Policy makers need to know whether federal programs can improve community-level readiness for large-scale public health emergencies, and how to design such programs to increase their impact. This article describes an evaluation of the Cities Readiness Initiative, a federal program to improve communities' ability to dispense medications rapidly during emergencies. The program helped increase staffing, improve planning and partnerships, and streamline medication-dispensing procedures. The evaluation results indicate that clear goals, technical assistance, and a balance between threat-specific and more-general "all hazards" planning might improve the effectiveness of federal readiness programs.
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