Biodefense: The Nation Faces Multiple Challenges in Building and Maintaining Biodefense and Biosurveillance, Statement of Chris Currie, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, Testimony Before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 882KB]

"The nation's biodefense enterprise is the whole combination of systems at every level of government and the private sector that can contribute to protecting the nation and its citizens from potentially catastrophic effects of a biological event. It is composed of a complex collection of resources, programs, and initiatives, designed for different purposes and dedicated to mitigating various risks, both natural and intentional. In an era of rapid transit and global trade, the public health and agricultural industries, as well as natural ecosystems including native plants and wildlife, face increased threats of naturally occurring outbreaks of infectious disease and accidental exposure to biological threats. Also, threats of bioterrorism, such as anthrax attacks, highlight the continued need for biosurveillance systems that provide early detection and warning about biological threats to humans. This statement summarizes GAO's [Government Accountability Office] work on challenges to building and maintaining the nation's biodefense and biosurveillance. This statement is based on GAO work issued from December 2009 through March 2016 on various biodefense and biosurveillance efforts. GAO also reviewed the 2015 report of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense for updates, but has not independently assessed the entirety of the conclusions, recommendations or methods. To conduct the prior work, GAO reviewed relevant laws, presidential directives, policies, strategic plans, and other reports; surveyed states; and interviewed federal, state, and industry officials, among others."

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