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Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Reporting and Monitoring Personal Protective Equipment Inventory during the Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 drastically increased the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns, and significantly disrupted the global supply chain. As the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) had to compete for PPE for its personnel and patients. The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) received hotline allegations that VHA medical facilities could not acquire and maintain enough PPE to keep pace with escalating needs. The OIG assessed how VHA reported and monitored PPE supply levels during the pandemic. The review team also solicited information about whether facilities ran out of PPE or experienced significant shortages. Without reliable PPE inventory information, VHA cannot effectively assess demand, monitor stock levels, or identify supply shortages that require prompt action. In interviews of 22 people involved in logistics operations at 42 facilities, no one reported running out of PPE items. Some individuals reported running low, but risks of outages were mitigated by shifting supplies among facilities or acquiring additional PPE in time. Overall, the OIG found VHA took swift steps to work around known limitations in its inventory management system by developing new processes and tools, to use near real-time information on PPE inventory to shift and order supplies, and to otherwise ensure its facilities would not run out of PPE. The OIG found, however, that VHA could improve the accuracy and consistency of the PPE data for reporting and monitoring. VHA concurred with the OIG’s two recommendations to provide guidance for reporting expired quantities of PPE that may still be of use, and to more effectively verify facilities’ self-reported information. Although not a formal recommendation, the OIG also called on VHA to report any data limitations until corrections can be made.
U.S. Postal Service OIG

Pandemic Volume and Revenue Projected Scenarios

The Postal Service develops a range of financial projections as part of its financial planning. A financial projection is an estimate or forecast of a future situation or trend based on a study of present and historical trends. The main projection the Postal Service completes is the annual financial plan, which estimates revenue, volume, and expenses for each fiscal year. The fiscal year (FY) 2020 plan was approved by the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors in February 2020. On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States issued the national emergency declaration concerning the COVID-19 pandemic (pandemic). During the ongoing pandemic, the Postal Service has provided essential services as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure by continuously processing and delivering mail and packages. The pandemic continues to have an unpredictable impact on the economy, the Postal Service, and Postal Service finances. Our objective was to evaluate the reasonableness of the Postal Service’s projected financial scenarios as a result of the impact of the pandemic.