6
Recommendations

Major Recommendations

Six key recommendations included in previous chapters concerning future Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) activities in preventing the proliferation of biological weapons are set forth below. These recommendations build on past BTRP investments and reflect lessons learned during the development and implementation of BTRP. Adoption of these recommendations by the White House and the Department of Defense (DOD) would improve the efficiency of the program and significantly increase the positive impacts of BTRP on national security during the next phase of the program.

The U.S. government should provide strong and sustained support for BTRP and related programs. Past U.S. government investments in BTRP have provided substantial benefits to national security; however, the task of preventing proliferation of biological weapons has just begun. There are many opportunities for future contributions by BTRP, the largest U.S. program for preventing proliferation of biological weapons (see Chapter 2, page 31).

The White House should exert strong leadership to ensure integration of BTRP with related biological threat reduction activities supported by the U.S. government. Other U.S. government departments have unique capabilities and have international partners with similar interests; therefore, they have comparative advantages that should complement the strengths of BTRP in pursuing different types of biological engagement. The interests of many departments are sufficiently important and diverse to warrant coordination at the highest levels. (see Chapter 3, page 54).

BTRP should be transformed from a Washington-directed program of assistance to a genuinely collaborative program of partnerships with governments of the states of the former Soviet Union, built on strong relationships between important scientific, public health, and agriculture institutions and specialists in these states and counterparts in the United States. Should BTRP expand into other geographical areas, collaboration rather than assistance should be a guiding principle whenever possible. Development of true partnerships is essential to maximize the benefits to the United States and partner countries from program activities and to set the stage for sustaining program activities initiated through BTRP. Partnerships help ensure transparency and encourage colleagues to assume responsibility for introducing and maintaining appropriate biosecurity procedures (see Chapter 5, page 69).

BTRP should give greater emphasis to a comprehensive, multifaceted approach to international engagement for achieving biosecurity, public health, and agriculture objectives. The approach should include development of countermeasures to bioterrorism, enhanced facility security, collaborative surveillance activities, expanded cooperative research, development of common biosafety procedures, adoption of good laboratory practices and good manufacturing practices, development of human resources, and related activities. Short-term biosecurity payoffs will result from enhanced physical security systems. However, investments in the human resources infrastructure will be even more important not only in enhancing capabilities to respond promptly to and diagnose the nature of



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The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense|From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships 6 Recommendations Major Recommendations Six key recommendations included in previous chapters concerning future Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) activities in preventing the proliferation of biological weapons are set forth below. These recommendations build on past BTRP investments and reflect lessons learned during the development and implementation of BTRP. Adoption of these recommendations by the White House and the Department of Defense (DOD) would improve the efficiency of the program and significantly increase the positive impacts of BTRP on national security during the next phase of the program. The U.S. government should provide strong and sustained support for BTRP and related programs. Past U.S. government investments in BTRP have provided substantial benefits to national security; however, the task of preventing proliferation of biological weapons has just begun. There are many opportunities for future contributions by BTRP, the largest U.S. program for preventing proliferation of biological weapons (see Chapter 2, page 31). The White House should exert strong leadership to ensure integration of BTRP with related biological threat reduction activities supported by the U.S. government. Other U.S. government departments have unique capabilities and have international partners with similar interests; therefore, they have comparative advantages that should complement the strengths of BTRP in pursuing different types of biological engagement. The interests of many departments are sufficiently important and diverse to warrant coordination at the highest levels. (see Chapter 3, page 54). BTRP should be transformed from a Washington-directed program of assistance to a genuinely collaborative program of partnerships with governments of the states of the former Soviet Union, built on strong relationships between important scientific, public health, and agriculture institutions and specialists in these states and counterparts in the United States. Should BTRP expand into other geographical areas, collaboration rather than assistance should be a guiding principle whenever possible. Development of true partnerships is essential to maximize the benefits to the United States and partner countries from program activities and to set the stage for sustaining program activities initiated through BTRP. Partnerships help ensure transparency and encourage colleagues to assume responsibility for introducing and maintaining appropriate biosecurity procedures (see Chapter 5, page 69). BTRP should give greater emphasis to a comprehensive, multifaceted approach to international engagement for achieving biosecurity, public health, and agriculture objectives. The approach should include development of countermeasures to bioterrorism, enhanced facility security, collaborative surveillance activities, expanded cooperative research, development of common biosafety procedures, adoption of good laboratory practices and good manufacturing practices, development of human resources, and related activities. Short-term biosecurity payoffs will result from enhanced physical security systems. However, investments in the human resources infrastructure will be even more important not only in enhancing capabilities to respond promptly to and diagnose the nature of

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The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense|From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships outbreaks, but also in spreading a culture of responsible behavior by researchers throughout the world. The involvement of key U.S. facilities and personnel in BTRP programs is a unique opportunity to achieve multiplier effects through other programs (see Chapter 5, page 72). DOD should work through existing scientific networks and establish new models as appropriate to reinvigorate BTRP in Russia by supporting cost-shared collaborative research projects, scientific conferences, and other scientific activities that promote both Russian and U.S. national security interests through engagement of outstanding established and young scientists in the two countries. To this end, a competitive grants program funded by BTRP that initially emphasizes collaborative projects sited in Russia and then expands to other countries should be considered. The biological assets of Russia, a country spanning a large portion of the earth’s land mass, are too important not to include them in future BTRP activities, using well-established mechanisms for engagement that circumvent the need for formal agreements with recalcitrant Russian ministries. The benefits of engaging Russian scientists have been repeatedly demonstrated through BTRP and related programs and the challenge is to regain lost program momentum by using a variety of approaches to scientific engagement that are acceptable in Russia (see Chapter 5, page 74). To improve program management, DOD/DTRA should ensure availability of adequate internal technical staffing for BTRP and should recognize that while there is a need for commercial integrating contractors for construction projects, assistance in management of research projects and related training programs can be more appropriately provided by government, academic, or nonprofit organizations. Strengthened internal BTRP staff capabilities are essential to reduce the outsourcing to commercial contractors of contacts with important foreign participants and of key technical judgments about program directions and program results. Excessive outsourcing of activities to contractors has led to misunderstandings and has raised concerns within the United States and abroad over costs, quality, and U.S. motivations for BTRP (see Chapter 4, page 64 through 65). Additional Priority Recommendations The following six issues are directly related to the major recommendations set forth above, and they warrant priority attention for BTRP programming (page number is cited with each): Collaborative development of a country science plan for each country where BTRP has activities. The plan should provide a shared vision of the goals of the program and a framework for activities that reflect priority interests of partner governments as well as achievement of BTRP objectives (page 40). Joint strategic planning for proposed national central reference laboratories (CRLs), which may cost $60 million each to build and equip. The laboratories should provide services of importance for improvement of public health and agriculture that are not only cost effective but also outweigh the possibility that the facilities might be misused due to unanticipated political developments in the region (page 40).

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The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense|From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships An early region-wide evaluation of the health and agriculture benefits of the Threat Agent Detection and Response (TADR) network that is being established initially in Georgia to help ensure that similar BTRP investments in other countries are well targeted and result in discernible benefits that will encourage future local investments. Of special importance is the eventual integration of the TADR network with existing national and regional surveillance networks within the participating countries (page 40). Joint programs to ensure that important pathogen strains that can be obtained within the region are available at local facilities to international investigators. This availability will reduce the need for controversial transfers of such strains to the United States that raise questions over BTRP objectives (pages 40 through 41). Inclusion in the authorizing legislation for BTRP of an explicit provision that helps ensure that BTRP will engage other U.S. government departments with specialized expertise and experience in BTRP activities as appropriate and provide them with the financial resources to this end when necessary (page 41). A competitive research grants program funded by BTRP that initially emphasizes projects sited in Russia and then expands to other countries of interest. The emphasis should be on high impact research activities jointly funded with foreign partners (pages 74 through 75). Other Recommendations The previous chapters identify a large number of other activities that deserve greater support by BTRP, other departments and agencies, and foreign partners in the future. They are very briefly summarized as follows (page number is cited with each): Security Upgrades at Facilities (Physical Systems and Personnel) Realistic less-than-perfect physical security systems (page 64) Detailed on-the-ground facility assessments (page 34) Selection of facilities for upgrades based on both security vulnerabilities and importance in national biological activities (page 23) Competition among facilities for selection for BTRP upgrades (page 60) Expert assessments of strain consolidation (pages 34 through 35) Greater counterpart management responsibilities for facility upgrading (page 61) Timely training of personnel for utilization of upgraded facilities (page 36) Improving, but not ignoring, previous security training of counterparts (page 34) TADR Expanding the list of disease agents of interest to TADR (page 35) Country-by-country studies of TADR benefits (pages 35 through 36) Reducing the likelihood of false alarms in the TADR network (page 36) Partial U.S. ownership of CRLs (page 71)

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The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense|From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships Cooperative Research Continued focus on applied research programs supported by BTRP (page 40) Increased percentage of BTRP research funds for foreign partners (page 38) Greater emphasis on supporting non-weapon scientists (page 61) Improved quality of research proposals (page 63) Linking strong and weak local research groups (page 56) Access to information on local pathogen collections (page 63) Early attention to animal welfare issues (pages 62 through 63) Improved understanding by counterparts of intellectual property rights (page 63) Instruction by American academics in research management (page 65) BTRP adoption of USDA collaborator model (page 74) BTRP financial support of American collaborators (page 74) Cooperation between U.S. and Russian consortia of research laboratories (page 76) BTRP outreach to U.S. scientific community (page 58) Flow of results of nonproliferation research programs to other U.S. programs (page 45) Interagency Coordination National Security Council-led working group on biological security and nonproliferation (pages 53 through 54) Annual interagency report of biological nonproliferation programs (page 53) Assessments and Studies Improved use of metrics (page 62) More intensive evaluations of BTRP (page 12) Adoption of public health “needs assessments” methodology (page 35) Assessments of vulnerabilities of potential interest to hostile groups (pages 55 through 56) Documentation of achievements of non-proliferation programs (page 45) Studies of relevant foreign assistance programs and programs of international organizations (page 12) Administrative Issues Need to augment BTRP staff (page 65)

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The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense|From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships Visa delays (page 63) Reducing delays and misunderstandings during DOD approval and implementation procedures (pages 63 through 64) Other G-8 global partnership as a forum for dissemination of BTRP experience (page 72) Clarification of BTRP objectives for program participants (pages 59 through 60) Involvement of younger counterpart scientists and students in BTRP (page 60) BTRP cooperation with private companies (pages 69 through 70) BTRP support of information technology networks (pages 76 through 77) A First Step Toward Global Engagement in the Biosciences and Biotechnology As biotechnology capabilities continue to spread throughout the world, opportunities for misuse of biology that can seriously harm U.S. interests at home and abroad are rapidly growing. Of course, current U.S. government programs for redirecting former weapon scientists in the former Soviet Union to peaceful pursuits and for upgrading the security of facilities in that region and elsewhere which house dangerous pathogen strains are very important. But they are only a beginning. Potential problems associated with the spread of dual-use technologies are so widespread that global engagement which enhances transparency and promotes common interests in preventing diseases on a broad basis is essential. To this end, BTRP can and should play a central role in supporting development of international networks of institutions and specialists with common interests in biological research, public health, agriculture, and biosecurity. They are an essential mechanism in building trust among governments engaged in activities with dual-use dimensions and in providing insights as to intentions of colleagues at the facility level. In short, U.S. security interests can be served in many ways by a robust and broadly based BTRP approach.

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