(Bloomberg) -- US public health chief Rochelle Walensky continued reconfiguring her agency to fight crises after stinging criticism of its pandemic response, hiring new leadership and creating new offices to address health equity and surveillance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director is establishing an Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance and Technology aimed at closing up crucial gaps in monitoring for potential threats, according to a person familiar with the developments. Walensky is also forming an Office of Health Equity that will report to her team, according to the person, who asked not to be named discussing details that aren’t public.
More of the agency’s units will report directly to the director’s office, increasing Walensky’s view of the nation’s health status. Details of the changes were announced at an in-person town hall Tuesday at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta and broadcast to staff around the world, the person said.
The organizational shake-up was guided by a monthslong internal review that identified cultural and organizational shortcomings in the agency’s response to the pandemic. Walensky’s advisers determined that CDC needed to share scientific findings and data faster, improve communications, strengthen relationships with federal, state and local partners, and ensure that the public-health workforce responds quickly to emergencies.
Walensky also consolidated work done by two different centers into a new National Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce. Other changes announced Tuesday included:
- The Office of Science and Office of Laboratory Science and Safety will report directly to the director’s team, a move aimed at emphasizing the importance of scientific work and increasing visibility of new insights at the top. Most CDC organizations will also now report directly to the director and her inner circle—a shift away from a Trump-era structural change.
The Center for Preparedness and Response will be renamed the Office of Readiness and Response. The Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, launched under Walensky’s oversight in 2022, will report to the director of this office.
Walensky created a Director for External Affairs position to strengthen relationships with government, nonprofits, academia and businesses, though the role hasn’t yet been filled.
The director will head a new leadership team along with newly hired Principal Deputy Director Nirav Shah, newly appointed Chief Medical Officer Debra Houry, Chief Operating Officer Robin Bailey Jr., Chief of Staff Sherri Berger, and a deputy director for global health and chief strategy officer who have yet to be announced.
Bloomberg News previously reported other developments in Walensky’s CDC Moving Forward project, including the creation of a new division dedicated to the coronavirus and other respiratory viruses within the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and a new mandate that all employees be ready to deploy to combat national health crises.
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