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View Full Version : Is Bush appointee wrecking the CDC?


Spoke
09-25-2006, 10:43 AM
I live in Atlanta, so I have heard first-hand some of the rumblings of discontent within the CDC of late. Bush appointee Julie Gerberding has shaken the place up since she was installed as director in 2002. Of course, any change of leadership will generate some discontent, so at first I didn't pay much attention. But lately, the warning signs have become more ominous. From a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://www.ajc.com/search/content/auto/epaper/editions/sunday/news_5430dba4748201210089.html):

An exodus of key leaders and scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised "great concern" among five of the six former directors who led the agency over the past 40 years.

Their concerns, expressed in a rare joint letter to current CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding, come amid growing staff complaints about whether her strategic shifts in the agency's focus are putting public health at risk, according to interviews with current and former CDC officials and documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Critics say the agency is changing to a top-down management style that stifles science and that new layers of bureaucracy are being created, making agency operations more cumbersome.

I urge you to read the whole article. It is very worrisome. Makes you wonder whether the CDC will "pull a FEMA" in the face of a national health emergency.

Here's a link to the unofficial blog for CDC employees (http://www.cdcchatter.net/), referenced in the article, where some of the concerns by those within the organization are being voiced.

I'm putting this in the Pit instead of Great Debates, because I don't know if there is a debate here. I am just angry at the idea that the CDC's effectiveness is being compromised, and want to share the information. If a debate breaks out, perhaps a Mod will move the thread.

tagos
09-25-2006, 11:09 AM
As a Bush appointee I'm confident she was appointed entirely on merit and is doing a helluva job.

Lightnin'
09-25-2006, 11:33 AM
As a Bush appointee I'm confident she was appointed entirely on merit and is doing a helluva job.

Don't you mean "heckuva"?

elucidator
09-25-2006, 11:52 AM
We are moving towards a faith-based approach to epidemiology.

Spoke
09-25-2006, 12:25 PM
Some more excerpts for those who don't have the patience to read the article:

And there is a specific distrust of Gerberding herself and the agency's chief operations officer, Bill Gimson, according to interviews with their supporters and detractors. That's coupled with what some say is a climate of fear that discourages honest communication, and an effort to "spin" the official information disseminated to employees.

"They don't trust Julie and Bill," said Dr. Dixie Snider, who retired this summer after working in CDC's Office of the Director for 13 years, including since 2004 as Gerberding's chief science officer. "It's a reality that the leadership is aware of. I think everybody is just befuddled about how do you fix that."

Trust issues range from a general lack of confidence that CDC's leadership will "do the right thing" when faced with political pressure from Washington; to questions of whether the reorganization was motivated more by a desire for control and power than designed to fix anything that was broken; to a belief that official staff communications are designed more to burnish a public relations image than give employees the unvarnished truth, according to interviews.

The CDC staff members who are raising concerns, Koplan said, are not complainers.

"In my 34 years of affiliation with the CDC, I've never seen this level of concern," Koplan said. "The rate and number of turnover has been exceptional. And it's not just senior leadership, which would be huge in and of itself."

"You're seeing a gradual erosion into the scientific base, and that's very worrisome," said Dr. David Sencer, one of five former CDC directors who sent the joint letter of concern to Gerberding in December, then met with her this spring.

Statements like this from some of the nation's top scientists are what has caused the Senate Finance Committee to become "deeply concerned," said U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, its chairman. The committee, prompted by a CDC whistleblower, is probing CDC's oversight of a $3.8 billion bioterrorism grant program. It's also examining reports that turmoil in the agency is putting its scientific mission at risk.

gonzomax
09-25-2006, 12:44 PM
The function is to make the administration look good and avoid controversy. They are doing their job well so far.

Shayna
09-25-2006, 01:01 PM
Some more excerpts for those who don't have the patience to read the article: And for those Republicans who think this is just more Liberal Bush Bashing, this excerpt might be of interest. . . Statements like this from some of the nation's top scientists are what has caused the Senate Finance Committee to become "deeply concerned," said U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, its chairman. The committee, prompted by a CDC whistleblower, is probing CDC's oversight of a $3.8 billion bioterrorism grant program. It's also examining reports that turmoil in the agency is putting its scientific mission at risk.

"The citizens of the United States fully expect that in the event of natural disasters, attacks by bioterrorists, and outbreaks of life-threatening diseases, the agencies of their federal government will quickly and effectively respond to those situations," said Grassley (R-Iowa).

The Journal-Constitution has found it difficult to quantify whether the agency's ability to respond in a crisis has been significantly harmed. Grassley's investigators have experienced similar difficulty.

But Grassley said: "The beliefs expressed by those experts cannot be safely ignored or minimized."

Frostillicus
09-25-2006, 08:54 PM
Let me guess. When some horrible disease wipes out millions of Americans next year while the CDC does absolutely nothing to stop it, President Bush will go on TV and praise the head of the CDC for doing a heckuva job, and claim that no one could have forseen that the bubonic plague could pass from human to human. Meanwhile, the good folks at Fox will attempt to blame the whole thing on Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

PS Someone please bookmark this thread.

tagos
09-26-2006, 03:03 AM
Don't you mean "heckuva"?

I stand corrected. Whatever it is I'm sure if I was in the USA I'd be resting that much more safely in my hermetically sealed bunker knowing that someone summoned to greatness by Bush had my back.

phouka
09-26-2006, 10:21 AM
You know, I was going to come in here and make some snarky allusion to FEMA, Brownie, and the general fuckupedness that is President Bush's habit of making appointments to fundamentally necessary posts in the federal government into awards for his sycophants.

But I see my works has been done already.

Yeah, bad enough that FEMA was gutted and the knowledgable middle management fled. Now we're losing the people at the CDC who are trying to keep us safe from bird flu, e coli, AIDS, five or six forms of hepatitis, and whatever else comes down the pike?

That shack in Montana's starting to sound really good about now.