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CDC to Translate Data into ‘Easy-to-Understand’ New Policy

An ambitious vision amid pandemic failures

The CDC has begun an ambitious revamping after admitting it was not ready for the plethora of issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency is pursuing a culture change to break down silos and communicate better in house and to the public. The lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic were harsh but must be learned.

The move to revamp the agency comes after James Macrae, MA, MPP, of the Health Resources and Services Administration, began in April to review the CDC’s pandemic response. In addition to interviewing 120 CDC employees, Macrae talked to key external stakeholders.

McCrae’s report has not been published yet, but the CDC press office released some of the key findings and recommendations:1

  • Share scientific findings and data faster. Release scientific findings and data faster in response to the need for information and action and be transparent about the agency’s current level of understanding.
  • Translate science into practical, easy-to-understand policy. Create a standardized policy development process for appropriately vetted implementation guidance documents.
  • Prioritize public health communications. Prioritize and enhance public-facing health communication practices and staff expertise.
  • Promote results-based partnerships. Work more effectively with public health partners to accomplish results-oriented goals, and work to address the limitations of a siloed approach to solving major public health problems.
  • Develop a workforce prepared for future emergencies. Strengthen the CDC workforce in responding to infectious and non-infectious public health emergencies, including new skills, training, and capabilities, and aligning incentives for commitment to these efforts.

“The optimizations are designed to not only change how CDC operates but also its culture, orienting it toward timely action — ensuring CDC’s science reaches the public in an understandable, accessible, and implementable manner as quickly as possible,” the CDC said in a statement. “We are going to move forward with some organizational changes. However, that alone is not enough. We will modernize CDC to better prepare us for future public health challenges to include the next pandemic.”

The CDC already established an Advisory Committee to the director, which met as recently as Aug. 9, but the agency plans to create a “new executive council — reporting to the director — that will determine agency’s priorities, track progress, and align budget decisions, with a bias toward public health impact.”


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC moving forward. Aug. 17, 2022.