Dorit R. Reiss,
Institutionalizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Independence, 12
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/faculty_scholarship/1799
The United States' response to the COVID-19 pandemic was sub optimal. One problem in it was the politicization of the public health response. One aspect of that politicization was aggressive political intervention in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) efforts to provide guidance and help pandemic response. The concern was strong enough that four previous CDC Directors, in an unusual step, published an op-ed calling out political intervention in the CDC. This article proposes two changes to strengthen the CDC's institutional independence: codifying the CDC's role in preventing diseases and reducing harms in a statute, and restructuring the agency to be led by a multi-member board appointed for long times and with removal protections ( along the lines of the Board of the Federal Reserve System). These changes can send a strong message that expert advice in public health should be science-based and less, rather than more, political. It can also protect CDC's long-standing independence, while preserving some political control.