Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service

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This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 8, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Well, if you think we’re prepared for a bioterror (search) attack, my next guest says not so fast. Max Stier isn’t worried if we’ll have enough supplies to fight an attack. He says that we’re not going to have enough people. What does he mean? He’s the CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, and he joins us now from Washington.

Mr. Stier, welcome.

Where’s the big hole in terms of people?

MAX STIER, PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE: Well, you put the hammer on the nail there when you say that people are the central resource that the federal government needs to fix or to prepare for a bioterrorist attack. What we found in a report that we issued today was that, frankly, we have a lot of work still to be done, four major findings.

The first is that the federal workforce is too small and growing too gray.

Second, it doesn’t have the resources to really win the war for talent that it needs.

Third, there’s simply insufficient talent in the pipeline to supply the government and the private sector in the area of biodefense experts that we’re going to need going forward.

And fourth, we need to do a lot of strategic planning to address those first three issues.

KEENAN: So you’re talking about biologists here and people that can attack bioterrorism on that front, right?

STIER: Absolutely. Biologists. Many people in the medical profession. There are a lot of different biological sciences that are really in play in the national defense arena for the very first time. It’s an area that’s had explosive growth. Many experts have said that biological weapons are in some ways the poor man’s atomic bomb, and that sort of underlines the critical importance of investing in this area.

KEENAN: So do we need some sort of a Manhattan Project to attract people to this specialty because we see the medical schools are losing enrollees right now.

STIER: You’ve again stated the best analogy possible, and that is the Manhattan Project. We really do need to see the federal government invest in a Manhattan Project-like response to the bioterrorist threat, and it has to occur on a variety of different levels.

First, we need to make sure that the federal government today has the tools to compete for the talent it needs. And then second, we need to create opportunities for more people to go into biodefense fields so that we have the skilled individuals that we’re going to need going forward.

KEENAN: All right. Thanks for raising this issue with us.

STIER: Thank you so much.

KEENAN: An important issue at that.

Max Stier joining us from Washington.

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