SLTT, non-federal, and non-governmental preparedness and capacity-building are also vital elements of a robust biodefense enterprise. To support ongoing collaboration, the NBS and NSPM-14 include a mandate to reach beyond the federal government to engage with SLTT, non-federal, and non-governmental stakeholders. Input from stakeholders is critical to building and maintaining a biodefense enterprise capable of protecting the American people from the wide-ranging threats the nation faces today. To that end, the BSC and BCT held a public engagement meeting on April 17, 2019, solicited feedback and perspectives of stakeholders in response to a Federal Register Notice (FRN), and conducted targeted outreach.16
The April 17, 2019, Summit for the Implementation of the NBS (the Summit) was held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Those who attended the event in person were able to engage with panelists after each presentation to further the conversation, to pose questions, and to gain clarification on the topics, goals, and objectives discussed. Individuals also participated by webinar. During the Summit, participants were asked to address questions specifically related to the goals of the NBS. Questions focused on significant gaps or challenges, either at the national level or within the private sector, the highest priority actions addressing the goals, new initiatives planned by various sectors that would contribute to filling gaps in risk awareness, and proposed initiatives that would be most effective in enhancing biodefense-related decision-making by leaders.
In addition to convening a public meeting, the federal government announced the
Call for Public Comments: NBS Implementation. Commenters were asked to submit responses to questions that were also based entirely on the five NBS goals and objectives. Commenters submitted their responses via
email to ASPRBIO@hhs.gov. The comment period opened on April 2, 2019, and closed on May 1, 2019. Information about stakeholder engagement on biodefense, including the
meeting summary of the Summit and the summary of written comments are available at www.phe.gov/biodefense. Suggestions offered at the public engagement meeting and through the FRN served as a foundation for discussion and development of stakeholder inclusive efforts, were considered in the internal deliberations of the BCT, and informed the assessment.
Engaging the public is vital given the critical importance of biodefense to the protection of the American people. The BSC and BCT recognize that extensive public consultation is also crucial for implementing measures to enhance the existing framework for biodefense and for ensuring the measures are appropriate, practical, and acceptable. Continued strengthening of biodefense will require informed and sustained action on the part of the federal government, SLTT, non-federal, and non-governmental stakeholders. The BCT will continue to engage multi-sectoral stakeholders to enhance U.S. biodefense.
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