Incompetence is Not Criminal

There is no disputing the fact that the Office of Disease Prevention botched the public comment process on the P2P report. But according to the Office of the Inspector General, it’s not worth their attention.

In April, I asked the OIG to investigate and take steps to remedy the mismanagement of the public comment process by ODP. There is significant evidence to suggest that the P2P Panel has still not seen all the public comments, and they are due to issue their final report on June 16th.

On May 12th (oh! the irony!), I received an email from OIG stating in part: “no action will be taken in this matter, as the issues outlined constitute management issues that do not warrant investigation for potential violation of criminal statutes within OIG’s jurisdiction.”

This is disingenuous, at best. The OIG does not just conduct criminal investigations, it is “dedicated to combating fraud, waste and abuse and to improving the efficiency of HHS programs.” The OIG is also responsible “for promoting effective management and quality of the agency’s processes and products.” This is not my first rodeo, folks. I would never have bothered with the OIG if their mission was exclusively limited to criminal investigations.

While OIG refused to take any action in this matter, they did suggest I contact NIH’s Office of Management Assessment. The OMA “provides NIH-wide management, oversight and advice to safeguard agency assets, preserve public trust, and provide administrative infrastructure for NIH Institutes and Centers.”

On May 13th, I wrote to the Director of OMA requesting her immediate assistance to investigate and intervene to remedy the public comment violations. I emphasized that time is of the essence, as the P2P report is due to be published in one month. Given the current facts of the situation, this report will be tainted by the compromised public comment process. As a person who will be directly affected by the report and any subsequent action by NIH, I asked that OMA investigate and intervene to ensure that the report is not published until the panel has received and given due consideration to every single comment submitted by the public.

Meanwhile, my FOIA appeal is still pending and no one at NIH (including ODP) has contacted me regarding this mess. And the clock is ticking, friends. The P2P report will be published in one month and I see little reason to trust that the Panel has seen and given equal consideration to all of our comments.

The clock is ticking.

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10 Responses to Incompetence is Not Criminal

  1. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for keeping on top of this Jennie. Much appreciated.

  2. Sasha says:

    Thank you for your hard work, Jennie.

    What a mess.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As Cheryl and Sasha have said, thanks for following through on this and thanks also for keeping us up to date.

  4. Jane says:

    Jennie, thank you so much for your work in keeping the powers that be in check on the P2P process! Looking forward to their response and seeing the overall outcome.

  5. Jim Ellsworth says:

    Well, there has been one positive outcome of this P2P comment fiasco, at least for me personally. While reading through the comments I obtained via FOIA, I came across a reference to Craig Maupin’s website

    It is a wealth of very interesting information on the political history of this illness. Especially the letter from Straus to Fukuda that states, in very clear language, Straus’ intent to redefine the illness out of existence.

  6. nancy says:

    We need to clone you about ten times. The amount of work you do on this is herculean. I applaud you.

  7. Asa says:

    As others have said, Jennie: Thank you!

    My knowledge of the bureaucracy is pretty limited, but would it be helpful at all if these abuses–this history–were reported to the Government Accountability Office?

    Report/contact info and Mission Statement:

    • Jennie Spotila says:

      GAO did investigate many years ago, at the request of Congress. Asking for a new GAO investigation of the full situation, not just these separate incidents, is something that has been discussed. I honestly don’t know if such a request can come from an individual or if it needs to come through an official channel.

      • Asa says:

        Okay – thank you. For what it’s worth, I actually called GAO earlier today, and the person I spoke with, at least, said that anyone could report a problem/file a complaint.

        If advocates do pursue a GAO path, please (someone/anyone) just say what help is needed. 🙂

        • Jennie Spotila says:

          Especially because filing a complaint on the total problem will be a tremendous undertaking!

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