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Autism Speaks Reiterates Call for Oversight On Research Spending

November 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC  (November 25, 2013) -- Autism Speaks reiterated its call for close monitoring of federal autism research spending to assure that scarce dollars are used efficiently in studying the nation's fastest growing developmental disability.

Autism Speaks restated its policy following the release of a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) that found a potential for duplication in research work coordinated by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). The GAO found no evidence of duplication, but rather raised concerns over the current process for awarding federally funded research studies.

Several federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, issued strong rebuttals to the GAO findings.

"We are concerned that this report may provide a risk of misinforming policy makers and the public," HHS said in its comments. "Although this report acknowledges that duplication is necessary in science for the sake of replicating or corroborating results, it does not appreciate the full extent of the necessity of replication and the extensive policies in place at HHS and other federal agencies to prevent redundant studies."

The GAO report was requested by Congress when it reauthorized the Combating Autism Act in 2011. Autism Speaks supported the request and renewed its call for tight accountability over federal research spending in meetings with Members of Congress during last week's Autism Speaks to Washington policy summit.

The GAO recommended a series of steps for federal agencies that award autism research funding to better coordinate their contract activities.