Results demanded of government biothreat programs

At this week's Homeland Security budget hearing, Congressman David Price noted his concern about two programs meant to track and alter biothreats.

Price said that both BioWatch and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center have been constantly beset with difficulties. The programs were created by the Department of Homeland Security to inform both state and local governments as well as the federal government of potential and impending bioattacks.

The National Biosurveillance Integration Center was created to serve as an information collection and sharing hub for data on biothreats to be utilized by all levels of government. Biowatch's system currently utilizes detectors in over 30 cities nationwide.

Price, who represents North Carolina's 4th district and serves as the chairman of the Office of Health Affairs, told the Homeland Security budget hearing that before money can comfortably be granted to BioWatch, the program's cost must be proven. The funding requests for BioWatch would double its budget.

Price also criticized the National Biosurveillance Integration Center, saying that it has yet to reach its full potential and calling for the program to revamp its strategy. The budget for the program is set to be cut by $1 million this year.

Price called making the correct investments in these programs critical to detecting biological events.