Five different audits look at CDC’s HIV programs

Critics say they are distracting

The U.S. Office of the Inspector General is conducting four audits of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of which is about to be completed and another that is soon to start. At the same time, the CDC is conducting its own audit. They are:

  • Since March, the Global AIDS Program in developing countries has been audited to determine if funds are being used in the best way. A report is expected in the next few months.
  • An ongoing review since April is looking at how the CDC takes indirect charges from various allocations and how those indirect charges for HIV activities compare to other programs. It is not known when it will be completed.
  • An audit is looking at the monitoring and oversight of CDC grantees, specifically in their compliance with financial and performance reporting requirements. This is ongoing and is expected to continue into next year.
  • An audit, not yet started, will look at whether the CDC is following applicable laws in making its funding decisions. That will begin after the audit of the Global AIDS Program is completed.
  • The CDC is looking at a random sample of 26 community-based organizations (CBOs) during the next six months to monitor programmatic and financial compliance with grant guidelines. So far, seven CBOs have been visited. One of them is the Stop AIDS Project in San Francisco, which has been accused of using CDC funds on programs deemed by federal officials to be obscene.

This slew of audits has generated strong feelings among CDC advisors, particularly about how auditors and CBOs were chosen.

"The auditors who visit the program come with a portfolio that may not be neutral in their thinking and which influences their decision on how money should be spent," says Benny Prim, MD, director of the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation in Brooklyn, NY.

Some advisors also expressed frustration that outside audits were distracting and taking resources away from prevention activities. "I think inside auditing is the way to go, not outside auditing that tends to be generated by the political crisis du jour," says Ward Cates, MD, president of Family Health International in Research Triangle Park, NC.