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WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 25, 2016) – The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which provides recommendations to improve defense against bioterrorism, naturally occurring pandemics, and accidental releases, has issued the following statement in response to passage by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of S. 2967, the National Biodefense Strategy Act of 2016:

“HSGAC has taken a very important step in requiring the Administration to harmonize a trove of directives and policies that direct a $6 billion biodefense system” said Senator Joe Lieberman, co-chair of the Panel. “The lack of a comprehensive, cohesive, and regularly updated strategy has undoubtedly resulted in pervasive stovepipes, duplicative spending, and unmet needs. I am especially concerned that we have separate presidential directives for human biodefense and for defense of agriculture. We cannot expect to handle diseases that spread easily between people and animals when our governance is not aligned optimally. Zika virus very likely has an animal reservoir, and we need all of our agencies on the same page to prevent its spread. This is just one area in which I think this bill will do an enormous amount of good."

Governor Tom Ridge, also co-chair, stated, "The major presidential directives, public laws, and international treaties and partnerships directing federal biodefense efforts number no less than 25, and that is an extremely conservative estimate. Like many aspects of homeland security, I believe this proliferation reflects a well-intentioned system that has become too fragmented to be enforced and implemented in a coherent, prioritized, and unitary fashion. I strongly urge the full Senate to take up this bill, and believe the strategic approach it requires will save both lives and dollars."

The Panel’s October 2015 report found that the lack of a comprehensive, cohesive, and regularly updated strategy has resulted in disorganization and confusion, particularly as Administrations change and the institutional knowledge associated with them is lost. Recommendation 2 of the report calls for a Biodefense Coordination Council and Recommendation 3 calls for a National Biodefense Strategy. The Panel testified before HSGAC in October 2015.

 

About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense released its report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, in October 2015. The report identifies capability gaps and recommends changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. The panel is co-chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Gov. Tom Ridge, who are joined by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Sen. Tom Daschle, former Rep. Jim Greenwood, and the Hon. Kenneth Wainstein. The Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Hudson Institute are the Panel’s institutional sponsors.

Read Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense Report: A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts

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