E&C Republicans Press CDC for Information Related to Reorganization Plan

CDC Must Provide Information from Internal Audit Before Requesting More Authority from Congress

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, requesting information related to its efforts to its Moving Forward Initiative. The letter, sent on behalf of the Republican members of the subcommittees, also serves as a notice to preserve all documents and communications regarding the effort. 


“As you have publicly acknowledged, the CDC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic response has been widely criticized. From early pandemic test kit failures to the revelation that teachers’ unions were provided an opportunity to opine on and revise the CDC’s school reopening guidance, the CDC committed multiple unforced errors during the COVID-19 response. More recently, the CDC’s insistence that children as young as three years old continue to receive COVID-19 shots and wear masks has made it an outlier among global public health agencies. In short, CDC has lost the American people’s trust.” 


The CDC must provide the Committee with more than a cursory, summarized overview of the findings of the Moving Forward Initiative before the Committee can even begin to consider the agency’s request for additional authority. According to principles for government reorganization recommended by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress ‘has an important role to play in both its legislative and oversight capacities in establishing, monitoring, and maintaining both governmentwide and agency-specific management reforms.’ This Committee has serious reservations regarding CDC’s approach to public engagement, stakeholder outreach, and information gathering during the Moving Forward Initiative. The CDC has been rightly criticized in the past for its insular culture and lack of transparency. To restore public trust and implement effective reforms, the agency must be more forthcoming to this Committee, Congress, and the American people.” 


Timeline: The CDC is currently implementing its Moving Forward Initiative, which it started in April 2022 but did not publicly announce until August 2022. 

Structure: The Moving Forward Initiative appears to consist of two parallel reviews with a resulting reorganization of the agency based on the reviews’ findings.  

  • The first review, titled the Scientific and Programmatic Review, focused on identifying methods “to improve and institutionalize how CDC develops and deploys its science, both in pandemic and non-emergency times.”  
  • The second, titled the Structural Review, sought to “gather feedback on the agency’s current processes, systems, and structure and solicit suggestions for strategic change, with a strong focus on the agency’s core capabilities.” 

Lack of Transparency: The CDC conducted the Moving Forward Initiative largely in secret.  

  • The public notice and comment period was only open for 10 days and resulted in just three submitted public comments. 
  • The CDC appears to have only held one public meeting at which the initiative was discussed. 
  • In contrast with the small amount of public input allowed by the CDC, the Scientific and Programmatic Review included approximately 120 interviews with internal CDC leadership, staff, and unidentified external partners presumably solicited by the CDC for input. 
  • Similarly, the Structural Review included more than 50 internal interviews. 
  • None of the interviews conducted during the reorganization have been made public, nor has the CDC publicly revealed the outside stakeholders it consulted during the Moving Forward Initiative.  
  • To date, the CDC has made public only two short summaries of the reviews’ findings. 
  • Taken together, those summaries total eight pages.  

Resulting Action: CDC is undertaking a large-scale reorganization. 

  • The Federal Register notice announcing the reorganization—one of the few public documents outlining any details on the effort—states the reorganization eliminated 20 different offices, divisions, and centers while creating 16 new entities within the agency. 
  • Most notably, the reorganization appears to expand greatly the size and power of the Office of the Director at the expense of the agency’s national centers. 

Request for Additional Authority: Beyond structural changes, the CDC is using its findings of the Moving Forward Initiative to justify its request to Congress for additional authority to, among other things, mandate data reporting from state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) public health agencies. 

  • This authority would dramatically change the nature of CDC’s relationship with its SLTT partners from one based on the principles of cooperative federalism to one where CDC can compel SLTT agencies to hand over individualized public health data.  
  • To date, CDC has not articulated any restrictions on how it would exercise the requested data authority.  
  • CDC’s past data collection practices suggest the agency would use such authority on matters totally outside of CDC’s core mission. 

CLICK HERE to read the letter.