5
Policy and Program Coordination and Integration

This chapter expands on the earlier discussions of the significance of active participation by representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in a variety of biosecurity coordination activities. An important goal of coordination is to firmly embed the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) within an integrated U.S. government-wide approach to biological threat reduction. In some countries, BTRP could have the lead among U.S. agencies. In other countries, it might more appropriately play a supporting role. In either case, the significance of coordination is underscored by a broad consensus within the U.S. government that biological threats, both those attributable to nature and those that could be instigated by bioterrorists, can seriously affect both broad U.S. security interests and narrower program interests of several departments and agencies.

Only the Department of State and DOD have substantial funding (in the tens of millions of dollars or more annually) that is devoted explicitly to countering the threat of bioterrorism in developing countries. As has been repeatedly underscored throughout this report, however, local capabilities to counter natural disease outbreaks are in many ways the same capabilities that are needed to counter bioterrorism. Other U.S. government departments and agencies have a responsibility and significant funding to work with foreign partners in combating infectious diseases brought on by nature—particularly the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thus, bringing together in a coherent manner the activities of the wide range of government programs that are devoted to strengthening important aspects of local biosecurity capabilities is a central challenge in developing an integrated program of biological threat reduction.

This report assumes that the relevant coordination mechanisms that have



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5 Policy and Program Coordination and Integration This chapter expands on the earlier discussions of the significance of active participation by representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in a variety of biosecurity coordination activities. An important goal of coordination is to firmly embed the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) within an integrated U.S. government-wide approach to biological threat reduction. In some countries, BTRP could have the lead among U.S. agencies. In other countries, it might more appropriately play a supporting role. In either case, the significance of coordination is under- scored by a broad consensus within the U.S. government that biological threats, both those attributable to nature and those that could be instigated by bioter- rorists, can seriously affect both broad U.S. security interests and narrower program interests of several departments and agencies. Only the Department of State and DOD have substantial funding (in the tens of millions of dollars or more annually) that is devoted explicitly to countering the threat of bioterrorism in developing countries. As has been repeatedly underscored throughout this report, however, local capabilities to counter natural disease outbreaks are in many ways the same capabilities that are needed to counter bioterrorism. Other U.S. government departments and agencies have a responsibility and significant funding to work with foreign partners in combating infectious diseases brought on by nature—particularly the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thus, bringing together in a coherent manner the activities of the wide range of government programs that are devoted to strengthening important aspects of local biosecurity capabilities is a central challenge in developing an integrated program of biological threat reduction. This report assumes that the relevant coordination mechanisms that have 

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 COUNTERING BIOLOGICAL THREATS been mandated by legislation, executive orders, and other White House direc- tives will remain in place. It is not possible to predict changes that may be intro- duced by the new administration and the new Congress and how they might be implemented. Also, important U.S. nongovernmental organizations are carrying out extensive studies of approaches to reforming the overall national security framework with particular emphasis on coordination. For example, studies with active participation by congressional staffs are devoted to restructuring the responsibilities of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC), as well as establishing a select committee for national security within Congress. In particular, the report of the Project on National Security Reform, Forging a New Shield (November 2008, Washington, D.C.: Center for the Study of the Presidency), addresses such issues. In any event, an analysis of possible changes in the structure and responsibilities of organizations within the executive branch or Congress is beyond the scope of this study. At the same time, the suggestions that are presented in this report should be adapt- able to almost any structure that could be put in place in the near future. VENUES FOR COORDINATION IN WASHINGTON Interagency coordination involving issues of interest to BTRP takes place in many settings, usually under the auspices of Congress, the NSC, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, DOD, other government departments, and U.S. embassies. International venues that provide opportunities for meetings with representatives of international organizations and other countries that sup- port relevant activities in developing countries are also important. Coordination within the developing countries themselves, where many external organizations are usually active, is crucial. As the BTRP budget continues to grow, Congress has taken an increasing interest in the interfaces between BTRP and related programs. Congressional hearings have included discussions of coordination of biological programs within DOD. Regarding coordination with other U.S. government departments, Congress requested that, as one step, this report should address BTRP’s partici- pation in the integration of programs across the government. At the same time, DOD has provided Congress, other departments, and the public with detailed information about BTRP activities and future plans. Such information sharing is an important step in encouraging coordination. The NSC will undoubtedly continue to serve as a principal interagency policy coordination mechanism for international biosecurity-related activities. In 2004, the President approved the establishment of a biodefense policy to be carried out under the leadership of the NSC and HSC.1 Within the framework 1 Biodefense for the 21st Century. 2004. Washington, D.C.: White House Press Office. Available online at www.whitehouse.go/homeland/0000.html. Accessed November 29, 2008.

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 POLICY AND PROGRAM COORDINATION AND INTEGRATION of this policy, a Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) has been established and is jointly chaired by representatives of the two councils. A working panel of the PCC considers international bioengagement, including the preparation of country-specific overview documents that address the threats and types of responses that are needed in these countries. In support of this effort, studies are under way within the intelligence community to identify the developing countries of highest-priority biosecurity concern in terms of U.S. interests. A significant aspect of the PCC is the inclusion of USAID as an active par- ticipant in its deliberations. The Department of State, DOD, HHS, USDA, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency have for sev- eral years comprised a core group of nonproliferation departments and agencies in the biological field. Involvement of USAID should improve assessments of on-the-ground conditions in developing countries and open new opportunities for partnerships within the U.S. government. Also, USAID has a long-term outlook and should be an effective advocate for sustainability of activities initi- ated by other departments and agencies. See Appendix I for a complete list of the participants in the international bioengagement panel. The addition of the Department of Treasury to the panel would also be appropriate. Such representation would provide an important link to the World Bank and other international development banks. These international financial institutions play major roles in strengthening important health and agriculture infrastructures in developing countries. Stimulation by the HSC of greater interest in international biosecurity within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could facilitate transfer of international experience and knowledge to the specialists responsible for pro- tecting the United States while encouraging international adoption of selected biosecurity approaches developed for domestic application, such as risk assess- ment methodologies. In particular, Mexico’s expanding interest in biotechnol- ogy should be of considerable interest. While there is no available evidence that drug smuggling routes from Latin to North America have been used for illicit trafficking in dangerous pathogens, this possibility cannot be dismissed. Also, the smuggling into the United States of plant disease agents buried in small containers of soil aboard an airplane from anywhere in the world, which is a shared concern of USDA and DHS, could threaten agriculture production. Another coordination mechanism that brings together departments and agencies is the Nonproliferation Interagency Policy Roundtable (NIPR), which is chaired by the Department of State. This group reviews cooperative biologi- cal research projects being considered by U.S. government agencies (primarily the State Department and BTRP) that engage scientists from the former Soviet Union (FSU). These research proposals have usually involved scientists or insti- tutions that had been associated with the Soviet biological weapons program. All proposed research projects to be supported by BTRP must have inter- agency approval through NIPR, which concentrates on dual-use concerns.

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 COUNTERING BIOLOGICAL THREATS Should BTRP expand to other countries, such an interagency review will pre- sumably apply to projects involving scientists in these countries as well. Recently, BTRP has broadened the scope of its research activities to include FSU scientists who have the capability to handle dangerous pathogens on the Select Agent List, regardless of whether they had previously been engaged in weapons-related activities. This is a welcome development that recognizes that nonweapons scientists with certain skills should be of concern comparable to the attention given to possible inappropriate activities of former weapons scien- tists. This approach has special significance for sponsoring research in countries outside the FSU that were never involved in biological weapons activities. A third coordination mechanism is the International Biological Engage- ment Backstopping Group, which is convened by the Department of State. This information-sharing group meets monthly. About 40 officials from a variety of departments and agencies typically attend. In addition to shared concerns about proliferation and bioterrorism, BTRP’s interests intersect with three other types of activities of other U.S. government departments and agencies. Overlaps of BTRP projects with devel- opment assistance activities have been repeatedly mentioned in this report. In addition, government departments and agencies that promote U.S. private-sec- tor investments abroad and influence international trade activities can indirectly contribute to biological threat reduction, as discussed in Chapter 4. Finally, U.S. organizations that are responsible for supporting international engage- ment to enhance scientific interests of the United States have some common objectives with BTRP. This broad mosaic of overlapping interests provides opportunities for synergism that can contribute to the achievement of multiple government objectives. DOD should be represented in relevant interagency discussions at a sufficiently senior level to ensure that its representatives can speak authori- tatively on behalf of BTRP and other DOD entities that support biosecurity- related programs. Finally, with regard to coordination within DOD, for years there have been internal mechanisms within DOD to develop general guidance for clusters of DOD activities. Many of the health-oriented activities are carried out under the general purview of DOD’s Office of Health Affairs. The Veterinary Corps of the Army has a well-developed strategy coordinated throughout DOD that guides its worldwide activities. DOD’s overseas research laboratories report to a central coordinating office. Each combatant command has a senior medical officer and staff that could provide a focal point for periodic meetings with BTRP, which should add cohesion to the overall DOD, and indeed the national, effort. BTRP has not been a central participant in the foregoing efforts within DOD. But it has recently increased its attention to the importance of coordi- nation throughout the Pentagon. Meanwhile, DOD has established on paper

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 POLICY AND PROGRAM COORDINATION AND INTEGRATION a steering group chaired jointly by the assistant secretary for global security affairs and the assistant secretary for health affairs to bring greater cohesion to the diverse DOD interests in biological threat reduction and related topics. BTRP presumably was to be included in these activities, but effective coordina- tion has yet to emerge. Given the foregoing discussion, two recommendations are important in helping to ensure coordination of BTRP activities. Recommendation 5-1: DOD should ensure that the interests of BTRP, as well as other DOD entities, are adequately represented at an appropriate level in a variety of biology-relevant interagency coordination mechanisms that are led by the National Security Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, other White House offices, and the Department of State. Recommendation 5-2: As BTRP expands the geographic coverage of its activi- ties, DOD should ensure more systematic interactions among the many DOD units with biology-related programs in developing countries. STRENGTHENING BTRP’S COORDINATION WITH ITS PARTNERS At the program level, BTRP transfers funds to other U.S. government departments and agencies and to private-sector entities. This approach allows BTRP to draw on their resources in enabling BTRP to carry out its activities. It also helps ensure that the recipient organizations are aware of the interfaces of their own activities with BTRP interests. Of course, these transfers are year-to- year, so the recipients have difficulties in planning for long-term involvement of key specialists. BTRP shares information on successes, difficulties, and lessons learned, while obtaining insights as to the activities of other organizations, through a variety of mechanisms. The mechanisms have included the organization of and participation in technical meetings at home and abroad and regular consulta- tions with other important organizations. BTRP’s partners are ever expanding in number, as indicated in Appendix D, and this is a positive step. Coordination at both the global and the regional levels concerning inter- national assistance efforts is also important. They include, for example, the biosecurity efforts of a variety of international organizations, as discussed in Chapter 4. Also, the international development focus of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD), including its Develop- ment Assistance Committee and its International Futures and Biotechnology activities, can be helpful to BTRP. OECD is a hub of relevant information and can assist BTRP in keeping abreast of meetings, studies, reports, and other undertakings of interest.

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 COUNTERING BIOLOGICAL THREATS Drawing on the capabilities and reputations of HHS and USDA deserves special attention. By involving these departments, BTRP should be able not only to expand its capabilities but also to build stronger relationships with governments in developing countries that may be uncertain about the inten- tions of DOD. To the extent possible, BTRP activities should be integrated with activities supported financially by the other departments themselves. However, if necessary, BTRP should finance the contributions provided by the other departments. In view of the foregoing discussion, the following recommendation is par- ticularly appropriate. Recommendation 5-3: The authors of the National Defense Authorization Act should include in the act a provision calling on DOD to utilize as appropri- ate the capabilities of other U.S. government departments and agencies, and particularly HHS and USDA, to assist in the development and implementation of BTRP activities. To this end, the act should recognize the importance of transfers of BTRP’s resources to these organizations as necessary and should call for BTRP to provide Congress within its annual reports information on the extent and effectiveness of such transfers. COORDINATION IN THE FIELD The importance of BTRP’s coordination in the field as well as coordina- tion in the capitals of providers of international assistance is clear. Dozens of assistance providers, dozens of important international companies, and dozens of nongovernmental organizations concerned with health and agriculture have deep roots in the developing countries and are active in the biosciences. There- fore, special efforts should be coordinated in the field where activities are being planned or are under way. In the field, coordination mechanisms that are established by the host governments themselves, with or without international assistance, can be help- ful—and in some cases essential—in ensuring that activities are complementary. Unfortunately, however, many developing-country governments do not have capabilities even to keep track of all foreign interventions in biology-related activities, let alone effectively influence how these interventions are carried out. The coordination mechanism may be simply one overworked staff member in the ministry for economic development, for example. Indeed, the coordination task for a country with limited personnel capa- bilities is often very difficult. For example, there are more than a dozen donors and several dozen nongovernmental organizations with international affilia- tions that are addressing public health issues in Cambodia. Nevertheless, host governments such as the Cambodian government should have the best possible

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 POLICY AND PROGRAM COORDINATION AND INTEGRATION overviews, however incomplete, of the totality of both local and international activities that are relevant to biosecurity interests in their countries. Finally, and of great importance, many U.S. ambassadors in developing countries are active in bringing coherence to the overall U.S. government-sup- ported approaches in the health and agricultural fields. But they simply may not think of BTRP as contributing to basic health and agriculture needs. When such an omission is the reality, it needs correction. Recommendation 5-4: BTRP should ensure that its activities are an integral component of the coordination portfolios of U.S. ambassadors in countries where BTRP has activities. To this end, BTRP representatives have the task of not only educating the embassy staffs on the scope and importance of biosecurity but also emphasizing how the embassy can benefit diplomatically from the program—for example, by gaining insights as to important developments in the country, participating in events that recognize BTRP contributions in the country, and establish- ing stronger contacts with important biosecurity leaders of the country. The embassy should benefit from the good will that is generated by BTRP’s involve- ment in promoting overall public and agricultural health as well as enhanced security. PRIORITY FOR EFFECTIVE COORDINATION If BTRP is to have a sustained presence that is welcomed and supported by local institutions and foreign organizations, adequate coordination on the front end of involvement is essential. Such coordination should help ensure that other relevant organizations welcome and do not oppose BTRP’s presence. A positive attitude of other important external and internal leaders can return major dividends in the long run. Of course, BTRP must avoid building false expectations regarding its financial resources and its intended involvement in specific countries. Therefore, it is important to follow through on even tentative commitments if at all possible. The intersections of coordination and public relations will be of great significance in many situations. Foreign political leaders may be far more con- cerned about whether they may become embroiled in political acrimony by working inappropriately with DOD than in ensuring that the details of project design and implementation are sound. BTRP must be skillful in seeking advice from more experienced organizations and flexible in adjusting its approach as necessary. Nongovernmental organizations can often be helpful in this regard, even though BTRP has had only limited experience in the FSU in working closely with them.

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 COUNTERING BIOLOGICAL THREATS In the developing countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, early involvement of potential local partners in shaping BTRP’s activi- ties is essential. Consultations with the private sector will help BTRP expand its horizons regarding the roots and routes of bioterrorism and will also help guide innovative approaches to counter biological threats in developing countries. These countries are new terrain for BTRP, but many private-sector organiza- tions are quite familiar with this terrain. In short, BTRP needs not only to build relations with governments in countries where it will mount programs but also to strengthen the web of institutions devoted to enhancing biosecurity that stretches across and between countries. These institutions may have goals similar to those of BTRP, but they may approach them in different but innovative ways that can help guide BTRP’s approaches. Recommendation 5-5: BTRP should adopt and adapt successful approaches that have been pioneered by other organizations while developing its own niche among the many programs of other external organizations devoted to reducing biological threats in the low- and middle-income countries.