Letter From Burton to the CDC (diversion of funds)

      To The Honorable June Gibbs Brown Inspector General Department of
Health and Human Services 330 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Ms. Brown:

       I write regarding the recent revelation that the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention ("CDC") once again diverted funds from a program on
which the CDC told Congress it was spending a specific amount.  I am
referring to the hantavirus program, on which the CDC reported it spent $7.5
million annually. Your office published a May 10, 1999, audit report on
costs charged to the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ("CFS") project, finding that,
"the CDC spent significant portions of CFS funds on the costs of other
programs and activities unrelated to CFS and failed to adequately document
the relevance of other costs charged to the CFS program." The hantavirus and
CFS cases are strikingly similar and suggest a pattern of abuse at the CDC.
The House Committee on Government Reform, under Rule X of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, has general oversight responsibility for the
economy and efficiency of all federal programs and activities. As such, the
diversion of funds and lack of proper accounting at the CDC concern me.

       The CDC budget is over $ 2.9 billion, yet it appears that there is no
oversight of its accounting procedures. Two recent Washington Post articles
on February 2 and 3, 2000, recount problems at the CDC such as late budgets,
fund swapping between programs, and an inability to track spending on
programs. The audit report issued by your office on May 10, 1999, while
addressing the handling of direct and indirect costs at the CDC, did not
address the possibility of a more widespread problem. The head of one CDC
program stated that the agency budget "is almost unfathomable," and that
*'no one can tell us what our balance is day to day." The Washington Post
article indicates that your auditors were aware of these overall problems at
the time your office conducted the review of the CFS program, yet Congress
was never notified, and apparently nothing was done to correct the

       The Committee wants to ensure that the funds appropriated to the CDC
are allocated and spent in an efficient manner and in accordance with the
expectations of Congress. As you indicated in your report on the CSF
program, government regulations require the CDC to maintain financial
management systems and the related internal and management controls that:

     . . . provide complete, reliable, consistent, timely and useful
financial management information on Federal Government operations to enable
central management agencies, individual operating agencies, divisions,
bureaus and other subunits to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities;
deter fraud, waste, and abuse of Federal Government resources; and
facilitate efficient and effective delivery of programs.

       The recent media reports indicate that these requirements are not
being met. The facts of the case indicate that either the CDC is not
straightforward when its comes to Congress with its specific programmatic
needs, or its accounting and budget processes are not adequate. Either
option is unacceptable.

       I have reviewed both your most recent Semiannual report to Congress
and the OIG report on the top management problems and have found that the
CDC is not mentioned. CDC has a very large budget and an important
responsibility to the citizens of our nation. We cannot tolerate any
inefficiency or possible abuse at an agency that is so important to our
nation's health. I am requesting that the OIG review the accounting and
budgeting practices at the CDC.

       We are considering whether to hold hearings on this issue and would
appreciate your cooperation and assistance.

Dan Burton
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Committee on Government Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6143
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Congressman Burton Seeks Information From Families

      [Thanks to Christina G.]

      With the growing awareness and increased incidence of autism spectrum
disorders, the need for research into potential causes becomes increasingly
important. Last year a bill was introduced to Congress which would have
provided funding for autism research. The bill was defeated. The bill was
sponsored by Indiana's congressman Dan Burton who has a grandson with
autism. Congressman Burton is collecting information about the onset of
autism and vaccinations. This is not a warning to stop vaccinating your
children. The issue is how to vaccinate safely. To date, research about the
relationship between autism and vaccination is inconclusive. Conclusive
research will require additional funding. If you have a personal story that
you would like to share concerning the onset of autism and your child's
vaccination, please send us a letter.
      We need these letters no later than March 15, 2000. Do not hesitate to
contact me at (812)855-6508 if you have additional questions. Your input is
important to promoting research related to autism spectrum disorders.
Address the letter to: Congressman Dan Burton
Send letters to: Dr. Cathy Pratt
Indiana Institute on Disability & Community/Indiana, Resource Center for
2853 East Tenth Street, Bloomington IN 47408-2696  FAX: (812)855-9630
E-Mail: prattc@indiana.edu  Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., Director
From the Indiana Resource Center For Autism Reporter Winter 2000 Vol 5, No 2
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