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 coordination 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

Football: Chryst doesn’t want Badgers to rest on upset win

first_imgAfter one of the biggest wins in program history against a Louisiana State University team many experts picked to make the College Football Playoffs, the Wisconsin football team returned home this weekend with high expectations for the rest of the season.To fulfill those lofty expectations, however, the Badgers still have their work cut out for them.Football: Breakdown of Badgers’ upset over LSUThe Wisconsin Badgers played a spoiler game against fifth ranked Louisiana State University with a 16-14 upset victory in college Read…When asked about his team’s performance Saturday, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst’s answers began to follow a pattern that grew more noticeable as Monday’s press conference wore on. With each compliment he gave his team, he also issued a challenge.The message he was trying to make was clear — despite the well-played game, the Badgers need to get better if they hope to achieve what they have set out to do.“There’s areas where we’ve got to get better, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on this week,” Chryst said.While never giving specifics about where his team can improve, Chryst made it clear that he believes each player is capable of playing better and growing as part of the team.Fullbacks, the offensive line, the defensive secondary and his quarterback Bart Houston were all examples the head coach gave of groups that can improve their play heading into this week’s match up against the Akron Zips of the Mid-American Conference. Even Rafael Gaglianone, who went 3-3 on his field goals, including the 47-yarder in the fourth quarter to cap off the comeback, was at one point the focus of a conversation on where the team could improve as a whole.In photos: UW fans’ fairytale comes true with Badger win at LambeauThe football game this Saturday couldn’t have been any more magical for Wisconsinites as their two pride and joys were Read…With Akron, Wisconsin turns its attention to a mid-tier program fresh off a 47-24 win over the Virginia Military Institute, but MAC teams have a history of taking advantage of unsuspecting Power Conferences teams. At least one team from the MAC has defeated a Big Ten team each of the last 10 seasons after Western Michigan defeated Northwestern 22-21 this past Saturday.While discussing Akron, Chryst noted the powerful spread offense they run in contrast to the power running LSU team.“It’s going to stress us differently than last week,” Chryst said. “They’re going to spread us out and we’ve got to play good assignment football.”Doing so will be even harder now with the news that inside linebacker Chris Orr is sidelined for the rest of the season with a right ACL injury suffered in the game against LSU.Football: Orr out with ACL injury for remainder of seasonWisconsin football head coach Paul Chryst broke the news Monday that inside linebacker Chris Orr will miss the remainder of Read…With the way Ryan Connelly stepped up during the game, Chryst isn’t worried about individual players. The focus right now is the team as a whole. In Chryst’s mind there’s a lot of work that needs to be done — a concept he made abundantly clear.last_img read more