Hey CDC: "You have one job. Try doing it." (Ebola Edition)


Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, notes that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has done a pretty weak job of handling the ebola outbreak and a host of other tasks. Reynolds lays the blame on the agency's multitasking. Originally created to handle infectious diseases, the CDC has been charged with all sorts of other things. Such as:

In 2014, the CDC received (together with the Public Health Service and related programs) $6.8 billion. But not all of that money went to infectious diseases. In addition to the CDC's supposed raison d'etre, there were programs for:

  • Chronic disease prevention (obesity, heart disease, etc): fiscal 2014 budget approximately $1 billion, or just under 15% of the total budget.
  • Birth defects: $132 million, or just about 2% of the total budget.
  • Environmental health (asthma, safe water, etc): $179 million, 2.6% of total.
  • Injury prevention (domestic violence, brain injury, etc): $150 million, 2.2% of total.
  • Public health services (statistics, surveillance, etc): $482 million, 7% of total.
  • Occupational safety (mostly research): $332 million, 5% of total.

Concludes Reynolds:

In an era where new disease threats look to be growing, the CDC needs to drop the side jobs and focus on its real reason for existence. But, alas, the problem isn't just the CDC. It's everywhere.

It seems that as government has gotten bigger, and accumulated more and more of its own ancillary responsibilities, it has gotten worse at its primary tasks. …

Multitasking results in poorer performance for individuals. It also hurts the performance of government agencies, and of government itself. You have one job. Try doing it.

Whole thing.