Federal auditors spotted "significant management weaknesses" in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) system for regulating potential bioweapons, according to a letter sent just weeks before a new, expanded list of these dangerous agents is due to be released. The US General Accounting Office (GAO) found holes in CDC's methodology for registering laboratories that ship dangerous organisms and toxins, gaps significant enough to let the substances slip into the hands of terrorists.

The Atlanta-based public health agency agrees with the GAO findings, which were reported in a November 22 letter to US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Tommy Thompson.

"We've taken some action on some of those criticisms," CDC spokesman David Daigle told The Scientist. The agency has temporarily moved the laboratory oversight function with its staff authorization of 19 people to its National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) division, an effort to increase...

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