WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 28, 2015) — Today, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, co-chaired by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (R-PA), released the first comprehensive examination of U.S. biodefense efforts in over a decade, calling for major reforms to strengthen America’s ability to confront intentionally introduced, accidentally released, and naturally occurring biological threats.
The report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, details America’s vulnerability to bioterrorism and deadly outbreaks and emphasizes the need to transform the way our government is organized to confront these threats. Biodefense recommendations include centralizing leadership in the Office of the Vice President; establishing a White House Biodefense Coordination Council; strengthening state, local, territorial, and tribal capabilities; and promoting innovation through sustained biodefense prioritization and funding.
“The U.S. government has worked to address myriad security challenges since September 11, 2001,” said Senator Joe Lieberman. “Unfortunately, biological threats are not given the same level of attention as are other threats, leaving us significantly underprepared – but this does not have to be the case. Dramatic improvements are within our reach if we follow a national blueprint for biodefense, demand strong leadership, and build on the good work already underway.”
“The U.S. is vulnerable to biological threats because we lack strong centralized leadership at the highest level of government,” said Governor Tom Ridge. “We need one person – a leader with the charge, authority, vision, and expertise – to pull together more than a dozen departments and agencies, as well as the private sector, to defend against biological threats to the Nation. Biodefense touches many aspects of society and as such, requires a complex enterprise approach, something we currently lack.”
The comprehensive report includes specific and pragmatic legislative, programmatic, and policy actions in the form of 33 urgent recommendations and close to 100 action items. The panel scrutinized the status of prevention, deterrence, preparedness, detection, response, attribution, recovery, and mitigation – the spectrum of activities deemed necessary for biodefense by both Republican and Democratic Administrations, and many policy experts. They identified substantial achievements, but also found serious gaps that continue to leave the homeland vulnerable to biological threats.
To read the full study visit http://www.biodefensestudy.org/