The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report on the agency’s key findings and recommendations with an eye toward helping federal agencies be better prepared for future emergencies. GAO has regularly reported on the accountability and effectiveness of the federal government’s $4.7 trillion pandemic response since 2020.

“GAO has played a critical role in providing oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “While Congress and the Administration have made progress addressing many of GAO’s recommendations, it’s essential that they continue to do so to help better prepare for, respond to, and recover from future emergencies.”

Standalone reports

This report includes several key data updates and five enclosures that summarize and highlight standalone reports issued from April 2022 through April 2023 on the following topics:

  • public health preparedness
  • improper payments and fraud
  • vulnerable populations
  • distribution of federal COVID-19 funding
  • COVID-19 and the economy

Examples of recommendations not yet implemented but vital to preparing for the nation’s next emergency include:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should continue progress toward establishing the public health situational awareness and biosurveillance network, which federal law over 16 years ago required HHS to establish. Such a network could be used to provide vital information to manage a timely response in a future emergency.
  • The Department of Labor should develop and implement an antifraud strategy for Unemployment Insurance programs that is consistent with leading practices from GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework. GAO has previously reported evidence of widespread fraud in the unemployment insurance program.

The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report regularly on the effects of the pandemic and the federal response. In this body of work, GAO has made 386 recommendations to 26 federal agencies and raised 19 matters for congressional consideration. As of April 30, 2023, Congress and the agencies have fully or partially addressed 45 percent of these recommendations.

Read more at the US Government Accountability Office.