The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense is a privately funded entity established in 2014 to provide for a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations that will foster change. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Commission. Former Secretary and Representative Dr. Donna Shalala, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Susan Brooks, former Representative Jim Greenwood, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, and former Homeland Security Advisor Kenneth Wainstein serve as members.
From 2014-2015, the Commission convened four public meetings in Washington, DC on biological threat awareness, prevention and protection, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery. Current and former Members of Congress, former Administration officials, state and local representatives, thought leaders, and other experts provided their perspectives on current biodefense efforts, including strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. While much good work has been achieved toward biodefense, these meetings have revealed systemic challenges in the enterprise designed to protect Americans from biological events.
Through these public meetings and other research, the Commission has identified systemic weaknesses in the national biodefense posture, and recommended 33 steps the government can take to mitigate this in its report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts. The report assessed ongoing efforts; articulated actions to improve the nation’s biodefense capabilities to prevent, deter, prepare for, detect, respond to, attribute, recover from, and mitigate biological incidents; and identified near and long-term actions by current and future Congresses and Presidential Administrations. The Commission continues to advocate for uptake of these recommendations at the highest levels of American government, through additional meetings, reports, and other activities, and is the only such body of bipartisan, former high-level policymakers to do so.