Search Penny Hill Press

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 112th Congress

Frank Gottron
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276) to provide the federal government with new authorities related to the development, procurement, and use of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents. As the expiration of some of these authorities approaches, Congress is considering whether these authorities have sufficiently contributed to national preparedness to merit extension.

The Project BioShield Act provides three main authorities: (1) guaranteeing a federal market for new CBRN medical countermeasures, (2) permitting emergency use of countermeasures that are either unapproved or have not been approved for the intended emergency use, and (3) relaxing regulatory requirements for some CBRN terrorism-related spending. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used each of these authorities. The HHS obligated approximately $2.5 billion to guarantee a government market for countermeasures against anthrax, botulism, radiation, and smallpox. The HHS allowed the emergency use of several unapproved products, including during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The HHS used expedited review authorities to approve contracts and grants related to CBRN countermeasure research and development.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-90) advanceappropriated $5.593 billion to acquire CBRN countermeasures through Project BioShield for FY2004-FY2013. Through FY2012, subsequent Congresses have removed $1.876 billion from this account through rescissions and transfers, more than one-third of the advance appropriation. The transfers from this account supported CBRN medical countermeasure advanced development, pandemic influenza preparedness and response, and basic biomedical research.

Since passing the Project BioShield Act, subsequent Congresses have considered additional measures to further encourage countermeasure development. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417) created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in HHS and modified the Project BioShield procurement process. Among other duties, BARDA oversees all of HHS’s Project BioShield procurements.

The 112th Congress is considering several Project BioShield-related policy questions. One question is whether the Project BioShield acquisition mechanism has sufficiently improved national preparedness relative to its costs to merit extension. If so, congressional policymakers may consider whether changes to the funding levels or how Congress provides Project BioShield funds would improve the program’s efficiency or performance. Additionally, congressional policymakers are considering whether the federal government sufficiently plans and coordinates its CBRN countermeasure efforts from basic research to distribution. Finally, Congress is considering whether changes to the emergency use authority will improve preparedness and planning.

Three bills in the 112th Congress address some of these Project BioShield-related issues, H.R. 2356, H.R. 2405, and S. 1855.

Date of Report: June 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: R42349
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.

To order: Visit, e-mail Penny Hill Press,or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Follow us on TWITTER at or #CRSreports