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Will DOD Catch Flu?

12:35 PM -- There has been some skepticism about the likelihood of avian flu decimating U.S. businesses, despite warnings from experts and IT managers. (See Suppliers Prep for Pandemic and Panel Ponders Preparedness.)

Depending on whom you listen to, comparisons with the 1918 influenza epidemic, which killed 20 million people around the world, are either media hysteria (as if!) or a chilling reminder of the need to be well prepared. (See CIOs Ponder Potential Pandemic.)

That said, it is telling that the U.S. government has been quietly making its own plans to deal with a possible influenza pandemic. After the fiasco of Hurricane Katrina, federal agencies and departments clearly do not want to be caught off-guard again.

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Apparently, the DOD has been planning for an influenza pandemic since September 2004, although auditors found significant areas for improvement.

Here's some of what surfaced in the report: At the time of the GAO's review, neither the secretary of defense nor the deputy secretary of defense had yet issued guidance defining roles, responsibilities, goals, and performance measures for the Department's pandemic planning.

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