COVID

HHS refuses to provide records revealing if cloth masks work or not

Watchdog sues after agency sits on findings of cloth masks studies

August 16, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced transparency litigation against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeking records surrounding studies about the efficacy of cloth masks.

In January of this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that their internal studies have shown that wearing cloth masks is not an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID. This revelation came after almost two years of HHS, along with its subsidiaries the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recommending the use of cloth masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. During this time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) along with his role as an advisor to the White House, and other government leaders went on regular media tours encouraging mask mandates and dismissing those who questioned whether cloth masks were effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. They quite possibly continued doing so after having access to the studies.

For more than two years, many Americans were subjected to mask mandates in most public places. Even months after reports were available calling into question the efficacy of cloth masks, numerous school districts across the United States continued to require children, the least susceptible demographic to COVID-19, to wear cloth masks in the classroom with the apparent backing of HHS. Even today, districts such as San Diego Unified require student masking. Americans deserve to know when HHS discovered that cloth masks were ineffective, why the results of these studies were kept from the public, and why HHS continued to recommend cloth masks when the data showed they were largely ineffective.

After this information was reported, FGI began seeking records surrounding internal studies on the efficacy of cloth masks and whether the agencies funded randomized control trials related to masks. While FGI has been willing to work with HHS and its subsidiaries, the agencies have not been forthcoming. The only way to now retrieve these records and make them accessible to the American public is through the courts. FGI has been forced to resort to litigation with HHS, NIH, and NIAID over their ongoing withholding of the requested records.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“When the CDC revealed that cloth masks were ineffective, they were stating what the American public already knew for months. Unfortunately, those who publicly questioned the efficacy of cloth masks prior to their announcement were dismissed or branded purveyors of misinformation, and worse by Dr. Fauci and other government officials. The American people deserve to know how long HHS was sitting on this data, if they even reviewed studies before making their recommendations for mandated masks, and why they continued to promote cloth masks after they knew they didn’t work to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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22,000 Unvaccinated DHS Employees Sitting in Limbo, Documents Reveal

As the border crisis worsens, DHS’ posture on the COVID vaccine mandate may force a massive employee exodus

July 6, 2022

(Washington DC) – The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) has received documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealing the potential impact of the federal government’s vaccine mandate on DHS employees. The data shows that nearly 22,000 employees from the department critical to our national security sought a waiver in late 2021, but the agency has refused to provide any clarity on whether they will face termination or adverse employment actions.

As part of an ongoing investigation into how the federal government’s response to COVID-19 has harmed the federal workforce and operations, FGI sought information on DHS’ vaccine mandate. FGI’s records request sought aggregate numbers on requests, approvals, and denials for exemptions – information DHS already had been instructed to compile by the Administration. After months of delay, the documents that FGI received reveal that 22,000 DHS employees are at risk of termination for not bowing to the Administration’s demand that they receive multiple injections of the COVID-19 vaccine. These employees submitted religious or medical exemption waivers as required by DHS but have yet to learn how the department will handle their waiver requests. As a result, DHS has left these employees and their families wondering from week-to-week whether they’ll continue to have a job.

This uncertainty not only affects affect DHS employees and their families but also affects national security and the untamed border crisis. With the administration mulling terminating Title 42, which ironically would eliminate measures put in place to keep COVID-19 out of the United States, DHS cannot afford to lose a single employee. Laying off 22,000 employees would be a huge step in the wrong direction and put America’s national security at risk. Just last week, we witnessed just how gruesome the border crisis has gotten when a tractor trailer was found with more than 50 dead migrants locked inside. DHS needs to bring more security personnel into the Department rather than threatening a major layoff.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“DHS has left 22,000 employees and their families wondering each week if they’ll have a job. This is not how a functional government agency operates. Leaving employees anxious about their futures will undermine the Department’s ability to retain a dedicated and productive workforce needed now more than ever. If Secretary Mayorkas were truly serious about ending this year-and-a-half crisis, he would focused on ensuring current DHS employees keep their jobs and on hiring more staff to help them, not effectively forcing tens of thousands of employees to leave.”

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Watchdog group: Oklahoma taxpayers should ‘ask tough questions’ on state COVID-19 spending

By David Beasley (Sooner State News)

April 8, 2022

Oklahomans should “ask tough questions and demand transparency” from the administration of Gov. Kevin Stitt on how COVID-19 relief funds are spent, a watchdog group said.

“While lead federal watchdogs have made it clear that waste, fraud, and abuse were rampant within the government’s pandemic relief efforts, it is clear there has been lax oversight and controls at the state level, too, as massive sums of federal COVID-19 money were handed out,” said Peter McGinnis, communication director for the Functional Government Initiative. “We’ve seen where reports from legislative watchdogs and official state audits in Oklahoma highlight to taxpayers that efforts to curb waste must be strengthened. The people of Oklahoma should continue to ask tough questions and demand transparency and accountability from the state‘s government over the handling of pandemic relief funds.”

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COVID aid program “invitation” to fraudsters, without even “minimal checks” – Federal Watchdog

March 31, 2022

(Washington DC) – Over a month ago, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a broad investigation into the federal government’s response to COVID-19 and how that response impacted government operations and the lives of American citizens. These investigations take an expansive look into the decisions that quite possibly changed our lives forever.

In an interview with NBC News, the lead federal watchdog overseeing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), one of the government’s signature programs set up to assist businesses hit by the pandemic, highlighted the rampant fraud and abuse that the watchdog has discovered. Often, when the federal government has set up large loan programs available to the public in response to an economic crisis, the need for expedited deployment of funds is prioritized over safeguards against fraud. The result is usually a big payout to scam artists and an even larger bill for taxpayers. Unfortunately, the lessons learned from the last crisis spending spree – in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis – seemed to have been thrown out the window yet again.

Despite the unprecedented waste, fraud, and abuse seen in the multiple COVID-related spending programs, there is still much left to uncover. Many of the questionable decisions and reckless government action extend beyond federal spending and encroach into the basic freedoms of all Americans. For instance, where are the data and high-quality studies underlying the cloth mask requirements? Who and what were driving the push for vaccine mandates for all federal government employees and contractors? Why did the government initially restrict monoclonal treatments and was the distribution of these treatments based upon objective criteria? And did the federal government give preferential treatment when it came to forgiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans? Finding answers for these questions and more is the goal of FGI’s investigation.

While the current probes continue, FGI will proceed with even more investigations as new discoveries come to light. FGI remains committed to highlighting dysfunction in government and providing the transparency the American people demand.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“The American people deserve to know the truth about the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and FGI will continue our search for answers. While many areas of society are returning to a semblance of normalcy, the recent revelations by the federal watchdog in charge of investigating COVID fraud demonstrate there is much more the public should know. Over the next few weeks, we will be announcing more investigations into the federal government’s handling of the pandemic.”

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FGI Seeks Records on Government’s Covid Response

Did federal actions undermine trust in institutions?

February 11, 2022

(Washington, DC) – The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced a broad investigation of the federal government’s response to COVID-19 and how that response impacts government operations and the lives of American citizens. FGI seeks to determine the foundation of decisions that have changed the operating posture of the government and, in some cases, may have weakened trust in some of its most important institutions.

The pandemic of the last two years has been the most profound event in the lives of nearly every American. The world is a far different place than it was prior. Did we “follow the science”? Will we emerge weaker or stronger?

After two years, the debates continue to rage – at times with even more passion. COVID mitigation measures have sparked tremendous public controversy and questions over their scientific underpinnings and ultimate efficacy. Mask recommendations from federal agencies have seen wide swings over the course of the pandemic with seemingly little connection to changing science. Airline industry leaders question the need for masks on airplanes. Governors across the political spectrum are relaxing mask mandates in schools and elsewhere. While at the same time the White House and CDC continue to recommend or require masks in schools and on public transportation. What data and studies underpin these recommendations?

The post-pandemic landscape for the federal workforce is almost certainly destined for change. How did two years of telework affect productivity and attendance at federal agencies? This information is necessary to determine whether the federal government is functioning properly and efficiently using taxpayer resources.

As the nation is poised to move from pandemic to endemic, the question arises, what does that really mean? If, as some assert, the government was too slow in responding at the beginning of the pandemic, is it also responding too slowly to its end? What evidence are these decisions based upon? A functional government is one that avoids arbitrary actions governed by political calculations and makes policy with an eye toward balancing public health with individual freedoms and prosperity. FGI, through an array of Freedom of Information Act requests, intends to seek answers to these questions and more.

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