Chair Rodgers: HHS’s OIG Report Confirms our Concerns with NIH’s Funding of EcoHealth Alliance

Jan 27, 2023
Press Release

Report Also Raises New Concerns of NIH Favoritism to EcoHealth Alliance

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement regarding the release of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report titled: “The National Institutes of Health and EcoHealth Alliance Did Not Effectively Monitor Awards and Subawards, Resulting in Missed Opportunities to Oversee Research and Other Deficiencies.” 

“The American people have a right to know what types of potentially risky research their tax dollars are funding. This OIG Report reaffirms many issues Energy and Commerce Republicans have continued to raise with NIH’s negligence in holding EcoHealth Alliance accountable to the terms of grant agreements. Furthermore, the report raises even more questions from the Committee about the apparent special treatment given to EcoHealth Alliance. 

“The Energy and Commerce Committee will build off the information in this report as we continue our investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and our oversight of our public health agencies. We must shine a light on any government failures and improper actions in order to correct course moving forward and restore public trust.” 

Chair Rodgers, along with Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), wrote to NIH on October 24, 2022, regarding the resumption of NIH funding to EcoHealth Alliance. 

KEY LETTER EXCERPT: “We write to request information on why NIH provided new funding to EcoHealth Alliance (EcoHealth), and why NIH is considering a resumption of funding for work under a suspended grant to EcoHealth, given EcoHealth’s documented failures to comply with NIH grant terms and the outstanding questions concerning EcoHealth’s conduct.  

“NIH records show that on September 22, 2022, the NIH funded EcoHealth through a new award grant 1R011AI163118-01A1 after suspending EcoHealth’s grant R01AI110964 for more than two years (R01 award). Funding this new award grant and NIH’s intentions to resume funding for EcoHealth under the R01 award as indicated in the August 19, 2022, letter to Republican Committee Leader Rodgers seem inexplicable given NIH’s previous findings of EcoHealth’s noncompliance with grant terms and the serious concerns about EcoHealth raised in our four letters without a response from NIH.” 

The Chairs also wrote to NIH on June 10, 2021, regarding the resumption of NIH funding to EcoHealth Alliance. 

KEY LETTER EXCERPT: “Since the Republican committee leaders March 18, 2021 letter to NIH, our investigation has found a number of additional issues that raise very serious concerns about the adequacy of NIH’s oversight of grantees. The following newly found issues appear troubling and given the significance of these concerns, we expect the NIH to respond fully and substantively. Minority [then Republican] committee staff is continuing to work with your staff to schedule an NIH briefing. The NIH should be prepared to address these issues at the briefing, in addition to all of the questions from the March 18, 2021 letter that presently remain unanswered.”