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GAO: HHS’ ASPR Office Should Conduct Targeted Outreach on Personnel Reassignment Processes

The Government Accountability Office has recommended that Department of Health and Human Services instruct HHS’ 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 Monday that ASPR should also 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 government watchdog found 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 can help increase  awareness on expected roles of agencies to mitigate delays during potential public health emergencies.

The office also 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 from two HHS components told GAO they were not aware of the reassignment authority as well as the time frames and processes for reassignment request assessment and approval.

HHS agreed with GAO’s two recommendations and offered information on ASPR’s implementation plan.

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