GAO: DoD needs better coordination of combat casualty care research


The Defense Department's efforts to coordinate combat casualty care research and development are coming up short, according to a Government Accountability Office report (.pdf).

Defense biomedical research organizations use a coordinated approach to plan combat casualty care research and development, the GAO says, "but not all of DoD's nonmedical research organizations share information early in the research process."

Although DoD established a planning committee in 2010 to coordinate the efforts of organizations conducting combat casualty care research and issued a final charter in January identifying members' respective roles and responsibilities, the GAO says the lack of coordination persists. The problem, the report finds, is that DoD organizations that typically do not conduct biomedical research, such as the Army Research Laboratory, are not involved in DoD's efforts to coordinate this research.

"When these organizations conduct research relevant to combat casualty care they do not always share information with appropriate officials early in the research process, as they are not aware of the need to coordinate early and may not fully understand medical research requirements," states the report. "As a result, some researchers have had to repeat some work to adhere to these requirements."

The GAO also emphasizes the importance of these agencies monitoring and assessing their performance to help achieve organizational goals, which for DoD include addressing gaps in its capability to provide combat casualty care such as improving DoD's ability to control bleeding, which is the primary cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield.

"Because multiple DoD organizations conduct research to develop medical products and processes to improve combat casualty care, it is critical that these organizations coordinate their work," say auditors.

In its report, the GAO recommends that DoD communicate the importance of early coordination among DoD's nonmedical organizations and develop and implement a plan to determine the extent to which research fills gaps and achieves other goals. In response, GAO says DoD concurred with its recommendations.

For more:
-download the report, GAO-13-209 (.pdf)

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