knowledge needed to understand the specific nature of various risks. Much of this concern may stem from inspectors not sufficiently familiar with the nature of BSAT research. These challenges are even more severe for those government agencies that do not focus on select agent facilities but have a responsibility for inspecting them.
RECOMMENDATION 8: Inspectors of select agent laboratories should have scientific and laboratory knowledge and experience, as well as appropriate training in conducting inspections specific to BSAT research. Inspector training and practice should be harmonized across federal, state, local, and other agencies.
Security and compliance procedures called for under the Select Agent Program can be significant, with costs substantially higher than for similar laboratory facilities. Security guards, cameras, access card readers, biometric identification technologies, alarms, lockable freezers and incubators, and other security measures all add to the cost of operating a select agent laboratory.
Construction of secure laboratories where select agent research will be conducted is often funded by grants specific for that purpose. But select agent laboratories have significant ongoing security and safety sustainment costs that far exceed the indirect costs that grantee institutions receive to cover the costs of facilities, maintenance, and operations.
The implications of sustainable funding required to conduct select agent research are troubling. It is not acceptable, either for the institution or for safety and security, to diminish appropriate and necessary risk-based security procedures and resources, regardless of the availability of funding for the facility. The committee urges federal agencies that fund BSAT research to establish dedicated funding for ongoing security and compliance responsibilities associated with this type of research. This is an essential obligation, and no facility should operate without appropriate security measures in place. Although this type of funding structure may be unusual for biomedical research laboratories, it is not uncommon for funding those areas of science where central infrastructure plays an important role.
RECOMMENDATION 9: Because of considerable security and compliance costs associated with research on biological select agents and toxins, federal agencies funding BSAT research should establish a separate category of funding to ensure sustained support for facilities where such research is conducted.