GAO: Agencies better prepared for an influenza pandemic

August 8, 2012

Washington – Federal agencies have made progress in developing plans to protect employees during an influenza pandemic, according to a new report (.pdf file) from the Government Accountability Office.

The report, released July 25, updates a 2009 GAO report that found some agencies were not even close to having plans and no mechanism was in place to monitor their progress.

In 2012, GAO’s survey of the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act showed the following:

  • 23 agencies completed influenza pandemic plans to protect employees, compared with 20 in 2009.
  • All 24 agencies established policies such as telework and avoiding unnecessary travel to reduce the risk of exposure, compared with 22 and 18 agencies, respectively, in 2009.
  • All 24 agencies have plans to distribute hygiene supplies to employees working onsite during a pandemic, compared with 18 in 2009.

However, GAO said work remains to be done in the area of classifying essential onsite jobs by exposure risk levels.

GAO recommended that the Department of Homeland Security provide additional oversight of pandemic preparedness and direct FEMA to include such planning in its biennial assessment of agencies’ continuity capabilities.