Government Executive: Watchdog: HHS Should Update Congress on COVID-19 Spending Time Frames

“To bolster oversight, the Health and Human Services Department should provide Congress with expected time frames for spending the remainder of its coronavirus relief funds, a watchdog recommended on Monday.”

“The Government Accountability Office published its seventh extensive report on how the various federal agencies can improve their pandemic response and preparedness for future outbreaks. Congress appropriated about $484 billion between six relief laws for the Health and Human Services Department, which is central to the COVID-19 response and includes the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first five laws (HHS received $324 billion in total) about $253 billion was obligated (about 78%) and about $168 billion was expended (about 52%), as of May 31. For the most recent law, the American Rescue Plan, HHS received $160 billion and about $75 billion was obligated (about 47%) and $3 billion was expended (about 2%).”

“GAO found “HHS uses ‘spend plans’ to communicate information about its COVID-19 spending.” The first five relief laws “generally” mandated that HHS “develop, update, and provide these spend plans to Congress every 60 days,” but the sixth one does not, said the report. HHS officials told GAO “the department is preparing a consolidated plan that captures the first five relief laws and a separate spend plan for funding provided through [the American Rescue Plan].” The consolidated plan is under internal review and the separate one for the more recent law is still getting finalized.”

“GAO received 15 of HHS’s spending plans (which includes the original plans and updates); however, ‘the most current spend plans generally do not include time frames for obligating the remaining relief funds, which is useful information for oversight and for informing Congress’s future funding decisions…'” Read the full article here.

Source: Watchdog: HHS Should Update Congress on COVID-19 Spending Time Frames – By Courtney Bublé, July 19, 2021. Government Executive.

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