This first quarterly and biannual report to Congress describes the U.S. government’s response to the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. In this report, we are describing activities and resources associated with Operation United Assistance, the U.S. mission to combat the Ebola virus disease in West Africa, and helping inform Congress and the public about efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola virus. This report covers the period from the start of the outbreak through March 31, 2015.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa had infected about 25,000 people resulting in almost 10,400 fatalities worldwide. National healthcare systems and economies in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have been severely impacted. As a global health threat and a national security priority, the Ebola virus disease outbreak spurred a U.S. Government response that has been significant in size, scope, and cost. Several federal departments and agencies are involved in the whole-of-government response for reducing Ebola transmission in West Africa, as well as efforts to address second-order effects and better prepare international health systems for future outbreaks. The resources committed to this international crisis, including $4.829 billion in fiscal year 2015 emergency appropriations, are extensive.
The November 2014 activation of U.S. military reservists in association with the U.S. mission to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Operation United Assistance, triggered provisions of the Inspector General (IG) Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.), as amended, related to oversight of contingency operations. Under Section 8L of the IG Act, the Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) for the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of State (DOS) are required to coordinate oversight efforts and report on the progress of overseas contingency operations and corresponding oversight efforts. In light of the whole-of-government response to the outbreak and the significant role that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has had in international Ebola response efforts, HHS OIG has also actively engaged in these coordination efforts.
Under Section 8L, DoD’s IG was designated as the Lead IG on February 24, 2015, after the designation of the contingency operation. The DoD IG, in turn, appointed USAID’s Acting Deputy IG as the Associate IG to lead related oversight planning, coordination, and reporting activities.
This report provides background information on the Ebola virus and prior outbreaks, as well as developments relating to the current outbreak that originated in West Africa. It also provides information on the framework for the U.S. Government response and how it is organized and staffed. In addition, this report addresses the funding and appropriations supporting the effort, discusses related programs and activities, and describes oversight, coordination, and planning work undertaken by the respective OIGs.