The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services come up and implement workforce strategies to address identified staffing needs as it assumes all responsibilities over COVID-19 vaccine-related work previously led by the Department of Defense as part of a partnership.
In May 2020, HHS and DOD partnered through the COVID-19 Countermeasures Acceleration Group, formerly Operation Warp Speed, to speed up vaccine development, production and distribution, according to a GAO report published Wednesday.
In accordance with the April 2021 memorandum of understanding between HHS and the Pentagon, the CAG dissolved and transferred DOD-led vaccine work and other activities to HHS, which assumed vaccine responsibilities at the start of 2022.
GAO reviewed the transition documentation and found that HHS did not develop a workforce strategy for four of the seven lines of effort.
For instance, the CAG’s transition document for the Security and Assurance line of effort showed that HHS did not have the needed personnel to continue the group’s responsibilities and highlighted a need for additional contractors to maintain capabilities for this specific line of effort, which includes coordinating initiatives to protect vaccine development, production and distribution work and offer industrial security to supply chains of vaccine companies.
The congressional watchdog also recommended that HHS develop a schedule that is in line with the best practices outlined in the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide to manage vaccine-related responsibilities and expand the lessons-learned review to integrate insight from key stakeholders.