DHS “did not effectively implement corrective actions” to address shortcomings in its preparedness for a pandemic that had been identified years ago, the department’s inspector general has said.
“As a result, early in the pandemic, as COVID-19 spread throughout the world, DHS did not have sufficient department-wide oversight of PPE [personal protective equipment] or pandemic planning,” a report said.
The IG cited reports it issued in 2014 and 2016 making a total of 28 recommendations regarding planning for a potential pandemic. In a review of compliance with 11 of those, it found that in three cases “the corrective actions were ineffective and did not provide sustainable improvements to DHS’ pandemic planning and response activities.”
Those involved recommendations that DHS strengthen management of personal protective equipment, ensure that its components comply with an overall logistics support plan, and more tightly manage overall and individual component contingency plans.
For example, it said regarding the first of those DHS designated an office responsible for the management and accountability of pandemic PPE, but “the extent of their office’s oversight of the PPE inventory was quarterly report reviews, which were spreadsheets providing only the amounts of PPE the components maintained. The reports contained no details such as PPE expiration dates, which are needed to ensure that older inventory is not held past the time it is still considered safe and effective for use.”
It noted that when the need for such equipment surged early this year, CBP’s inventory of N95 masks included 1.5 million that had expired and TSA’s included more than 100,000.
The report said that management agreed with the repeated recommendations in those areas but that those recommendations are still considered to be open.