The Government Accountability Office has recommended thatÂ Department of Health and Human ServicesÂ instruct HHS’Â Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to conduct outreach programs to inform agencies and offices regarding ASPR expectations and processes.
GAO said in a report published MondayÂ that ASPRÂ should alsoÂ develop a plan to evaluate action reports and assess the effects of authorities on emergency response and medical surge.
ASPR oversees medical and public health preparedness and response as well as the reassignment of personnel during public health emergencies.
The governmentÂ watchdog foundÂ that ASPR’s efforts to communicate its processes to HHS agencies and offices have been limited and noted that outreach programs on reassignment requests, review processes and time frames canÂ help increaseÂ awareness on expected roles of agencies to mitigate delays during potential public health emergencies.
The office alsoÂ developed processes for approval and review of states’ and tribes’ requests for personnel reassignment which would transfer officials from HHS agencies and offices to states that send reassignment requests, GAO added.
Program officials fromÂ two HHS componentsÂ told GAO they were not awareÂ of the reassignment authority as well as the time frames and processes for reassignment request assessment and approval.
HHS agreed with GAO’sÂ two recommendations and offered information on ASPR’s implementation plan.