Olson Amendment on Biological Testing Passed in Homeland Security Committee
Washington, DC â€“ Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee passed an amendment authored by Rep. Pete Olson that will establish a biological threat agent testing program to ensure interoperability among biological threat detection technologies. The amendment is included in HR 4842, legislation to authorize the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s Directorate of Science and Technology
â€œMany federal agencies currently test for pathogens that may be released naturally or as acts of terrorism. DHSâ€™ flagship biomonitoring effort is known as BioWatch, but there are many others throughout the government. Unfortunately, no regulatory or statutory standards exist to ensure that these tests are interoperable. My amendment changes that.
â€œSimply performing a biothreat test is not good enough. The procedures and results must be shared with other departments in DHS and other federal agencies. My amendment will ensure that communities are all receiving the same information to better protect residents from potential threats and stop them before they can do harm.
â€œWhile this amendment authorizes the standards for all DHS biomonitoring programs, it is my hope that they will serve as a model to support all other Federal biomonitoring programs, as well. As the world faces potential biological attacks, this effort will go a long way to streamlining the interoperability process and protecting the public and ensuring peace of mind as we adapt to new potential threats.â€
The S&T Directorate plays a key role in enabling the Department to detect, deter, and disrupt future terrorist attacks. Its relevance to the homeland security mission can be seen in the ongoing advances in explosives detection technology; by the need for border technologies to detect illegal immigration; and by the threat of bioterrorism.