E&C Republicans Request Government Watchdog Audit to Further Account for Billions in Funding for Mental Health and 9-8-8 Program that Remain Unused

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) wrote to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

In their letter, the Chairs request GAO examine how the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has administered about $8 billion in COVID-19 supplemental funding, as well as nearly $1 billion in new funds provided to launch the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (9-8-8 Program). 

Following previous inquires by the Committee, SAMHSA finally released data that shows states and grantees have failed to use even half of all these funds. 


  • According to SAMHSA’s budget overview, SAMHSA’s annual budget authority for fiscal year 2021 was $5.8 billion, but it also received more than $7.8 billion in additional money through the COVID-19 supplemental funding.  
  • Like other federal and state government agencies, SAMHSA quickly had to manage priorities and oversee this influx of money to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Last year, in three separate letters, the Chairs requested that SAMHSA provide a full accounting for how the influx of funding had been spent. 
  • SAMHSA’s response showed that it had obligated most of this funding—$8.2 billion in COVID-19 supplemental funding and over $850 million for the 9-8-8 Program as of November 2023—primarily through grants to states and other grantees.  
  • However, SAMHSA grantees only spent about $4 billion out of the nearly $8 billion in COVID-19 supplemental funding and only about $350 million for the 9-8-8 program. 


“SAMHSA’s response also shows that the states and other grantees had used less than half of these obligated amounts by that date. In light of this, we have concerns about the nature and pace of using these funds, as well as SAMHSA’s ability to administer and oversee this additional funding.” 

The Chairs request GAO provide a report that addresses the following questions: 

  1. To what extent have states and other grantees used SAMHSA’s COVID-19 supplemental funding allocated to grants, and funding for the 9-8-8 Program? 
  2. What information does SAMHSA collect on how states and other grantees have used this grant funding? 
  3. What factors have affected states’ and other grantees’ ability to use these funds? 
  4. What information is available on how states and other grantees will use any remaining funds? 
  5. How has this additional grant funding affected SAMHSA’s administration and oversight, and what adjustments, if any, has SAMHSA made to accommodate the influx? 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.