Though the federal government has invested at least $47 million to prepare to respond in the event of a massive and deadly pandemic, auditors say it is ill-equipped to handle such a disaster.
That’s according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, which examined how the agency has been spending the money and resources allocated by Congress in 2006 to plan a pandemic response.
The auditors found that over the last eight years, DHS had been investing in an unnecessarily large mount –16 million—of surgical masks without justifying the quantity, they also found tons of expired hand sanitizer and more than 80 percent of medications they had invested in are already set to expire next year.
The IG concluded that DHS did not “develop and implement stockpile replenishment plans or inventory controls to monitor stockpiles, have adequate contract oversight processes, or ensure compliance with Department guidelines,” the IG said, adding that because of that, “DHS has no assurance that the supplies on hand remain effective.”
The IG also said “DHS and its components do not know where its personal protective equipment is located, how much it has and the usability of the stockpiles that exist.”
Though pandemics are not common in the United States, the report comes amid the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with several cases in the United States.
The auditors made 11 recommendations—including creating an office to oversee the government’s pandemic preparedness. DHS agreed with most of the IG’s recommendations though it disputed the auditors’ claims that it does not have plans in place to effectively respond to an outbreak of a deadly disease.
“DHS is constantly seeking to improve our pandemic preparedness and is committed to protecting our employees in order to ensure the effectiveness of our mission,” DHS said in a statement on Monday.
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