The state lab system needs reform, and a lot of it will cost money that may or may not come. But a couple of reporting requirements could be established in state law to nip problems in the bud at no additional cost.
First, public health authorities should testify annually in person to a relevant State House committee about the condition of the state’s labs. Thumbs-ups from accrediting agencies are great, but should not be solely relied on. Seventeen separate accrediting reviews at JP’s State Lab did not notice that the drug lab there was unaccredited or the complex’s overall management flaws.
Second, whenever there is a public health or safety crisis involving a regularly inspected state facility, the state should proactively release the latest inspection report to local officials and the media. It should not take weeks and demands for large sums of money. The state has a cadre of salaried PR experts who are fully capable of acquiring and releasing such reports at zero additional staff costs.