FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Aaron, SRA Communications, (717) 554-8614, steve@SRACommunications.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 15, 2019) –Yesterday, members of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill and thanked members of Congress for passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. The Act requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a crosscutting analysis of all federal funding for biodefense programs. Such analysis should display all funds requested for mandatory and discretionary biodefense activities by agency.
“This crosscut analysis is absolutely critical. Both Congress and the Administration need to understand where the Federal government is investing in biodefense and where we may have gaps and redundancies. As we explain in our report on Budget Reform for Biodefense, this information should be used to develop an integrated biodefense budget that will increase US return on investment” said former Senator Joe Lieberman, Co-Chair of the Panel. “We applaud lawmakers for including this language in the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act and believe that after the establishment of the National Biodefense Strategy, this is a logical next step towards ensuring our national public health security.”
“Our Panel is now in its fifth year examining this critically important issue,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, Co-Chair of the Panel. “We have identified systemic weaknesses in national biodefense and recommended 33 specific steps the government can take to overcome these challenges. The crosscut analysis – part of the fourth recommendation in our Blueprint for Biodefense – will allow the Administration and Congress to make smarter decisions and necessary management and funding adjustments.”
National Security Presidential Memorandum 14 on the Support for National Biodefense signed by President Trump requires agencies to submit biodefense budget data to OMB, and the Act passed by Congress requires OMB to conduct a crosscut of that information. This will, in turn, be used to help inform implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy and assist in determining capability and programmatic gaps.
About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel’s 2015 report, National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. The Panel’s 2018 report, Budget Reform for Biodefense: Integrated Budget Needed to Increase Return on Investment, found that the ad hoc and stove piped approach to budgeting across multiple federal agencies is preventing strategic, long-term, and cohesive progress toward bolstering America’s vulnerable biodefense posture. In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the Blueprint. The Panel continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Panel, and are joined by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco. Hudson Institute is the Panel’s fiscal sponsor.