New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Puerto Rico: Information on How Statehood Would Potentially Affect Selected Federal Programs and Revenue Sources. GAO-14-31, March 4.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661335.pdf
2. Puerto Rico: Informacion Sobre Como la Estatidad Afectaria Determinados Programas y Fuentes de Ingresos Federales. GAO-14-301, March 4.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661704.pdf
3. National Preparedness: HHS Has Funded Flexible Manufacturing Activities for Medical Countermeasures, but It Is Too Soon to Assess Their Effect. GAO-14-329, March 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662121.pdf
4. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-14-340SP, March 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662183.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662072
5. Programa Para Mitigar Activos Problemáticos: Es necesario un mayor esfuerzo en el control de préstamos equitativos y en el acceso a los programas de vivienda por parte de personas sin dominio del ingles. GAO-14-457, March 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662186.pdf
6. American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Economic Indicators Since Minimum Wage Increases Began. GAO-14-381, March 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662128.pdf
7. Missile Defense: Mixed Progress in Achieving Acquisition Goals and Improving Accountability. GAO-14-351, April 1.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662199.pdf
8. Afghanistan: Changes to Updated U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework Reflect Evolving U.S. Role. GAO-14-438R, April 1.
Counterterrorism 2014 Calendar (PDF)
Source: National Counterterrorism Center
NCTC’s Counterterrorism Calendar provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.
Biotechnology and Warfare: Perspectives on the Dual-Use Dilemma
Source: Biotechnology Law Report
Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, several people in New York City and Washington, D.C. became the targets of a biological attack when letters containing anthrax spores were sent to news media offices and the homes of several Democratic Senators.1 These events collectively launched what has come to be known as the war on terror and incited many states to tighten their anti-terrorism legislation and create new defensive, surveillance, and investigative programs. The post-9/11 anthrax attacks launched an explosive reaction by the U.S., while Canada and several other nations also sought to increase their biosafety and biosecurity measures. Moreover, rapid advances in the field of biotechnology, coupled with the rise in terrorism over the past decade, have increased the need for strict vigilance over biological research and application.
The practice of using biological agents as a means of warfare is in fact an ancient practice that can be traced back to 430 B.C.E. Rudimentary methods of biowarfare included throwing jars of poisonous snakes onto enemy ships, dropping cartfuls of diseased corpses into towns to eradicate populations, and even delivering blankets infested with smallpox into enemy camps. These barbaric methods continued up to the end of World War I, when the international community established biowarfare as the most inhumane method of offensive military practice. This consensus resulted in the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which banned the use of poisonous gases in war. This was the start of the status of biowarfare as an increasing concern among states. Since then, biowarfare has continued to be the subject of legislative, political, ethical, economical, and scientific debate, both domestic and international.
This paper examines the issue from a Canadian perspective in terms of its internal regimens and how they relate to practices in the international community. The focus is primarily on the dual-use nature of biotechnology and how this issue is addressed so differently on the domestic and international levels, leading to a chaotic form of arms control. The first section undertakes a rudimentary analysis of biotechnology in relation to warfare and provides a legal framework that guides the subsequent discussion. The second section lays out the current domestic structure in Canada in relation to biotechnology and examines its strengths and weaknesses in regard to its promotion of biosafety, biosecurity, and non-proliferation. The final section examines practices from an international perspective and addresses the challenges, realities, and shortcomings of the current international regimen, as well as proposed solutions, an increasingly salient issue.
Toward Integrated DoD Biosurveillance: Assessment and Opportunities
Source: RAND Corporation
In the context of the 2012 National Strategy for Biosurveillance, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to review its biosurveillance programs, prioritize missions and desired outcomes, evaluate how DoD programs contribute to these, and assess the appropriateness and stability of the department’s funding system for biosurveillance. DoD sought external analytic support through the RAND Arroyo Center. In response to the questions posed by OMB request, this report finds the following:
- Current DoD biosurveillance supports three strategic missions. Based mostly on existing statute, the highest-priority mission is force health protection, followed by biological weapons defense and global health security.
- Guidance issued by the White House on June 27, 2013, specified priorities for planning fiscal year 2015 budgets; it includes an explicit global health security priority, which strengthens the case for this as a key DoD biosurveillance strategic mission.
- DoD biosurveillance also supports four desired outcomes: early warning and early detection, situational awareness, better decision making at all levels, and forecast of impacts.
- Programs and measures that address priority missions — force health protection in particular — and desired outcomes should be prioritized over those that do not do so.
- More near-real-time analysis and better internal and external integration could enhance the performance and value of the biosurveillance enterprise.
- Improvements are needed in key enablers, including explicit doctrine/policy, efficient organization and governance, and increased staffing and improved facilities for the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC).
- AFHSC has requested additional funding to fully implement its current responsibilities under the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Health Affairs and for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. Additional responsibilities for coordinating the entire DoD biosurveillance enterprise would need concomitant resourcing.
- There is not a single, unified funding system for the DoD biosurveillance enterprise; the multiple current funding systems would likely benefit from an organizing mechanism with the authority to manage and control funds to meet enterprise goals.
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Biosurveillance: DHS Should Reevaluate Mission Need and Alternatives before Proceeding with BioWatch Generation-3 Acquisition. GAO-12-810, September 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648025.pdf
2. Securities Investor Protection Corporation: Customer Outcomes in the Madoff Liquidation Proceeding. GAO-12-991, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648238.pdf
3. Public Financial Management: Improvements Needed in USAID’s and Treasury’s Monitoring and Evaluation Efforts. GAO-12-920, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648222.pdf
4. Slot-Controlled Airports: FAA’s Rules Could Be Improved to Enhance Competition and Use of Available Capacity. GAO-12-902, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648218.pdf
5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Commerce Program Has Helped Manufacturing and Services Firms, but Measures, Data, and Funding Formula Could Improve. GAO-12-930, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648212.pdf
Trade Adjustment Assistance: Results of GAO’s Survey of Participant Firms in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program (GAO-12-935SP, September 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-930. GAO-12-935SP, September 13.
7. Industrial Base: U.S. Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Manufacturers Face Period of Uncertainty as DOD Purchases Decline and Foreign Sales Potential Remains Unknown. GAO-12-859, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648266.pdf
8. Community Banks and Credit Unions: Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act Depends Largely on Future Rule Makings. GAO-12-881, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648209.pdf
9. Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996: Status of Treasury’s Centralized Efforts to Collect Delinquent Federal Nontax Debt. GAO-12-870R, September 13.
10. Financial Stability: New Council and Research Office Should Strengthen the Accountability and Transparency of Their Decisions. GAO-12-886, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648065.pdf
1. Spectrum Management: Federal Government’s Use of Spectrum and Preliminary Information on Spectrum Sharing, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-1018T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648205.pdf
2. Biosurveillance: Observations on BioWatch Generation-3 and Other Federal Efforts, by William O. Jenkins, Jr., director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittees on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Homeland Security Committee. GAO-12-994T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648267.pdf
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Anthrax: DHS Faces Challenges in Validating Methods for Sample Collections and Analysis. GAO-12-488, July 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593194.pdf
2. Nuclear Nonproliferation: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Security of Radiological Sources at U.S. Medical Facilities. GAO-12-925, September 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647930.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/647950
3. Federal Real Property Security: Interagency Security Committee Should Implement a Lessons-Learned Process. GAO-12-901, September 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647947.pdf
4. Veterans’ Reemployment Rights: Department of Labor and Office of Special Counsel Need to Take Additional Steps to Ensure Demonstration Project Data Integrity. GAO-12-860R, September 10.
1. Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Is Taking Action to Better Manage Its Chemical Security Program, but It Is Too Early to Assess Results, by Cathleen A. Berrick, managing director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-567T, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648067.pdf
2. Maritime Security: Progress and Challenges 10 Years after the Maritime Transportation Security Act, by Stephen L. Caldwell, director, homeland Security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-12-1009T, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648000.pdf
3. Aviation Security: 9/11 Anniversary Observations on TSA’s Progress and Challenges in Strengthening Aviation Security, by Stephen M. Lord, director, homeland security and justice issues, before the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-12-1024T, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647995.pdf
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Biosurveillance: Nonfederal Capabilities Should Be Considered in Creating a National Biosurveillance Strategy. GAO-12-55, October 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d1255high.pdf
Progress in Disaster Planning and Preparedness Since 2001
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax letters of 2001 were followed by a decade of major domestic and international disasters. Whether wrought by terrorist attacks, nuclear or chemical incidents, rapidly moving pandemics, record-breaking hurricanes, massive earthquakes, or other natural catastrophes, deadly disasters will continue to occur, and prompt and effective response will be required when lives are at stake.
The good news is that disaster preparedness has improved during the past 10 years. For the health care community, 3 important developments are worth noting: (1) medical and public health professionals have joined the ranks of the disaster preparedness community; (2) the US federal government has increased its investment in preparedness, resulting in major improvements at the state and local levels; and (3) to an increasing extent, community participants who should be involved in disaster preparedness are getting involved.
New GAO Reports, Correspondences and Testimonies (PDF)
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Climate Change: Improvements Needed to Clarify National Priorities and Better Align Them with Federal Funding Decisions. GAO-11-317, May 20.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11317high.pdf
2. National Preparedness: DHS and HHS Can Further Strengthen Coordination for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Risk Assessments. GAO-11-606, June 21.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11606high.pdf
3. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Oversight of Underground Piping Systems Commensurate with Risk, but Proactive Measures Could Help Address Future Leaks. GAO-11-563, June 3.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11563high.pdf
4. Military Cash Incentives: DOD Should Coordinate and Monitor Its Efforts to Achieve Cost-Effective Bonuses and Special Pays. GAO-11-631, June 21.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11631high.pdf
1. Management Report: Improvements Are Needed to Enhance the Internal Revenue Service’s Internal Controls and Operating Effectiveness. GAO-11-494R, June 21.
2. Public Radio and the Role of Federal Funding. GAO-11-669R, May 19.
1. Nutrition Assistance: Additional Efficiencies Could Improve Services to Older Adults, by Kay E. Brown, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-11-782T, June 21.
2. GAO Human Capital Management: Efforts Taken to Ensure Effective Campus Recruitment, by Carolyn M. Taylor, chief human capital officer, before the Subcommittee on Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-11-615T, June 21.
+ Comptroller General Presentation
1. “Meeting the Fiscal and Performance Challenges Facing Government,” by Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States, before the National State Auditors Association annual conference, in Williamsburg, Virginia. GAO-11-754CG, June 15, 2011.
Osama bin Laden’s Death: Implications and Considerations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The May 1, 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) by U.S. forces in Pakistan has led to a range of views about near- and long-term security and foreign policy implications for the United States. Experts have a range of views about the killing of OBL. Some consider his death to be a largely symbolic event, while others believe it marks a significant achievement in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Individuals suggesting that his death lacks great significance argue that U.S. and allied actions had eroded OBL’s ability to provide direction and support to Al Qaeda (AQ). For these analysts, OBL’s influence declined following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to a point where prior to his death he was the figurehead of an ideological movement. This argument reasons that a shift of terrorist capability has occurred away from the core of AQ to affiliated organizations. Still others argue that OBL pursued a strategy of developing the AQ organization into an ideological movement thus making it more difficult to defeat. They contend that, even if OBL were no longer involved in the decision-making apparatus of AQ, his role as the inspirational leader of the organization was far more important than any operational advice he might offer. As such, his death may not negatively affect the actions of the ideological adherents of AQ and as a martyr he may attract and inspire a greater number of followers.
Individuals suggesting that his death is a major turning point in U.S. counterterrorism efforts contend that OBL remained an active participant in setting a direction for the strategy and operations of AQ and its affiliates. In addition to disrupting AQ’s organizational activities some believe his death may serve as a defining moment for the post 9/11 global counterterrorism campaign as current and potential terrorists, other governments, and entities that wish to threaten U.S. interests will take note of the U.S. success in achieving a long-held security goal. The death of OBL may have near and long-term implications for AQ and U.S. security strategies and policies.
The degree to which OBL’s death will affect AQ and how the U.S. responds to this event may shape the future of many U.S. national security activities. Implications and possible considerations for Congress related to the U.S. killing of OBL in Pakistan are addressed in this report. As applicable, questions related to the incident and U.S. policy implications are also offered. They address:
- Implications for AQ (core, global affiliates, and unaffiliated adherents)
- Congressional Notification
- Legal Considerations
- National Security Considerations and Implications for the Homeland
- Military Considerations
- Implications for Pakistan and Afghanistan
- Implications for U.S. Security Interests and Foreign Policy Considerations
The death of OBL is multi-faceted topic with information emerging frequently that adds perspective and context to many of the issues discussed in this report. This report is based on open-source information and will be updated as necessary.
Project BioShield: Authorities, Appropriations, Acquisitions, and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)
In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276) to encourage the private sector to develop medical countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents and to provide a novel mechanism for federal acquisition of those newly developed countermeasures. Although some countermeasures have been acquired through this law, Congress continues to address several Project BioShield-related policy issues. These include whether to continue diverting Project BioShield acquisition funding to other purposes; whether to change the countermeasure development and acquisition process; how to replace stockpiled countermeasures as they expire; and whether to alter federal efforts to encourage the development of broad-spectrum countermeasures.
This law provides three main authorities: (1) relaxing regulatory requirements for some CBRN terrorism-related spending, including hiring personnel and awarding research grants; (2) guaranteeing a federal market for new CBRN medical countermeasures; and (3) permitting emergency use of unapproved countermeasures. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used each of these authorities. The HHS used expedited review authorities to approve contracts and grants related to CBRN countermeasure research and development. The HHS used the authority to guarantee a government market to obligate approximately $2 billion to acquire countermeasures against anthrax, botulism, radiation, and smallpox. The HHS has also employed the emergency use authority several times, including during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-90) advance- appropriated $5.593 billion for FY2004 to FY2013 for CBRN countermeasures acquisition through Project BioShield. Subsequent Congresses have removed $1.176 billion from this account through rescissions and transfers, more than 20% of the advance appropriation. The transfers from this account supported countermeasure advanced development, pandemic influenza preparedness and response, and basic research. The Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1), as passed by the House, would transfer an additional $188 million out of this account for advanced countermeasure development. The President’s FY2012 budget requests a transfer of $765 million out of this account to support countermeasure advanced development and to establish a medical countermeasure strategic investment corporation.
Since passing the Project BioShield Act, subsequent Congresses have considered additional measures to further encourage countermeasure development. The 109th Congress created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in HHS through the Pandemic and All-Hazard Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417). Among other duties, BARDA oversees all of HHS’s Project BioShield procurements. The Pandemic and All-Hazard Preparedness Act also modified the Project BioShield procurement process. Some stakeholders question whether these changes have sufficiently improved federal countermeasure development and procurement. The Administration plans to improve the countermeasure research, development, and acquisition process based on the findings of an HHS review.
Mathematically Modeling Inhalational Anthrax
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Homeland Security Research)
This report describes how biological data/information is being used to produce mathematical models of disease progression, and how such models serve to guide further experiments aimed at characterizing the risk of inhalational anthrax to man.
+ Full Paper (American Society for Microbiology)
Drinking Water Security and Public Health Disease Outbreak Surveillance (PDF)
Source: Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest
The US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the distribution system, rather than the source, is the point at which our drinking water is most vulnerable to acts of deliberate contamination. Therefore, they have directed that prototypes be developed to test the feasibility of novel approaches to contamination detection that employ existing water sensors and public health surveillance systems. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is developing such a prototype that employs novel clustering and Bayesian network analysis to address the challenges of synthesizing disparate data types with different acquisition rates and with complex environmental and operational responses into a system that can provide the user with a measure of the likelihood of a waterborne disease outbreak. This paper describes these data challenges and how this novel approach and its components address them..,