The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed its staff on Tuesday of several changes the agency will be making to its internal structure, with some offices merging their responsibilities and new offices being created.
This agency reorganization comes months after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency “did not reliably meet expectations” during the COVID-19 pandemic and would be undergoing an overhaul as a result.
“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in August. “As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.”
Throughout the pandemic, the CDC was criticized for issuing guidance that was confusing at times as well as being too slow to share scientific data. These criticisms were later bolstered by a review conducted by the Department of Health and Human Service.
According to a CDC staff member familiar with the announcement, the majority of the organization will now report directly to the Immediate Office of the Director, moving away from what they referred to as a “Community of Practice structure” that had been employed before.
The Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services and the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support will be combined into a new agency entity called the National Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce.
The Center for Preparedness and Response will now be renamed the Office of Readiness and Response.
Several new offices will also be created including the Office of Health Equity and the Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology. Regarding the latter, the CDC staffer said it was part of the agency’s aim to “build the data infrastructure necessary to connect all levels of public health with the critical data needed for action.”
Along with changes to the offices within the CDC, the agency staffer said a “new, centralized leadership team of multi-disciplinary experts” would be put together to provide supervision over the organization. Members of the team will include the CDC’s director, chief of staff and several deputy directors.
“These changes will improve efficiency, speed decision-making, and strengthen the communication of scientific information to the American public, ensuring CDC’s science reaches the public in an understandable, accessible, and implementable manner as quickly as possible,” said the staffer.