The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lost or misplaced more than $8 million in property in 2007, losing track of items including computer and video equipment, government auditors say. Agency officials said Wednesday they have corrected the lapses that led to that amount of waste.
The report was released this week by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of the CDC. In 2007, the auditors checked on 200 randomly sampled items and found 15 were lost or not inventoried, including a $1.8 million hard disk drive and a $978,000 video conferencing system.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden wrote the inspector general that the CDC agrees with the report's conclusions and has now instituted better controls. He wrote that 99 percent of the agency's property was accounted for in 2009. And the agency says all of its property this year is accounted for.
The agency still hasn't explained what happened to the 15 pieces of missing equipment from 2007, auditors said. But a CDC spokeswoman on Wednesday said all but four of the items — including the two most expensive ones — have since been accounted for.
CDC officials were tsk-tsked by Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
"It's just a good thing they haven't lost any diseases," Schatz said.
The Atlanta-based CDC often gets high marks for how well it does at its core mission of promoting health and investigating outbreaks of illness. But it has less incentive to keep track of its computer equipment or take care of other concerns that would seem important to a private business, Schatz said.
The CDC is the only HHS agency to have had such an audit, its second audit. A 1995 audit found the agency was unable to account for more than $5.5 million in property, including computers, microscopes and even vehicles.