Biosurveillance: DHS Should Reevaluate Mission Need and Alternatives Before Proceeding with BioWatch Generation-3 Acquisition, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 1MB]

"The 2001 anthrax attacks brought attention to the potentially devastating consequences of a biological attack. DHS operates a program, known as BioWatch, intended to help detect such an attack by airborne pathogens. The currently deployed technology can take 12 to 36 hours to confirm the presence of pathogens. DHS has been pursuing a third generation of the technology that will perform automated testing, potentially generating a result in under 6 hours and reducing labor costs. GAO [Government Accountability Offie] was asked to examine issues related to the Gen-3 acquisition. This report addresses the extent to which (1) DHS used its acquisition life cycle framework to justify the need and consider alternatives; (2) DHS developed reliable performance, schedule, and cost expectations; and (3) steps remaining before Gen-3 can be deployed. GAO reviewed acquisition documentation and test results and interviewed agency officials from the BioWatch program and other DHS components with development, policy, and acquisition responsibilities. GAO recommends that before continuing the acquisition, DHS reevaluate the mission need and alternatives and develop performance, schedule, and cost information in accordance with guidance and good acquisition practices. DHS concurred with the recommendations, but not the implementation timeline. DHS plans to proceed with the acquisition while implementing them to avoid further delays. However, GAO believes the recommendations should be enacted before DHS proceeds with the acquisition as discussed in this report."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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Listed on September 19, 2012 [Critical Releases]