Duckworth Leads Call For Investigation into Suspicious Deletion of Online Information on the Strategic National Stockpile
[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) in demanding an immediate independent investigation into potential improper political interference in the management of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The senators’ letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) comes as a response to reports that the SNS website was altered to reflect controversial remarks made by Jared Kushner that the stockpile does not support state and local supplies during public health emergencies.
In part, the Senators wrote: “This inaccurate deletion distorts the public’s understanding of the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile and violates principles of good and honest government, including transparency, faithful execution of the agency’s mission and most importantly, advancing the public interest.”
A full copy of the letter is available below and online here.
April 3, 2020
Ms. Christi Grimm
Principal Deputy Inspector General
Office of Inspector General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dear Principal Deputy Inspector General Grimm:
We write to request that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) immediately initiate an independent investigation into potential improper interference in the management of the Strategic National Stockpile to advance a political agenda.
Early this morning on April 3, 2020, an unidentified entity, at the direction of an unidentified source, swiftly deleted the description of the Strategic National Stockpile as, “...the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out,” and deleted the reference to the fact that one of the purposes of maintaining a Federal Strategic National Stockpile is so that, “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.”
This inaccurate deletion distorts the public’s understanding of the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile and violates principles of good and honest government, including transparency, faithful execution of the agency’s mission and most importantly, advancing the public interest. The timing of the deletion appears related to Jared Kushner’s inaccurate statement yesterday that, “And the notion of the Federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be State stockpiles that they then use.”
Accordingly, we request that HHS OIG launch an investigation – either as a separate inquiry or as an additional component of a comprehensive investigation into broad mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile – to determine whether political appointees in the Trump administration directed the improper use of public resources on behalf Jared Kushner or other political appointees to alter information on an official Federal agency government website. We thank you in advance for your consideration of our request.
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