GAO urges more effort to gird US infrastructure for pandemic

first_img “While some discussion has occurred, there are opportunities to further address these issues through the increased federal and private sector use of the sector-specific and cross-sector coordinating councils,” the report states. Potentially confusing and conflicting messages from the many government agencies responsible for providing information on the pandemic issue Uncertainty about federal and state roles in areas such as state border closures and pandemic flu vaccine distribution Maintaining a focus on pandemic planning, given the unpredictable timing of a pandemic and the existence of more immediate problems, such as foodborne disease outbreaks The GAO reviewed preparedness efforts in the five sectors (other than public health and healthcare) that it deems most essential to maintaining society and the economy during a pandemic: transportation, food and agriculture, water, electric power, and telecommunications. A need for more funds for training and infrastructure and dealing with potential legal and regulatory issues Nov 2, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The federal government should step up efforts to prepare the nation’s key infrastructure industries, such as energy and transportation, for an influenza pandemic, Congress’s investigative agency said in a report this week. In some cases the federal and private sectors are using the coordinating councils to cooperate on infrastructure protection, but those efforts so far focus mainly on hazards in general rather than a pandemic in particular, the report says. Yet some specific pandemic preparations are under way. For example, the Communications Sector Coordinating Council has set up a working group to address telecommuting issues. The coordinating councils are advisory groups set up by DHS to foster collaboration within and between government and the private sector to protect the nation’s “critical infrastructure.” A government coordinating council and a sector coordinating council were set up for each of 17 industrial sectors, ranging from information technology and telecommunications to water and electric power. The agency interviewed officials from the federal agencies responsible for infrastructure protection related to the five sectors and also reviewed infrastructure protection plans, regulations, and guidance. A letter from a DHS official, included in the report, says DHS concurs with the GAO recommendation. More than 85% of the nation’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, the report notes. It says that public-private partnerships are vital to ensure that essential services will continue during a pandemic or other national emergency.center_img The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released Oct 31, recommends that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take the lead in encouraging the “coordinating councils” for the infrastructure sectors to prepare for the challenges the sectors will face during a pandemic. Government and private-sector officials who were interviewed by the GAO reported a number of challenges they face in working together on pandemic preparedness: Sep 11 CIDRAP News story “GAO finds gaps in federal pandemic planning” DHS is in a good position to lead this endeavor, because it is responsible for coordinating infrastructure protection and is the lead agency for more than half of the critical industrial sectors, the GAO says. Accordingly, the agency recommends that the DHS secretary, working with other sector-specific agencies, “lead efforts to encourage the government and private sector members of the councils to consider and help address the challenges that will require coordination between the federal and private sectors involved with critical infrastructure and within the various sectors” before and during a pandemic. House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the GAO report confirmed his view that DHS should make better use of the infrastructure coordinating councils, according to a Nov 1 report by CQ Homeland Security, published by Congressional Quarterly Inc. See also: GAO report: Influenza pandemic: Opportunities exist to address critical infrastructure protection challenges that require federal and private sector coordinationhttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0836.pdf The federal government and private sector have already taken some steps to prepare the nation’s infrastructure for a pandemic, such as developing general preparedness guidance and determining the number of workers necessary to maintain operations, the GAO says. Developing strategies to address “the crucial cross-sector interdependencies” in the nation’s infrastructure, “such as the electricity and telecommunications capabilities that are necessary to support all the other sectors”last_img read more


Moyes: No more deals to be done

first_img Mata has already had a positive impact, starting the move that led to United’s opener against Cardiff on Tuesday. Yet it was the man who converted the chance, Robin van Persie, who arguably has the potential to provide the Red Devils with their biggest boost over the second half of the season. The two-time Golden Boot winner’s 11-match absence has coincided with another sharp downturn in United’s season. And, as Moyes pointed out, Van Persie’s contribution can be the significant difference in turning draws and defeats into victories. “That is why you spend the most money on centre-forwards,” said Moyes. “They are the most valued and most talked-about players. They are the people who can make a big difference by sticking the ball into the net. “Some of our performances have been quite good but the game is about winning. When you want to win, you need people like Robin van Persie, who will get you a goal. “Did I think the performance the other night was better than many of the other games? Actually, no I didn’t. What I had was people who could win me the game.” However, it is the knowledge of how critical such contributions can be that means Moyes is wary of asking too much of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who had missed almost a month with a groin problem prior to his re-appearance as a substitute against Cardiff, and why they are not certain to start at Stoke. “I need to be careful with them,” said Moyes. “We are more concerned about Robin because he’s been out longer but we are mindful they’re both coming back from injuries and have to make sure they’re ready.” Nevertheless, Moyes has been able to take a more detached view of one of the most hectic days of the season, which the Scot sometimes feels takes on a life of its own, often from the most spurious of bases. “I am surprised so many people believe so much of it,” he said. “I am a football fan. But I hear people picking up stories that we are after certain players when it is a load of rubbish. “It is comic-book stuff.” David Moyes put the ‘closed for business’ sign up at Manchester United just after lunchtime on transfer deadline day insisting he felt far more in control than the hectic final few hours in August. This time around, a far more measured approach has been taken. As Moyes predicted, the targets he was looking at have largely proved impossible to prise out of their present clubs. Yet United were still able to make the biggest impact, splashing out a club record £37.1million on Juan Mata last weekend. “Yes,” said Moyes, when asked whether he felt more in charge. “But that is what we said; I would know more as we went along. “I wasn’t going to come into the club and be able to get all the players we felt we needed. But there were reasons for that. “I had to make sure all the players had an opportunity to show me what they could do. It wasn’t for me to come in and throw people out of the door. “I had to be as fair as possible. We have got one, we will add more to it in time.” Moyes’ first transfer window as United manager ended in chaos, with bids flying in for various players including one for Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao that did not offer enough time for the Spain heavyweights to find a replacement, scuppering the entire deal. The arrival of three men, who remain unknown to United chief executive Ed Woodward, at La Liga headquarters supposedly attempting to force through the transfer of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao exemplified the confusion, with Marouane Fellaini eventually arriving from Everton for £27.5million minutes before the 11pm cut-off point. Press Associationlast_img read more


No. 8 Trojans continue preparation as they move closer to matchup with Idaho

first_imgWednesday morning’s football practice was more focused and intense compared to the previous day’s practice despite the over 90 degree temperature before 10 a.m. Head coach Steve Sarkisian said he was happy with the team’s energy and focus throughout practice.“The heat has been good for us,” Sarkisian said. “It’s a positive that we have to work through it.”Sarkisian sees practices as a whole as what’s most important for the team. He said when the team plays hard consistently throughout practice, that’s what prepares them for the games.“We have to be hard on one another because that’s going to make us better and help us perform better on Saturdays,” Sarkisian said.Sarkisian spoke about how true freshman inside linebacker Osa Masina has been playing much more confidently over the past two to three weeks and is playing to his strengths. Masina grabbed another interception during the team portion of practice Wednesday.Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox also praised Masina’s performance after practice. Masina delivered an immediate impact for the Trojans in his debut after returning a fumble recovery 46 yards for a touchdown.Wilcox pointed out that the defense will continue to see a significant amount of substitutions. He’d like to continue to see a lot of balance in the number of snaps his plays see in each game. The team’s fluidity is dependent on themselves, not the opponent.“It’s about getting fresh bodies in the game,” Wilcox said. “Getting the guys who can help us win the game.”Though the defense played well and held Arkansas State to only a touchdown, Wilcox would like to the team fortify its coverage against dual threat quarterbacks.“We had chances to make some negative plays that we did not make,” Wilcox said. “Those things need to improve.”On offense, Sarkisian said he was was glad that the young offensive line was challenged against Arkansas State. He said that being challenged on the first series of the first game will be beneficial for the team later on in the season.“In the grand scheme of things, we’re still a little young,” Sarkisian said. “But I still think we are going to be very good.”Redshirt sophomore safety Chris Hawkins, who had an interception and a fumble recovery last game, thought that the defense’s performance as a unit was a good one with so many different players seeing playing time against Arkansas State.“It’s valuable to mix guys up,” Hawkins said. “It gets a lot of guys experience.”When it comes to Idaho, the team is not treating them any differently from a Pac-12 opponent.“We have to look at them as if they’re the best,” Hawkins said. “So we can do our jobs.”Sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, likewise, isn’t taking the team’s week two opponent lightly.“Idaho is going to give it their all,”  because they’re playing against USC,” Smith-Schuster said.Even though Smith-Schuster is only a sophomore, he’s already aiming to emerge as one of the team’s unsung leaders.“You don’t need a ‘C’ on your chest to be a captain,” he said.In practice, Smith-Schuster has been seen as the type of player who is always communicating with his teammates, on the field and on the sidelines.Against Arkansas State, Smith-Schuster was double-teamed  frequently.  Instead of  becoming frustrated by double coverages,    Smith-Schuster decided that he was going to embrace it and uses it as motivation.He is also happy about the advantage that the double-teams give to his teammates because it , in turn, makes it easier on them to get the ball and score.“If I win on double-team, it looks good for NFL scouts,” Smith-Schuster said. “I love it.”The No. 8 Trojans will return to Howard Jones Field for one final practice before taking on Idaho at the Coliseum on Saturday night.last_img read more