Bipartisan Committee Leaders Call on GAO to Evaluate Federal Lab Procedures Following Safety Lapses

July 31, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today called on the Government Accountability Office to provide details about the management of pathogens at federal laboratories. The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ). 

The leaders write, “Recently, there have been several highly publicized reports of federal laboratories experiencing lapses in the management of dangerous pathogens, prompting concern that these incidents may not be isolated events. … It is vitally important to maintain biosafety and biosecurity protocols at federal laboratories that are designed to prevent unintentional exposure to pathogens or their accidental or intentional release because exposure to certain disease-causing pathogens can have serious and potentially lethal consequences for public health.”

The leaders request GAO to review the existing policies and procedures that federal agencies use in managing dangerous pathogens and how those agencies evaluate the effectiveness of those policies and procedures.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations recently held a hearing to review the recent safety lapses at the Centers for Disease Control.  

Read the complete letter online here.