New report calls for greater collaboration for biosurveillance

The Government Accountability Office's determined that the Department of Homeland Security's National Biosurveillance Integration Center does not currently have the resources it needs to carry out its primary mission - the detecion of disease outbreaks and other threats. The GAO says that the NBIC lacks the necessary data and personnel in its report, Biosurveillance: Developing a Collaboration Strategy Is Essential to Fostering Interagency Data and Resource Sharing.

NBIC's interagency partners are required by federal law to provide it with analytical expertise as well as to supply information technologies for data collection, analysis and expertise.

"However, NBIC does not receive the kind of data it has identified as most critical for supporting its early detection mission-particularly, data generated at the earliest stages of an event," the GAO report says. "In addition, NBIC has faced challenges leveraging the expertise of its federal partners."

The report says that only two of 11 agencies designated to provide NBIC with temporary personnel to increase its expertise in biosurveillance have done so.

The report recommends that the NBIC identify any challenges to collaboration in conjunction with its interagency partners. The GAO report also calls for a reiteration of a clear mission, roles and procedures to support the early detection of biothtreats. Procedures to support the early detection of biothreats should be upped as should accountability mechanisms, the report says.