Federal Efforts to Address the Threat of Bioterrorism: Selected Issues for Congress [August 6, 2010]   [open pdf - 203KB]

"Recent reports by congressional commissions and others, the inclusion of bioterrorism issues in President Obama's State of the Union address, and issuance of executive orders have increased congressional attention to the threat of bioterrorism. Federal efforts to combat the threat of bioterrorism predate the anthrax attacks of 2001 but have significantly increased since then. The U.S. government has developed these efforts as part of and in parallel with other defenses against conventional terrorism. The continued attempts by terrorist groups to launch attacks targeted at U.S. citizens have increased concerns that federal counterterrorism activities insufficiently address the threat. Several strategy and planning documents direct the federal government's biodefense efforts. Many different agencies have a role. These agencies have implemented numerous disparate actions and programs in their statutory areas to address the threat. Despite these efforts, many experts, including congressional commissions, non-governmental organizations, and industry representatives, have highlighted weaknesses or flaws in the federal government's biodefense activities. Recent reports by congressional commissions have stated that the federal government could significantly improve its efforts to address the bioterrorism threat. Key questions face congressional policymakers: How sufficiently do the efforts already underway address the threat of bioterrorism? Have the federal investments to date met the expectations of Congress or other stakeholders? Should Congress alter, augment, or terminate these existing programs in the current environment of fiscal challenge? What is the appropriate federal role in response to the threat of bioterrorism, and what mechanisms are most appropriate for involving other stakeholders, including state and local jurisdictions, industry, and others?"

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41123
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