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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Property System Data Were Neither Accurate Nor Complete

The data in CDC's property system were neither accurate nor complete. Of the 250 items we sampled from the property system, we located 245. CDC had classified the remaining five items as missing. We also found 14 items costing $3.1 million that were not barcoded or accurately recorded in the property system. On the basis of these sample results, we estimated that $29.2 million of CDC property was at risk of being lost or misplaced. Human error was responsible for the inaccurate recording of existing property in the property system.

In addition, CDC did not record in the property system all newly acquired property. Of 128 sampled payments that CDC made for property in fiscal year (FY) 2013, CDC correctly barcoded and added to its property system property items associated with 114 payments. For the 14 remaining payments for property items, CDC either (1) had not barcoded or had not recorded the items purchased in the property system or (2) had recorded the items purchased in the property system with incorrect prices. On the basis of these sample results, we estimated that the cost of property purchased in FY 2013 totaling $96.7 million was understated by approximately $5.9 million in the property system. These deficiencies occurred because CDC personnel had made clerical errors when they manually entered costs into the property system. Also, although CDC performed a monthly reconciliation of its property system with HHS's Unified Financial Management System, the reconciliation was not complete. CDC's reconciliation was incomplete because it included only property items with costs of $25,000 or more. By limiting the monthly reconciliation process to property with costs of $25,000 or more, CDC excluded from its reconciliation process 95 percent of its property items, which represented 41 percent of the total inventory costs in the property system.

Furthermore, CDC did not always remove from its property system property that it had identified as missing. Because CDC had not taken final action to remove the missing property, the cost of property included in CDC's property system could be overstated by as much as $23.1 million.

We recommended that CDC (1) ensure that existing property is barcoded and correctly identified in the property system; (2) ensure that all property is added correctly to the property system, that the property system is reconciled to the general ledger, and that the property system is adjusted to resolve any discrepancies; and (3) complete Reports of Survey within HHS's 90-day time limit and remove property from the property system that the Reports of Survey identify as missing. CDC did not concur with our first recommendation, partially concurred with our second recommendation, and concurred with our third recommendation.

Filed under: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention