Introduction: In recent years, improved biosurveillance has become a bipartisan national security priority. As has been pointed out by the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee and others, building a national biosurveillance enterprise requires having strong biosurveillance systems at the state and local levels, and additional policies are needed to strengthen their biosurveillance capabilities. Because of the foundational role that state and local health departments play in biosurveillance, we sought to determine to what extent state and local health departments have the right capabilities in place to provide the information needed to detect and manage an epidemic or public health emergency—both for state and local outbreak management and for reporting to federal agencies during national public health crises. We also sought to identify those policies or actions that would improve state and local biosurveillance and make recommendations to federal policymakers who are interested in improving national biosurveillance capabilities.
Browse By Region
Browse By Type
Browse By Date Range
- December 14, 2011
Biosurveillance: Developing a Collaboration Strategy is Essential to Fostering Interagency Data and Resource Sharing
“The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act sought to enhance early detection and situational awareness during a disease outbreak, in part, by creating the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) within the Department of Homeland Security by integrating information and supporting an interagency biosurveillance community. The act directed GAO to report on the of biosurveillance and resource use in federal, state, local, and tribal governments. This report focuses on the actions taken by NBIC to (1) acquire resources to accomplish its mission and (2) effectively collaborate with its federal partners. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed documents, such as NBIC’s Concept of Operations, and interviewed officials at NBIC and 11 federal partners.”
- June 21, 2011
The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act directed GAO to report on the state of biosurveillance and resource use in federal, state, local, and tribal governments. This report is one in a series responding to that mandate. This report addresses (1) federal efforts that support a national biosurveillance capability and (2) the extent to which mechanisms are in place to guide the development of a national biosurveillance capability. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed federal biosurveillance programs, plans, and strategies and interviewed agency officials from components of 12 federal departments with biosurveillance responsibilities.
- July 6, 2010
“Bioterrorism policy discussions and response planning efforts have tended to discount the capacity of the public to participate in the response to an act of bioterrorism, or they have assumed that local populations would impede an effective response. Fears of mass panic and social disorder underlie this bias. Although it is not known how the population will react to an unprecedented act of bioterrorism, experience with natural and technological disasters and disease outbreaks indicates a pattern of generally effective and adaptive collective action. Failure to involve the public as a key partner in the medical and public-health response could hamper effective management of an epidemic and increase the likelihood of social disruption.”
By Thomas A. Glass and Monica Schoch-Spana
- June 28, 2011
The threat of bioterrorism, long ignored and denied, has heightened over the past few years. Recent events in Iraq, Japan, and Russia cast an ominous shadow. Two candidate agents are of special concern: smallpox and anthrax. The magnitude of the problems and the gravity of the scenarios associated with release of these organisms have been vividly portrayed by two epidemics of smallpox in Europe during the 1970s and by an accidental release of aerosolized anthrax from a Russian bioweapons facility in 1979. Efforts in the United States to deal with possible incidents involving bioweapons in the civilian sector have only recently begun and have made only limited progress. Only with substantial additional resources at the federal, state, and local levels can a credible and meaningful response be mounted. For longer-term solutions, the medical community must educate both the public and policy makers about bioterrorism and build a global consensus condemning its use.
- April 6, 2012