Health Experts Analyze the Effects of Increased Federal Funding on State Bioterrorism Preparedness

Development of policies and programs for improving homeland security

The Century Foundation commissioned two background papers and convened a working group of 18 public health experts and state and local public health officials — the Working Group on Bioterrorism Preparedness — to study the ramifications of the increase in federal funding to state and local governments that followed the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States.

The working group produced a final report — Breathing Easier? The Report of The Century Foundation Working Group on Bioterrorism Preparedness — that articulated recommendations suggesting how bioterrorism funding can strengthen the nation's public health system. It is available online.

Key Recommendations

Among the recommendations in Breathing Easier? are the following:

  • The federal government should define public health preparedness more clearly and develop minimum national standards.
  • Federal and state public health officials, in cooperation with experts in public health, should define what local public health capabilities should be.
  • Laws governing how responses to public health emergencies and public health investigations are conducted must be modernized.
  • The public health workforce needs to be enlarged and its skills upgraded.
  • To sustain improvements in the public health system, the flow of federal and state funding must continue without interruption.
  • A balance must be struck between preparing for a biological attack and maintaining and expanding other vital functions of the public health system.

This effort was part of the Century Foundation's Homeland Security Project, a broader study initiated shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and supported by several foundations. It aimed at informing the public and the policy-making community about the complex challenges related to preventing, and responding to, domestic terrorism.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the work of the Working Group on Bioterrorism Preparedness from December 2002 through November 2004 with a $100,000 unsolicited grant.