Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., were joined by a broad-based and bipartisan group of Senate and House Members calling for the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the federal government’s efforts to detect and deter biological threats. The request for the investigation was cosigned by 23 Senate and House Members, including the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Science Committee.
In their request to David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the GAO, the Members pointed out that 11 federal agencies have spent or allocated more than $18 billion for biodefense research, development, testing and evaluation, “a cumulative total that includes programs focused on detection technologies.
“Having reached the fifth anniversary of the anthrax attacks, we believe Congress and the Administration would benefit from a comprehensive assessment by the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) of currently deployed airborne or environmental biological threat detection technologies and those that are planned or under development.”
Among the issues the Members asked the GAO to examine are: the government’s methodology for determining the effectiveness of biological detection technologies; the actual effectiveness of technologies under development for current and future threats; plans in place to test and evaluate new technologies; the costs associated with research and development into new technologies; and whether the government is using all resources, including private sector resources, to develop new technologies.
The full text of the letter can be found here.