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Capitol Health Call
January 8, 2014

GAO: Better Coordination Needed to Avoid Duplicate Autism Research

JAMA. 2014;311(2):128. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285753

The vast majority of autism research projects funded by federal agencies are potentially duplicative, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

About 84% of autism research projects funded with $1.4 billion from 12 federal agencies in fiscal years 2008 through 2012 had the potential to duplicate each other’s efforts, according to a GAO report released November 20 (http://1.usa.gov/1coeccB).

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), created through passage of the Combating Autism Act of 2006, is supposed to coordinate the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) autism research and activities, monitor all federal autism activities (such as disseminating information or running awareness campaigns), and create and annually update a strategic plan for autism research. However, the GAO reported IACC was limited in its ability to monitor and coordinate research because it used outdated, inconsistent, incomplete data that were not tracked over time. The GAO recommended that HHS improve the usefulness of IACC data to better coordinate and monitor federal autism activities. The GAO said that HHS disagreed and claimed that it was already making adequate efforts. All federal agencies but the Department of Defense disputed that any duplication occurs.