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Highlights

An influenza pandemic is a real and significant potential threat facing the United States and the world. Pandemics are unlike other emergencies because they are not a singular event nor discretely bounded in space and time. This testimony addresses (1) federal leadership roles and responsibilities for preparing for and responding to a pandemic, (2) our assessment of the Strategy and Plan, and (3) opportunities to increase clarity of federal leadership roles and responsibilities and improve pandemic planning. GAO used its characteristics of an effective national strategy to assess the Strategy and Plan. The issues discussed in the testimony are based primarily on the GAO report, Influenza Pandemic: Further Efforts Are Needed to Ensure Clearer Federal Leadership Roles and an Effective National Strategy (GAO-07-781). In this report, GAO recommended that (1) The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services develop rigorous testing, training, and exercises for pandemic influenza to ensure that federal leadership roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood and work effectively and (2) HSC set a time frame to update the Plan, involve key stakeholders, and more fully address the characteristics of an effective national strategy. The Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services concurred. The HSC did not comment.

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