National Bio-Surveillance Integration System Program has been mismanaged
Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General released a stinging new report that details serious issues facing the National Bio-Surveillance Integration System (NBIS). NBIS was launched in 2004 with the goal of integrating all of the biosurveillance programs across the US into a single system to enhance our capability to detect agents and disease trends and respond rapidly. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operates their BioSense program, to collect data on human health, but the data from that system is not integrated with data from the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch program, which is designed to detect the release of airborne biological agents. There are other surveillance systems in place and in development as well, and although you would be hard pressed to find anyone that thinks any of the systems are working optimally it is still important to try to integrate the programs into a single system (in case they ever do become robust and efficient).
The US has spent an estimated $32 billion on electronic surveillance systems and various other IT initiatives to address biodefense since 2001.
The report tells of inconsistent leadership and staffing, which has hampered NBIS delivery. In some cases many months were wasted with unnecessary administrative hurdles delaying the program. The few contracts that have been awarded under the program seem of questionable value, sometimes because the contractor was not given sufficient guidance to complete the work.
Most shocking to me was the fact that they have yet to finish a plan for implementation. The report stated plainly that, “As a result of the repeated transitions and staffing shortfalls, planning documents needed to guide information technology (IT) development have yet to be finalized. Program management has not effectively communicated and coordinated with stakeholders to secure the data, personnel, and information sharing agreements needed to support system development. Additionally, program management did not provide the contractor with adequate guidance, requirements input, or data sources to deliver a fully functional system. As such, the contractor may not fulfill NBIS capability and schedule requirements, which potentially could result in cost increases to the program.”
Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, Jeffrey Runge MD, agreed with all of the findings and recommendations in the report and provided very constructive comments that indicate a sincere willingness to improve the program and stated that many of the IG’s recommendations were already being addressed. That is the nugget of good news here.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]
A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.
In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]