The CDC needs reform to tackle its culture problem
While the General Accounting Office is sounding the alarm over the possibility the Health and Human Services Department may be unable to handle anther pandemic, there’s a push for reforms elsewhere.
Namely, at the Centers for Disease Control, whose response to the coronavirus pandemic has been confused, contradictory, or just plain unintelligible:
Among the first orders of business, according to the agency, is upgrading data collection that has hobbled decision making and clearing up messaging that has confused many.
Yet the steps may not be enough to fix problems at the nation’s premier public-health agency exposed by the pandemic. And the CDC may not have much time, as a new variant could emerge after Omicron crests.
“Moving fast and risk-taking in a setting of ambiguity is not CDC’s strength—it’s not what they do,” said Charity Dean, previously a California Department of Health official who resigned during the pandemic.
Ideas for reform include:
…Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate’s health committee released a bipartisan plan to revamp the CDC and improve the U.S. response to future pandemics. Under the draft legislation, the government would set up a task force to probe the U.S. response to the pandemic, improve public-health data collection and require the CDC director to be confirmed by the Senate.
Sure. But let’s not forget the oldies but goodies, including this 2007 report on how the CDC blew millions of dollars on itself, but “cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease.”
The CDC has a culture problem. It’s not unlike the strain found in so many other federal agencies, in which payrolls and perks matter more than fulfilling a mission. Except at the CDC, the culture problem can affect lives. Reform the CDC? Yes, absolutely. And make sure those reforms scrub the bureaucratic culture out of its syste