Homeland Security Policy
Read and reply to the below discussion. Do you agree or not with the discussion? Why?
1. Which agency is in charge of bio-security? How are bio-security policies coordinated across the US government? Is this the most effective way to deal with threats to bio-security? If not, what is?
With the continuous emergence of previously undiscovered, non-native and easily transmissible infectious diseases bio-security remains a high priority for the DHS and partner agencies. Responsibilities for responding to, and containment of, biological outbreaks are a multifaceted endeavor which involves numerous federal departments and agencies. A majority of these responsibilities where delineated under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.
The lead agency charged with dealing with a biological incident depends upon the threat and whether or not the outbreak affects humans, agriculture, or livestock. If a pathogen has an “overlapping” ability, or the capability to jump species and infect either animals and/or humans, controlling the spread of this type of organism, such as swine flu, may involve the joint efforts of several agencies. Another key element that defines the role an agency plays in bio-security is whether a disease outbreak was a naturally occurring event or if it was an intentional malicious act. In instances where biological agents or toxins, such as Anthrax and Ricin, are used as weapons federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may be employed to track down the perpetrator(s) of such criminal activities.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is at the forefront of the bio-security effort and is the lead agency tasked with coordinating federal response to emergencies dealing with public health, including outbreaks of infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also a critical agency, falling under the operational umbrella of the HHS, and is responsible for safeguarding the public health through prevention, control and containment of infectious diseases.
Within the Department of Defense the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) conducts research to develop medical solutions including vaccines, drugs and prevention measures to protect both military personnel and civilians from the threat of infectious disease and performs research to ensure national preparedness in the event of biological terrorism and/or warfare (United States Army Medical Department, 2013). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the lead agency for biological threats that affect agricultural commodities such as livestock and/or food crops which include bovine hoof and mouth disease and various forms of crop destroying bacteria and fungi.
The ability to deal with threats to bio-security, and prevent devastating outbreaks, is an increasingly difficult proposition as globalization and free trade continues to make it difficult to detect and prevent health threats to the United States whether from emerging disease or by deliberate attack (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2010). Besides interdicting and preventing biological attacks, or naturally occurring outbreaks, the most effective and realistic method to deal with these threats may be more preventive in nature. For example, under the Project BioShield Act of 2004 the HHS began to efforts to modernize and augment the National Strategic Stockpile (NSN) of vaccines in order to immunize segments of the population against anthrax, botulism and smallpox in the event of a bio-attack (Gottron 2010, p.490). Such responses would rely upon quickly identifying potential disease outbreaks, implementing quarantines where warranted and providing immunizations to prevent it from reaching pandemic proportions.
Gottron, Frank. “Project Bioshield: Purposes and Authorities.” International Journal of Terrorism and Political Hotspots, Volume 5, Issue 3. (2010): 489-496. Accessed June 18, 2013, https://web.ebscohost.com
United States Department of Homeland Security. (2010, February). Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland. Accessed July 4, 2013,
United States Army Medical Department. (2013). USAMRIID: Biodefense Solutions to Protect our Nation. Accessed July 5, 2013