Senator Edward M. Kennedy
317 Russell Senate Building
Washington D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Kennedy:
Today, the Project On Government Oversight released its report, Pandemic Flu: Lack of Leadership and Disclosure Plague Vaccine Program, which highlights serious flaws in the current government plan for the production of a pandemic flu vaccine. The report, which we’ve enclosed, identifies two specific weaknesses: lack of leadership at the top and lack of transparency.
The Administration has failed to ensure adequate leadership of the vaccine program by neglecting to name a permanent director for the new agency, BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), created by Congress more than a year ago. Furthermore, the lack of sufficient disclosure that has beset the program to date may prevent the discovery of problems and possible improvements to the program until too late.
We strongly recommend that Congress require HHS Secretary Leavitt to explain why he has not named a strong leader who commands respect in the business and public health communities and who will begin to address the magnitude of this threat to the nation. We would further urge that BARDA immediately move to provide greater transparency and make additional information, such as the extent to which we will rely on foreign sources of materials for vaccine production, more readily available to the public.
Please let me know if you have any questions or require further information. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you or members of your staff about this important issue.