The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Thursday on the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) and identified roles and associated challenges that are essential for the center.
Among the essential functions of the NBIC are innovation, analysis and coordination. According to the NBIC, the facility should be in the development of tools to address current shortcomings of biosurveillance efforts of the federal government. These would include pilot projects on the use of social media for health trends. The GAO noted that the NBIC was limited by lacking resources and finding difficulty in prioritizing innovation efforts due to diversities in needs.
In the area of coordination, the GAO states the NBIC should be interconnected within the biosurveillance community, which would allow the institution to enhance biological event understanding. At the time of the report, the NBIC only made three dedicated partner contacts out of a potential 19 federal partners.
As an analysis performing body, the NBIC should be using the latest tools and be able to connect data sets to better serve early warning and situational awareness for biological events. Eight federal agencies that play roles in biosurveillance reported that information from the NBIC added little to their understanding of a biological event as it often contains information they had already obtained.
In its report, the GAO offered options that would allow the NBIC to better address these challenges and its overall mission. Among these are expanding the center's authority in the area of data collection and improved integration of the NBIC with other federal partners.