E&C Leaders Ask Government Watchdog to Assess Risks of HHS and USDA Selling Excess Laboratory Equipment

Members raise dual-use concerns over lab equipment that could facilitate bioterrorism or warfare

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), on behalf of the Health and Oversight Committee Republicans, wrote to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

In the letter, the Chairs request GAO study the oversight by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of sales of used and excess laboratory equipment and protective clothing that could be used to facilitate bioterrorism or warfare. 


“In 2023, GAO reported that a number of incidents over the past 10 years have led to questions about the nature and adequacy of U.S. government oversight of pathogens with pandemic potential. Moreover, these lapses have furthered concerns about the potential for a biological weapons attack. In recent years, increases in the accessibility of scientific findings and dual-use biological laboratory equipment—such as used fermenters, centrifuges, and other equipment—could increase the likelihood of such an attack. The availability of both biological laboratory equipment and protective clothing on the commercial market provides access to materials needed to conduct legitimate scientific research, but also increases the chances this equipment could be used for malicious purposes, such as biological terrorism or warfare. Furthermore, the existence of a resale market for this type of equipment and clothing at reduced cost means terrorists have the potential for even greater access to the supplies needed to create biological weapons.”

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.