GAO: More Must be Done to Counter Pandemic Flu

Four members of the U.S. Congress released a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Sept. 10 that urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop testing, training and exercises for pandemic flu.

The report also states that more action is needed to define the federal government's role, promote interagency cooperation and develop a national strategy to deal with pandemic influenza. The bipartisan group of lawmakers called on the Bush administration to address the problems identified in the report.

The congressional members are Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).

"It's alarming to learn that this far into the process, key federal leadership roles in a pandemic have not been adequately defined, much less tested through rigorous exercises and drills," said Waxman, who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "It is vital to resolve questions of turf, responsibility and performance in advance, rather than in the heat of, an actual pandemic."

"As this GAO report indicates, the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza falls short of being an effective strategy," said Rep. Thompson, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. "Before the pandemic hits, we still have the chance to clarify the strategy, and better identify the goals and objectives for everyone (not just the federal government). This will make the difference between some parts of the government being prepared, and the entire nation being ready."

The GAO report, "Influenza Pandemic: Further Efforts Are Needed to Ensure Clearer Federal Leadership Roles and An Effective National Strategy," noted that while the executive branch has taken an active approach to pandemic preparedness, there needs to be improved coordination between HHS and DHS regarding leadership roles and responsibilities during a pandemic crisis.

The complete GAO report is available online at

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

Download Center

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Streamline Your Air Emissions Management

    See how consolidating all your emissions management functions into one centralized system can help you streamline your operations, more easily maintain compliance, and achieve greater time and cost savings.

  • A Crash Course in Creating the Right Environmental Scoring System

    Learn how to develop the right environmental scoring system so you can easily benchmark performance across all your facilities and gain a holistic view of your environmental programs.

  • Industry Safe