HHS doesn't have plan for IT pandemic surveillance, GAO says

Department three years late in meeting requirements of 2006 law

The Health and Human Services Department hasn't developed a strategic plan for a national electronic network for public health situational awareness four years after being told to do so by Congress, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The department has made progress on developing related systems — such as those for biosurveillance, health data exchange and public health information sharing — but has not made progress on a comprehensive plan for situational awareness, GAO said in the Dec. 17 report.

HHS hasn't fulfilled Congress’ vision for a comprehensive strategy under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) of 2006, GAO auditors concluded. The department missed the 2007 deadline and has not completed the plan to date, although progress has been made in creating related capabilities such as the BioSense syndromic surveillance program and the Nationwide Health Information Network for sharing health data, GAO said.


Related stories:

Swine flu response elevates health IT

CDC expands flu-tracking efforts


“HHS has not defined a comprehensive strategic plan that identifies goals, objectives, activities, and priorities and that integrates related strategies to achieve the unified electronic nationwide situational awareness capability required by PAHPA,” the GAO report states.

The legislation was intended to meet the need for efficient sharing of near-real-time information during a public health emergency. HHS was supposed to coordinate with state and local agencies to create a strategy and a national network for monitoring public health electronically in near-real time.

The report recommends that HHS:

  • Immediately work to develop and implement a strategic plan to establish an electronic public health situational awareness network that meets the requirements of PAHPA.
  • Identify performance measures for evaluating the capabilities of the systems in that network.
  • Integrate elements of related strategies to achieve a unified public situational awareness capability as defined under that law.

In responding to the report, HHS officials said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendations.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above