Audit Will Look Into Disappearance Of $22 Million Worth Of Equipment

Thursday, July 12th 2007, 6:31 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate the disappearance of $22 million worth of equipment, computers and other items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, a congressional oversight committee requested an audit of the CDC's property management procedures and an investigation into allegations of theft at the center.

CDC officials said they have accounted for about $9 million in missing goods in recent weeks.

``A thorough audit will help stop the bleeding of taxpayer-owned property at CDC,'' U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement Wednesday. ``In cases of theft, it will also tell us what happened to the thieves.''

The committee specifically said it was concerned about a suspected ``insider'' burglary of $500,000 in computers, and millions of dollars worth of other items missing or unaccounted for since the CDC's last audit in 1995.

Daniel Levinson, inspector general of Health and Human Services, told Barton in a June 25 letter that his department would conduct an audit and investigate the theft allegations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.

Between fiscal 2004 and 2006, there were 61 investigations into the theft or disappearance of CDC property. No arrests or disciplinary action resulted from those investigations, and several are ongoing, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.

He said much of the equipment was discovered missing during a reorganization at the center. Staff are using new computer programs to better track items, he said.