Holding the Government Accountable

BARDA: A Breeding Ground for Another Brownie?

Effects Measure (a public health policy blog anonymously run by public health experts) thinks that the secretiveBiomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) proposed by Senate bill 1873 will be a breeding ground for another Mike Brown because there will be little transparency in the agency.

BARDA will coordinate efforts to research and develop medical countermeasures to pandemic or terrorist biological events. Brown (or "Brownie" as Bush refers to him) was the incompetent crony ex-Arabian horse judge in charge of FEMA during the Katrina disaster. BARDA, as the legislation creating it currently stands, will be effectively exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

In another post, Effects Measure asks:

...without oversight, how will be know if guidelines are being followed and good faith pursued [in BARDA]? We'll just have to trust everyone concerned: the drug companies, the public officials, the drug company execs who are former public officials, the public officials who are used to be drug company execs.

Judging by the government's track record so far from the response to Katrina to bioterrorism preparedness, the public has good reason not to trust the government. Keeping BARDA's activities under wraps and saying "trust us" might defer some negative newspaper articles for a while, but it won't make the agency more effective. Transparency and the pressure that comes from public scrutiny will keep the government working better than it would in secret.