? ? The purpose of this project is to assess and evaluate how the law shapes the public health system's preparedness activities and its response to public health threats, such as infectious disease outbreaks, pandemic flu, and all hazards (including bioterrorism preparedness). ? ? The specific objectives are to examine: 1) the link between law and public health preparedness activities; 2) the extent and scope of legal mandates on state and local public health systems and whether those mandates facilitate or impede public health preparedness efforts; 3) how variations in state laws affect the use of federal and state funding streams to meet public health preparedness objectives; 4) how public health practitioners interpret and respond to federal and state laws affecting public health preparedness; and 5) to translate the findings into concrete policy recommendations for public health officials and legislators to implement. ? ? To meet these objectives, the investigators will first examine federal laws regarding public health preparedness, such as bioterrorism and infectious disease threats (including an examination of funding streams and performance measures). Then we will conduct a series of case studies of state and local public health systems to determine how state and federal law affects the public health system's ability to respond more effectively to public health threats and other public health preparedness needs. ? ? The project's primary contribution will be to provide policymakers with the first systematic empirical information to understand how law shapes the public health system's disease preparedness activities, and how public health officials are adjusting to the changing legal environment. Another project goal is to bridge the gap between academic research and the issues public health practitioners face. Translating the research findings to the practitioner community is an important element of our overall strategy, an aspect of the research that we view as both crucial to the project's success and an important contribution of this effort. Thus, we plan to recommend concrete strategies states and local health departments can use to address the implications of federal and state law and funding on their public health preparedness activities. ? ? ?