As congress faces budget challenges across the board, the price tag for the next generation of the BioWatch program may prove to be a difficult pill to swallow. Cost estimates for the biological threat early warning system have reportedly ballooned to $5.7 billion over the program lifetime, six times the initial assessment.
The Biowatch Program consists of outdoor aerosol collectors deployed in over 30 cities whose filters are manually retrieved for subsequent analysis in a Laboratory Response Network (LRN) facility. In the past year, Biowatch successfully implemented the use of DoD Critical Reagents Program assays to conduct initial screening for the aerosol release of bioterrorism agents and complement confirmatory testing at LRN laboratories. The program also developed and made operational a new comprehensive quality assurance framework for Biowatch laboratory operations.
The DHS FY2013 budget requested funds to support the existing Biowatch technology (Generations 1/2) and provides for continued development of Generation 3 (Gen-3) to reduce the time of detection of a biological agent with more automated technology now available.
Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.