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Executive Orders 

Executive Orders are issued by the White House and are used to direct the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. Executive Orders state mandatory requirements for the Executive Branch, and have the effect of law. They are issued in relation to a law passed by Congress or based on powers granted to the President in the Constitution and must be consistent with those authorities. Executive Orders are given numbers and abbreviated as “EO XXXXX”. Executive Orders are numbered in ascending order, so a higher number means the order was given more recently. Executive Orders may amend earlier orders.

If you want to see what a particular Executive Order mandated, you would look at that order. If you want to see the most recent requirements for a particular program, you should look at the Executive Order in that subject area with the highest number.

The National Archives maintains a list of each President’s Executive Orders. They can be accessed by year and subject for each Presidential Administration.


EO 13546: Optimizing the Security of Biological Select Agents and Toxins in the United States (2010)

EO 13546 established the Federal Expert Security Advisory Panel (FESAP) to make technical recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Attorney General. The recommendations guide risk-based security measures for people and institutions possessing, working with, or transferring biological select agents or toxins recommend mechanisms to coordinate government oversight programs to minimize the burden on labs and workers.  The FESAP report is available online.

EO 13527: Establishing Federal Capability for the Timely Provision of Medical Countermeasures Following a Biological Attack (2009)

EO 13527 calls for the creation of a policy on providing, coordinating, and delivering treatments after a biological attack. The goals of the policy are to reduce or treat illness, prevent death, and sustain critical infrastructure, including the necessary workforce. The policy also requires the creation of a U.S. Postal Service medical drug-dispensing model to supplement local distribution strategies.

EO 13486: Strengthening Laboratory Biosecurity in the United States (2009)

EO 13486 creates an interagency working group whose goal is to strengthen biosecurity in the U.S. This is accomplished through the evaluation and enhancement of current policies applying to federal and nonfederal facilities that:

  • conduct research on biological select agents and toxins
  • manage clinical or environmental laboratory operations involving biological select agents and toxins
  • handle biological select agents and toxins
  • store biological select agents and toxins or
  • transport biological select agents and toxins.

The charge to the working group includes developing recommendations for new legislation, regulations, guidance, or practices for security and personnel reliability and options for establishing oversight mechanisms.

This page last reviewed: February 15, 2018