According to the inspector general’s audit, 81% of the more than 296,000 doses of the influenza medications Tamiflu and Relenza stockpiled for the department’s workforce are set to expire in 2015, and its entire stockpile of respirators already reached or will soon reach their expiration dates. As many as 200,000 respirators on hand for the Transportation Security Administration are beyond the manufacturer’s date for guaranteed usability, the audit found.
Congress appropriated $47 million in 2006 to help the DHS stock up on emergency supplies and training of personnel to ensure operations would be able to continue in event of a pandemic.
“DHS did not adequately conduct a needs assessment prior to purchasing pandemic preparedness supplies and then did not effectively manage its stockpile of pandemic personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures,” according to the report.
DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said that while the agency concurred with 11 recommendations the OIG included in the review, DHS has already taken steps to improve the management of its emergency supply. “In an ever-evolving risk environment, we continually assess the potential for exposure and impacts to our workforce and ensure that appropriate actions are taken in response to adapt to this risk,” Lee said in an e-mail.
Other issues cited in the report included the agency’s inability to demonstrate a need for an inventory of 16 million surgical masks. Also, as much as 84% of DHS’ stockpile of hand sanitizer was found to be expired, some for as long as four years.
Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson