GAO issues report on DOD biological threat research

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Thursday that found the Department of Defense (DoD) could do a better job of prioritizing biological threats.

The GAO said that while DoD has made progress in developing countermeasures for biological agents, it has not updated a threat priority list on an annual basis as directed by the DoD Immunization Program for Biological Warfare Defense. When DoD did update its threat priority list in 2001 and 2012, it did not accept input from stakeholders.

By not regularly updating its threat priority list, the GAO report said that the approximately $3.75 billion of funding given to DoD from 2001-2013 has not been applied to the most likely biological threats.

The report praised efforts made by DoD's Chemical and Biological Defense Program to increase transparency, allocate resources and improve coordination, including a business plan issued in 2012. DoD has also improved its efforts to coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and DHS.

The GAO analyzed DoD's budget information, policies and strategies from fiscal year 2001-2013 for the report. Interviews were also conducted with officials from DoD, HHS and DHS to develop recommendations on how to improve collaboration.

DoD agreed with the report's recommendations to improve its threat priority list, and is taking steps to update it.