Biosafety labs under the U.S. Bioterrorism Act are primarily regulated and must be registered with either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Select Agent Regulations. Currently, all operational biosafety level (BSL) 4 labs are registered with the CDC and thus are regulated by the CDC, not USDA. BSL-4 labs handle the world's most dangerous agents and diseases. In fact, of the four BSL designations, only BSL-4 labs can work with agents for which no cure or treatment exists. GAO was asked to perform a systematic security assessment of key perimeter security controls at the nation's five operational BSL-4 labs. To meet this objective, GAO performed a physical security assessment of the perimeter of each lab using a security survey it developed. GAO focused primarily on 15 physical security controls, based on GAO expertise and research of commonly accepted physical security principles.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention||To further enhance physical perimeter security at BSL-4 labs regulated by the Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT), the Director, CDC, should take action to implement specific perimeter security controls for all BSL-4 labs to provide assurance that each lab has a strong perimeter security system in place. The CDC should work with USDA to coordinate its efforts, given that both agencies have the authority to regulate select agents.||
Closed – Implemented