Overlap and Duplication: Federal Inspections of Entities Registered with the Select Agent Program
United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States
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Between 2009 and 2011, there were roughly 374 entities across the United States conducting research with select agents such as anthrax, which have the potential to threaten health and safety. Inspections are one means of ensuring safety and compliance with regulations. However, several federal agenciesCDC, APHIS, DOT, DHS, and DODconduct such inspections, creating significant potential for overlap and duplication of effort. In this context, GAO was asked to assess 1 the extent of overlap and potential duplication in federal inspections of select agent entities, 2 the costs of such overlap and effects on laboratory operations, and 3 actions to reduce the costs and negative effects of any overlap. To answer these objectives, GAO analyzed agency data, surveyed entities, held focus groups with lab staff, and interviewed agency officials. GAO recommends that CDC and APHIS work with DHS and DOD to coordinate inspections and ensure consistent application of inspection standards. HHS, USDA, DHS, and DOD generally agreed with our recommendations and noted various actions they have already taken, or plan to take, to coordinate inspection efforts.
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