The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced it is launching an agencywide review in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to modernize and better position the agency for the future of public health.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced the review in an April 4 email to CDC staff. Walensky said she has hired Jim Macrae, an administrator with the Department of Health and Human Services, to conduct a one-month review of the CDC, starting on April 11.
The CDC shared a copy of the email with MeriTalk.
“The lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the feedback I have received inside and outside the agency over the past year, indicate that it is time to take a step back and strategically position CDC to support the future of public health,” Walensky said the email.
“At the conclusion of this collective effort, we will develop new systems and processes to deliver our science and program to the American people, along with a plan for how CDC should be structured to facilitate the public health work we do,” she wrote.
Walensky also asked a few internal senior leaders to gather feedback and suggestions for “strategic change” at the CDC. These leaders are Deb Houry, acting principal deputy director; Robin Bailey, chief operating officer; and Sherri Berger, chief of staff.
The agency’s review will build on the agency’s efforts over the past year “to speed up data reporting and scientific processes throughout its pandemic response,” the CDC said in a separate statement shared with MeriTalk.
“Work is needed to institutionalize and formalize these approaches and to find new ways to adapt the agency’s structure to the changing environment,” the statement says. “These efforts will strengthen and transform CDC to better support the future of public health, and modernize and optimize the agency to deliver science and programmatic activities to the American people.”
One focus of the agency revamp will be data modernization, as data analysis and real-time data sharing prove to be vital for the nation’s lead public health agency.
“Never in its 75 years history has CDC had to make decisions so quickly, based on often limited, real-time, and evolving science,” Walensky said in the statement.
Walensky said the agency’s review will have “a keen focus on the agency’s core capabilities – public health workforce, data modernization, laboratory capacity, health equity, rapid response to disease outbreaks, and preparedness within the U.S. and around the world.”