OIG Set to Audit the HHS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Efforts

The HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) provided a tactical plan for keeping track of the Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 response and recovery work.

OIG is going to assess HHS’ performance of its mandate to ensure the Americans stay healthy and safe, find out if the HHS systems and data are sufficiently protected, check the efficiency of the HHS response, and review the $251 billion funds released to HHS for the COVID-19 response.

OIG is tasked to monitor HHS activities to improve the economy, functionality, effectiveness, and dependability of HHS programs. OIG said that HHS had a big challenge in delivering medical care and human services to Americans because of the COVID-19. Through audits, risk checking, and data analysis, OIG will evaluate the HHS performance of its COVID-19 response and rescue operation.

The HHS has a responsibility to secure the health and wellbeing of the U.S. population in times of a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 crisis and look after beneficiaries that receive services through the HHS programs. OIG will help the HHS in its current COVID-19 response work and in fighting fraud and scams that put the public and HHS beneficiaries at risk.

OIG will look into cases of fraud and partner with law enforcement to protect the public and beneficiaries of HHS. OIG will likewise examine the results of HHS programs and validate how good the needs of the community and beneficiaries were satisfied. Audits and assessments by OIG will include the following:

  • purchases, supervision, and distribution of resources from the Strategic National Stockpile
  • manufacturing, authorization, and supply of COVID-19 tests
  • research work on COVID-19 vaccine and treatments
  • medical care and human services of the HHS

The supervision and enforcement activities of OIG include protecting HHS funds from suspicious activities, squandering and misuse as well as assuring transparent and conscientious spending of HHS. The released $251 billion funding by HHS in May 2020 for the COVID-19 response and recovery work will be reviewed by OIG whether if was managed according to program specifications and reporting requirements. It will look at reports of fraud and abuse that diverted COVID-19 funding from its intended purposes.

Cyberattacks on the HHS and medical organizations increased considerably during the COVID-19 crisis. Nation-states try to obtain sensitive data and intellectual property relevant to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. OIG stated that cybercriminals can target systems used for the COVID-19 response to get sensitive data. It is hence crucial to sufficiently protect the IT infrastructure of HHS, and proactively determine and deal with vulnerabilities.

OIG will also evaluate the ability of the HHS to identify and deal with IT vulnerabilities. It will confirm cybersecurity risks and attacks on the HHS systems. OIG will assist the HHS in creating a secure and robust infrastructure.

Good practices learned {across|during} the COVID-19 pandemic will be used to enhance future HHS programs and get better at preparing for future public health emergencies.