Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Biosafety laboratories are primarily regulated by either the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), depending on whether the substances they handle pose a threat to the health of humans or plants, animals, and related products, respectively. Currently, all operational biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) labs are overseen by HHS's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BSL-4 labs handle the world's most dangerous agents and toxins that cause incurable and deadly diseases. In September 2008, GAO reported that two of the five operational BSL-4 labs had less than a third of the key perimeter security controls GAO assessed and recommended that CDC implement specific perimeter controls for all BSL-4 labs. GAO was asked to (1) provide an update on what action, if any, CDC took to address the 2008 recommendation; (2) determine whether perimeter security controls at the two deficient BSL-4 labs had improved since the 2008 report; and (3) provide other observations about the BSL-4 labs it assessed. To meet these objectives, GAO reviewed CDC's statement to Congress as well as other agency and HHS documentation on actions taken or to be taken with respect to the 2008 recommendation, reviewed new security plans for the two deficient BSL-4 labs, and performed another physical security assessment of these two labs. GAO is not making any recommendations.

Full Report