Lawmakers request review of mental health programs

"How does SAMHSA's [mental health office] ensure that its grant spending supports SAMHSA's mission, including the agency's long-term strategic goals?" the lawmakers wrote to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

"What performance measures and metrics … does SAMHSA's [mental health office] require from grantees during and at the conclusion of an award period?"

The administration is a branch of the Health and Human Services Department. President Obama requested $3.572 billion for the agency in his 2014 budget, including a $3.5 million funding increase in light of recent mass shootings.

Murphy and DeGette have been studying mental health appropriations since December, when a gunman shot dead 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newton. The shooter, Adam Lanza, is reported to have suffered from a mental illness.

In April, the lawmakers asked the Office of Management and Budget to provide a comprehensive list of all federal programs and research projects related to mental health with the goal of understanding how the efforts might be better coordinated.

Murphy and DeGette asked the GAO on Friday to explain how federal programs on mental illness employ evidence-based practices, how federal agencies identify and address gaps in care, and how they coordinate among themselves to better serve patients.