Aug. 18, 2022 --The CDC will focus on sharing scientific findings and data more quickly to the public and improving health communications as part of a major overhaul of the agency, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Wednesday.
The plan is a response to a 1-month review the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration conducted. It was brought on by continued criticism of the CDC's response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as its approach to the monkeypox outbreak.
"For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations," Walensky said in an email to CDC staff. "As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way."
The review included interviews with 120 staff and external stakeholders. It ultimately identified five main goals for the CDC to achieve:
- Share scientific findings and data faster and be forthcoming about the CDC's current level of understanding.
- Translate science into practical and understandable policy.
- Prioritize public health communications.
- Promote results-based partnerships and address limitations in a siloed approach to public health issues.
- Develop a workforce that is prepared for future emergencies.
The agency also said it would focus more on swiftly issuing public health guidance, rather than publishing scientific articles.
"My goal is a new, public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness," Walensky said.
Mary Wakefield, who served as the acting deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services from 2015 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, has been appointed to lead the team to help achieve these goals.
Walensky acknowledged in her statement that some aspects of the plan will require working with Congress to grant the CDC authority that it currently does not have, such as requiring states, cities and territories share data.
She also said the agency needs the authority to directly hire people to fill positions faster, as well as to provide competitive salaries for data scientists and for personnel for "hard-to-fill" positions.
So far, no additional money has been budgeted to help achieve these aims, a CDC spokesperson said.