number of findings and recommendations related to how the training could support personnel reliability.16 These reports, as well as numerous meetings and discussions, have contributed to a lively and sometimes heated discussion of appropriate approaches to optimizing the security and the quality of BSAT research.


The NRC appointed a committee with a broad range of expertise to carry out its statement of task, which is reproduced in Box 1-2 (short biographies of the committee members and project staff are contained in Appendix A).

The committee focused its attention on the environments in which BSAT research is conducted, which are a subset of the facilities cleared to work with select agents and toxins. While other entities such as state and local public health laboratories are subject to the select agent regulations, most do not have research as their primary focus.

The committee carried out its work over approximately 3½ months, with two in-person meetings and several site visits, as well as conference calls to begin and conclude its work. A list of the meetings and site visits, including the briefings received by the committee, are contained in Appendix B. The committee considered not only the experiences of select agent laboratories, but also related experiences in other sectors including nuclear power plants, academic nuclear research reactors, and the aviation industry—all of which have been concerned about personnel reliability for some time.

In the end, time constraints meant that the committee could not give equal attention to all elements of its task. Therefore the committee decided to concentrate on a set of issues that it believes are the most important, most critical, and most effective for both providing security and enabling the highest quality research to be carried out in an environment that can attract and retain the best scientists. The focus of the report was also informed by the elements that had prompted the greatest amount of discussion within the scientific community and at the public consultations organized by the NSABB and EO Working Group. There are two other items that elicited significant interest in the public consultations but that could not be considered in this report. The committee believes these are essential to the safe conduct of BSAT research, but time did not allow a thorough review and assessment:

  • Transportation of Select Agents Some have identified transportation of select agents and toxins as the weak link in security procedures. Agents taken from one highly secure facility to another may be at risk for


The term “dual use” refers to research that, although carried out for beneficial purposes, could yield knowledge, tools, or techniques with the potential to be misused to cause deliberate harm.

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