Weaknesses in HHS response to Covid lead to it being described as ‘high risk’

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has received a “high risk” designation from a major government watchdog group for its shortcomings not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but during past crises that have hit the nation. have hit.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is part of the routine reviews and audits of federal agencies. While reports for each agency are generally published on a two-year cycle, in examples such as the HHS, they will issue these types of alerts before the next report date.

The report released last week points to a lack of leadership and lack of preparedness for Covid, the Zika virus outbreak, natural disasters such as hurricanes and other events that fall under the agency’s responsibilities.

Since the report’s publication, HHS secretary Xavier Becerra has been under fire, although White House officials have stood by him — at least publicly.

Jessica Farb (pictured), general manager of health care at GAO, said the HHS's shortcomings go beyond just Covid, but also in response to past crises the US has faced.

Jessica Farb (pictured), general manager of health care at GAO, said the HHS's shortcomings go beyond just Covid, but also in response to past crises the US has faced.

Xavier Becerra (pictured), secretary of the HHS, has come under fire in recent days for 'sitting in the background' during the pandemic.  The White House has defended him.

Xavier Becerra (pictured), secretary of the HHS, has come under fire in recent days for 'sitting in the background' during the pandemic.  The White House has defended him.

Jessica Farb (left), health care director at GAO, said the HHS’s shortcomings extend beyond just Covid, but also in its response to past crises the US has faced. HHS secretary Xavier Becerra (right) has been under fire in recent days since the GAO’s report was released. The White House has defended him.

‘In addition to the pandemic response, we also looked for [the] HHS’s capabilities in leadership and coordination of public health emergencies over a number of years,” Jessica Farb, the general manager of health care at GAO, told DailyMail.com.

She said the agency was forced to release the designation now, despite the fact that the last report on the agency was released in March — meaning the HHS’s next report isn’t scheduled for 13 months.

The designation indicates that the watchdog group believes that HHS is at risk of financial waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or other major failures at times when its response is required.

Five key areas where the agency is currently falling short were highlighted by GAO.

The agency should improve its coordination and communication between groups to ensure that all needs are met in a way that avoids redundancy. It should also adopt better data collection practices and take precautions to ensure that the data collected is accurate.

GAO also wants HHS to communicate better with local health officials in states and provinces, and do more to gather information about the needs of individual municipalities. Finally, the agency is recommended to strengthen its transparency and accountability.

Farb told DailyMail.com that top-level problems at HHS can manifest in things like local-level testing and vaccine shortages for everyday Americans.  Pictured: A woman takes a Covid test in Baltimore, Maryland on Jan. 26

Farb told DailyMail.com that top-level problems at HHS can manifest in things like local-level testing and vaccine shortages for everyday Americans.  Pictured: A woman takes a Covid test in Baltimore, Maryland on Jan. 26

Farb told DailyMail.com that top-level problems at HHS can manifest in things like local-level testing and vaccine shortages for everyday Americans. Pictured: A woman takes a Covid test in Baltimore, Maryland on Jan. 26

“We’ve found some flaws in the way they’re directing those responses and that’s how we got to the point where we were designated at this point,” Farb said.

“They are responsible for directing and coordinating these matters. And it requires a … multidisciplinary approach involving not only multiple federal agencies in HHS, but coordination with non-federal entities such as states and tribes and the private sector.”

In short, the pandemic response has revealed some of these long-standing concerns.” [over whether the] HHS can really fulfill its role.’

While the agency’s shortcomings are at the highest level, its effects can be felt by the average American, especially during Covid.

Failure to properly allocate resources and communicate with agencies such as FEMA can delay emergency response in times of crisis.

It could also cause hospitals and medical facilities across America to face a shortage of resources and staff to deal with potential virus spikes.

Some shortages of supplies to deliver vaccines and Covid tests to the population may also be the result of the HHS’s shortcomings.

The publication of this report has brought Becerra under fire, with some accusing him of “sitting back” during one of the biggest public health problems of the past century.

The Washington Post even reported that some officials are already discussing possible replacements for him if he is pushed out of the role.

Despite this recent investigation, the White House has assisted Becerra in recent days.

“I just want to reiterate that the president remains confident in the role of Secretary Becerra, he is someone who is an important partner, he has led a series of efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services,” White House press secretary Jen said Psaki at a briefing earlier this week.

“We’re less focused – not focused at all I must say – on palace intrigue, but on vaccinating Americans, fighting the microwave wave, expanding testing capacity and getting more therapies to the American people. And that’s how we think we, and the cabinet leaders, will be judged.”

Source: | This article is originally from Dailymail.co.uk

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