BioWatch program report raises concerns
The report was completed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and raised concerns among congressional leaders regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch Program.
According to the GAO, false alarms have been an issue since its original inception in 2003. The office also states that state officials have expressed lacking confidence in the system. The BioWatch program was designed to be able to detect biological materials and issue warnings regarding potential threats.
"The GAO findings bring into focus shortcomings in the BioWatch program at a time when concerns about the threat of a bioterrorism event are elevated," Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS); and Subcommittee on Emergency, Preparedness, Response and Communication Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) said in a joint statement. “Earlier this month, the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense testified before our Committee on the threat posed by bioterrorism. They made it clear that that we must act aggressively and deliberately to bolster our ability to detect and rapidly respond to a bio-terror event. We also know terrorist groups, like ISIS, aspire to conduct attacks using biological agents. These facts make the GAO’s findings about BioWatch all the more concerning.”