Clyburn Leads Bipartisan Call for GAO Review of Administration’s Coronavirus Vaccine Development Efforts
Washington, D.C. (July 24, 2020) — Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Rep. Bill Foster, and Rep. Mark E. Green, M.D., sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct ongoing oversight of Operation Warp Speed and other vaccine-development initiatives funded by the CARES Act and other laws passed by Congress.
“A safe, effective, and widely available vaccine or therapeutic has the potential to save lives and allow Americans to return safely to their jobs and schools,” the Members wrote. “We believe that GAO’s involvement could provide real-time actionable items to facilitate Congress’ assistance in these projects, and allow us to provide rigorous and objective oversight of Operation Warp Speed and other vaccine and therapeutic development initiatives.”
Established in May 2020, Operation Warp Speed is a partnership with multiple executive branch agencies and private corporations that aims to develop, manufacture, and distribute 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for the coronavirus by January 2021, as well as to develop therapeutics and other countermeasures to address the virus.
The letter continued: “It is our genuine, bipartisan belief that Congress and GAO’s participation is critical to ensure this endeavor succeeds. These efforts should include real-time oversight by GAO’s experienced project management experts and periodic assessment reports to both the Department and Congress in a joint fashion. Oversight by GAO would also add transparency to the development of coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics, increasing public confidence in products developed through this process.”
At a recent Select Subcommittee hearing, Comptroller General Dodaro testified that GAO has the capacity to conduct real-time oversight of vaccine and therapeutic development using both “in-house capabilities” and “standing arrangements to get additional expertise.”
“We request that GAO conduct a comprehensive, ongoing review of Operation Warp Speed and the vaccine and therapeutic development initiatives that are being coordinated through it,” the Members wrote. “This real-time oversight should be intended to inform the process as it happens and create an elite delivery of service to the American people.”
The letter requests monthly bipartisan staff briefings and written reports every three months until Operation Warp Speed is disbanded. Among other issues, the letter calls on GAO to examine the criteria used to select vaccine and treatment candidates, efforts to coordinate between various federal vaccine initiatives, and Operation Warp Speed’s adherence to federal conflict of interest rules and whistleblower protections.
Click here to read today’s letter to Comptroller General Dodaro.