Reports indicate the federal government is using the defense contract management firm to circumvent oversight and transparency norms  

Washington, DC — A group of ethics watchdogs are calling for increased transparency on contracts between the federal government and defense management firm, Advanced Technology International, Inc (ATI), for funding to Operation Warp Speed drug corporations. The Trump Administration bypassed regular transparency rules by using ATI as an intermediary to funnel more than $6 billion to the pharmaceutical corporations developing COVID-19 vaccines, adding another layer of secrecy and bureaucracy to the vaccine program that has already faced numerous questions about conflicts of interest.   

Today, American Oversight, Accountable Pharma, and Lower Drug Prices Now filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting the release of contracting records amid growing concerns about inadequate oversight for public funding.  

The requests ask for the release of coronavirus vaccine and therapeutics contracts funneled specifically through defense contractor ATI. Reporting indicates pharmaceutical companies Novavax, Pfizer (which is collaborating with BioNTech), Sanofi (which is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)) and Johnson & Johnson have received funding through these separate contracts:  

  • Novavax: $1.6 billion 
  • Pfizer: $1.95 billion 
  • Sanofi: $1.79 billion 
  • Johnson & Johnson: $1 billion 

American Oversight and Lower Drug Prices Now have previously submitted 12 requests related to coronavirus vaccine development (May 6, June 11, September 15). Over the last six months, HHS has released only three contracts, all of which were heavily redacted (Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi).  

“Transparency on how public officials are spending public money to beat COVID should not be a high bar to reach,” said Margarida Jorge, campaign director of Lower Drug Prices Now. “The Trump Administration has already handed billions of taxpayer dollars to its selected Operation Warp Speed drug corporations with no strings attached including no transparency, accountability or guarantee of affordability for the COVID vaccines and therapeutics they are developing. Entering into additional contracts with Big Pharma through a for-profit intermediary without transparency or accountability for how taxpayer funding is spent and who benefits from the expenditure continues to raise concern about whether this administration’s decisions serve public health or corporate profits.” 

“The Trump Administration has gone great lengths to keep these contracts out of the public eye. They’ve given away billions in taxpayer dollars to these pharmaceutical companies, and we still don’t have even the slightest idea what the administration has agreed to,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Trump has shown us over and over again since the beginning of the pandemic that he is willing to cut corners at the expense of American lives. We need to see these contracts.” 

“This is absolutely egregious and just one more example of the lengths the Trump Administration will go to keep Operation Warp Speed shrouded in secrecy and prevent the American people from knowing what they got for the billions of taxpayers dollars being poured into drug company coffers,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Accountable Pharma.  

Today’s requests are available here: https://www.americanoversight.org/document/foia-to-multiple-agencies-seeking-coronavirus-vaccine-and-therapeutics-development-contracts-funneled-through-defense-contractorhttps://www.americanoversight.org/document/foia-to-multiple-agencies-seeking-documents-reflecting-the-terms-of-coronavirus-vaccine-development-contracts  

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