures and Train Staff on Reporting and Addressing Political Interference.”

With a provision from the “CARES Act,” the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 116th U.S. Congress, GAO’s supervisory report was to address the U.S. Congress on its ongoing oversight efforts related to the CCP virus pandemic from October 2020 to April 2022.

GAO’s investigation found that the four U.S. public health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) have been compromised by “suppression or alteration of scientific findings” and “political interference.”

GAO requested data from each selected agency from 2010 to 2021 on internal allegations of political interference. The investigators found the public health agency insufficient to provide data or documentation of allegations during the CCP virus pandemic. In addition, GAO conducted interviews with employees from the selected agencies and set up a confidential hotline consisting of an email account and voicemail inbox with confidential hotline methodologies.

GAO reported that since the onset of the CCP virus pandemic, various allegations of political interference had affected scientific decisions at several HHS offices and agencies. For example, in May 2020, a senior official from ASPR claimed HHS retaliated against him for disclosing, among other things, concerns about inappropriate political interference to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine available to the public as treatments for CCP virus. Additionally, in July 2021, several members of Congress criticized CDC for allegedly revising its face mask guidance for political purposes.

The report concluded that none of the four public health agencies had developed procedures to report and address potential political interference in scientific decision-making. It was revealed by the employees participating in the interview that the underreporting and missing the documentation are due to the fear of retaliation, unsureness of the reporting process, and misinformation.

Edited and posted by; Kayla J.

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