oversight

Combating Terrorism: Observations on National Strategies Related to Terrorism

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-03-03.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                        United States General Accounting Office

GAO                     Testimony
                        Before the Subcommittee on National Security,
                        Emerging Threats, and International Relations,
                        Committee on Government Reform, House of
                        Representatives
Released on Delivery
1:00 p.m. EST
Monday, March 3, 2003   COMBATING TERRORISM
                        Observations on National
                        Strategies Related to
                        Terrorism
                        Statement of Raymond J. Decker, Director
                        Defense Capabilities and Management




GAO-03-519T
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to participate in this hearing
on national strategies related to combating terrorism. More than 2 years
ago, in July 2000, GAO testified before this subcommittee on this very
topic and cited concerns over a potential proliferation of overarching
national strategies.1 At that time, we stated that there should be only one
national strategy to combat terrorism. We added that additional planning
guidance (e.g., at more detailed levels for specific functions) should fall
under the one national strategy in a clear hierarchy. My testimony today is
based upon GAO’s body of work for this and other committees and
subcommittees conducted over the past 6 years—much of it related to
national strategies and their implementation. At the end of my statement is
a list of related GAO products.

Over the last year or so, the administration developed and published
several new national strategies related to combating terrorism. This
constellation of strategies generally replaces a single strategy issued in
December 1998—the Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency
Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan—that focused on federal
efforts. To date, we have identified 10 other national strategies related to
terrorism

•   National Security Strategy of the United States of America,
    September 2002;
•   National Strategy for Homeland Security, July 2002;
•   National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, February 2003;
•   National Military Strategy of the United States of America,
    September 1997;
•   National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, October
    2002;
•   National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, December
    2002;
•   National Money Laundering Strategy, July 2002;
•   National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, February 2003;
•   National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical
    Infrastructures and Key Assets, February 2003; and
•   National Drug Control Strategy, February 2002.



1
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Linking Threats to Strategies
and Resources GAO/T-NSIAD-00-218 (Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2000).



Page 1                                              GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
          In my statement today, after providing some background on the strategies,
          I will discuss the questions raised in your letter inviting GAO to testify. I
          have divided the five hearing questions into two major topics. The first
          major topic addresses whether the new national strategies form a
          framework that is cohesive and comprehensive. The second major topic
          addresses whether the strategies will facilitate implementation of
          programs that are strategy-driven, integrated, and effective. Both topics
          present difficult questions to answer definitively at this point. The
          strategies by themselves, no matter how cohesive and comprehensive, will
          not ensure a strategy-driven, integrated, and effective set of programs to
          combat terrorism. The ultimate value of these strategies will be in their
          implementation. Also related to implementation, 9 of the 10 strategies are
          less than 14 months old, and 3 are less than 1 month old. Notwithstanding
          these limitations, I will provide GAO’s observations to date on these
          strategies.

          In our past work, we have stressed the importance of a national strategy to
          combat terrorism.2 We stated that such a national strategy should provide
          a clear statement about what the nation hopes to achieve. A national
          strategy should not only define the roles of federal agencies, but also those
          of state and local governments, the private sector, and the international
          community. A national strategy also should establish goals, objectives,
          priorities, outcomes, milestones, and performance measures. In essence, a
          national strategy should incorporate the principles of the Government
          Performance and Results Act of 1993, which requires federal agencies to
          set strategic goals, measure performance, and report on the degree to
          which goals are met.3


          We view the new strategies as a positive step forward. While it will take
Summary   some time for us to fully evaluate whether they form a cohesive and
          comprehensive framework, there are some positive indications. The new
          strategies show cohesion in that they are organized in a hierarchy, share
          common themes, and cross-reference each other. For example, they
          provide high-level goals and objectives on the issues of national security in
          general, and how combating terrorism fits into that larger picture, how to
          provide for homeland security, and how to combat terrorism overseas. In


          2
           U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related
          Recommendations, GAO-01-822 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 20, 2001).
          3
              P.L. 103-62 (Aug. 3, 1993).



          Page 2                                             GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
addition, they provide more detailed goals and objectives for specific
functions or areas that include military operations, weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), money laundering, cyber security, and the protection
of physical infrastructures. In addition, the collective strategies are more
comprehensive than the single strategy they generally replace because,
consistent with our earlier recommendations, they include not just the
federal government, but also state and local governments, the private
sector, and the international community.

There will be many challenges to implementing these strategies in a
manner that is strategy-driven, integrated, and effective. Given the recency
of these strategies, it is premature to evaluate their collective
implementation.4 Regarding the question of whether these strategies are
driving programs, it is important to note that these strategies reflect a host
of pre-existing programs: Some of the programs to implement the new
strategies have been in place for several years. Nonetheless, the strategies
address the implementation of some programs more vigorously than
before. Regarding the integration of programs, it is important that federal
agencies have clear roles and responsibilities to combat terrorism. Given
the number of agencies, it is also important that there be mechanisms to
coordinate across agencies. We have identified federal agency roles and
responsibilities and coordination mechanisms for both homeland security
and combating terrorism overseas and will continue to evaluate their
effectiveness. For example, we recently have designated the
implementation and transformation of the Department of Homeland
Security as a high-risk federal activity. Moreover, implementation must
extend beyond the federal level to integrate these efforts with state and
local governments, the private sector, and the international community.
Regarding the effectiveness of these strategies, performance measures will
be important to monitor the successes of programs. One key to assessing
overall performance that we previously have identified is that strategies
should define an end-state—what the strategies are trying to achieve.
Some strategies meet this test, but they generally do not include detailed
performance measures. This raises the importance of individual federal
agencies having performance measures and reporting their progress.
Beyond federal agencies, national measures of success may require a
dialogue on appropriate performance measures for state and local



4
 However, GAO does have a variety of work recently published or under way to look at
more specific strategies and functions related to combating terrorism and homeland
security. See the attached list of related GAO products.



Page 3                                              GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                       governments, the private sector, and the international community. The
                       Congress also has an important role in authorizing, funding, and
                       overseeing the implementation of these strategies to protect the American
                       people from terrorism both at home and abroad.


                       National efforts to combat terrorism derive from a series of presidential
Background on          directives going back at least as far as 1986. The previous administration
National Strategies    issued a federal strategy for combating terrorism—the Attorney General’s
                       Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan—in
Related to Terrorism   1998.5 The Congress mandated this plan, which was intended to serve as a
                       baseline strategy for coordination of national policy and operational
                       capabilities to combat terrorism both at home and abroad.6 The
                       Department of Justice said that plan, in combination with several related
                       presidential directives, represented a comprehensive national strategy.
                       The plan identified several high-level goals aimed at preventing and
                       deterring terrorism, maximizing international cooperation to combat
                       terrorism, improving domestic crisis and consequence planning and
                       management, improving state and local capabilities, safeguarding
                       information infrastructure, and leading research and development efforts
                       to enhance counterterrorism capabilities. The plan set forth efforts by the
                       Department of Justice in partnership with other federal agencies to
                       improve readiness to address the terrorist threat. The Department of
                       Justice issued annual updates to the Five-Year Plan in 1999 and 2000,
                       which did not revise the basic plan but tracked agencies’ progress in
                       implementing the original plan. More recently, Justice Department officials
                       told us they are no longer providing annual updates because other
                       interagency plans have been released, as discussed below.

                       In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a series of new
                       national strategies were developed and published to help guide U.S. policy.
                       Some of these national strategies are specific to combating terrorism,




                       5
                        Another earlier and related plan was the International Crime Control Strategy, released
                       in May 1998. While not specific to terrorism, this plan had 8 overarching goals and 30
                       implementing objectives related to international crime. For more information, see U.S.
                       General Accounting Office, International Crime Control: Sustained Executive-Level
                       Coordination of Federal Response Needed, GAO-01-629 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 13, 2001).
                       6
                        Conference Committee Report (House Report 105-405), Nov. 13, 1997, accompanying the
                       Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations Act for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State;
                       the Judiciary; and related agencies (P.L. 105-119), Nov. 26, 1997.



                       Page 4                                               GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                                           while others involve terrorism to lesser degrees. Table 1 describes various
                                           national strategies related to combating terrorism.

Table 1: National Strategies Related to Combating Terrorism

Strategy                                   Description of strategy
National Security Strategy of the United   This document provides a broad framework for strengthening U.S. security in the future. It
States of America                          identifies the national security goals of the United States, describes the foreign policy and
• Issued by the President, September       military capabilities necessary to achieve those goals, evaluates the current status of
   2002                                    these capabilities, and explains how national power will be structured to utilize these
                                           capabilities. It devotes a chapter to combating terrorism that focuses on the disruption and
                                           destruction of terrorist organizations, the winning of the “war of ideas,” the strengthening
                                           of homeland security, and the fostering cooperation with allies and international
                                           organizations to combat terrorism.
National Strategy for Homeland Security    This document addresses the threat of terrorism within the United States by organizing
• Issued by the President, July 2002       the domestic efforts of federal, state, local, and private organizations. Although mostly
                                           domestic in focus, this strategy mentions various initiatives related to combating terrorism
                                           overseas, including: negotiating new international standards for travel documents,
                                           improving security for international shipping containers, enhancing cooperation with
                                           foreign law enforcement agencies, expanding specialized training and assistance to allies,
                                           and increasing the security of transnational infrastructure. The strategy stresses the
                                           importance of expanding international cooperation in research and development and
                                           enhancing the coordination of incident response. Finally, the strategy recommends
                                           reviewing current international treaties and law to determine where improvements could
                                           be made.
National Strategy for Combating            This document elaborates on the terrorism aspects of the National Security Strategy of the
Terrorism                                  United States of America by expounding on the need to destroy terrorist organizations,
• Issued by the President, February        win the “war of ideas,” and strengthen security at home and abroad. Unlike the National
  2003                                     Strategy for Homeland Security that focuses on preventing terrorist attacks within the
                                           United States, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism focuses on identifying and
                                           defusing threats before they reach the borders of the United States. In that sense,
                                           although it has defensive elements, this strategy is an offensive strategy to complement
                                           the defensive National Strategy for Homeland Security.
National Military Strategy of the United   This document sets the strategic direction for all aspects of the Armed Forces. This
States of America                          includes force structure, acquisition, and doctrine as well as the strategic environment.
• Issued by the Chairman of the Joint      The 1997 strategy notes the rising danger of asymmetric threats, such as terrorism. The
  Chiefs of Staff, September 1997          strategy stresses the need for the military to adapt its doctrine, training, and equipment to
                                           ensure a rapid and effective joint and interagency response to these threats.
National Military Strategic Plan for the   This document provides a framework to guide the conduct of the “war on terrorism” by
War on Terrorism                           U.S. Armed Forces. It provides specific guidance from which regional commanders, the
• Issued by the Chairman of the Joint      military services, and other agencies can formulate their own individual action plans.
  Chiefs of Staff, October 2002            Individual regional commands drafted their own campaign plans in response to this plan.
                                           For example, one regional command plans to conduct maritime interception operations to
                                           disrupt terrorists’ use of commercial shipping to transport people and material.
National Strategy to Combat Weapons of     This document presents a national strategy to combat weapons of mass destruction
Mass Destruction                           through three major efforts: (1) nonproliferation, (2) counterproliferation, and (3)
• Issued by the President, December        consequence management in WMD incidents. The plan addresses the production and
  2002                                     proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among states, as well as the potential threat
                                           of terrorists using WMD agents.




                                           Page 5                                                 GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
 Strategy                                     Description of strategy
 National Money Laundering Strategy           This document is intended to support planning for the efforts of law enforcement agencies,
 • Issued by the Secretary of the             regulatory officials, the private sector, and overseas entities to combat the laundering of
    Treasury and the Attorney General,        money generated from criminal activities. Although the 2002 strategy still addresses
    July 2002                                 general criminal financial activity, that plan is the first to outline a major governmentwide
                                              strategy to combat terrorist financing. The strategy discusses the need to adapt traditional
                                              methods of combating money laundering to unconventional tools used by terrorist
                                              organizations to finance their operations.
 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace       This document is intended to provide an initial framework for both organizing and
 • Issued by the President, February          prioritizing efforts to protect our nation’s critical cyber infrastructures. Also, it is to provide
   2003                                       direction to federal departments and agencies that have roles in cyberspace security and
                                              to identify steps that state and local governments, private companies and organizations,
                                              and individual Americans can take to improve the nation’s collective cybersecurity. The
                                              strategy is organized according to five national priorities, with major actions and initiatives
                                              identified for each. These priorities are: (1) a National Cyberspace Security Response
                                              System, (2) a National Cyberspace Security Threat and Vulnerability Reduction Program,
                                              (3) a National Cyberspace Security Awareness and Training Program, (4) Securing
                                              Governments’ Cyberspace, and (5) National Security and International Cyberspace
                                              Security Cooperation. In describing the threats and vulnerabilities for the nation’s
                                              cyberspace, the strategy highlights the potential for damage to U.S. information systems
                                              from attacks by overseas terrorist organizations.
 National Strategy for the Physical           This document provides a statement of national policy to remain committed to protecting
 Protection of Critical Infrastructures and   critical infrastructures and key assets from terrorist attacks, and it is based on eight
 Key Assets                                   guiding principles, including establishing responsibility and accountability, encouraging
 • Issued by the President, February          and facilitating partnering among all levels of government and between government and
   2003                                       industry, and encouraging market solutions wherever possible and government
                                              intervention when needed. The strategy also establishes three strategic objectives. The
                                              first is to identify and assure the protection of the most critical assets, systems, and
                                              functions, in terms of national-level public health and safety, governance, and economic
                                              and national security and public confidence. The second is to assure protection of
                                              infrastructures and assets facing specific, imminent threats. The third is to pursue
                                              collaborative measures and initiatives to assure the protection of other potential targets
                                              that may become attractive over time.
 National Drug Control Strategy               This document sets specific national goals for reducing drug use in America. The report
 • Issued by the President, February          underscores the need for international law enforcement cooperation to combat this
   2002                                       problem. Although the plan does not directly deal with combating terrorism, it highlights
                                              drug revenue as a source of funding for 12 of the 28 international terrorist groups
                                              identified by the Department of State.
Source: Published national strategies.

                                              Note: GAO analysis of published national strategies.




Some Strategies Define                        The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, the
Terrorism and Include an                      National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, and the National Strategy
Assessment of the Threat                      for Homeland Security all define terrorism. For example, the National
                                              Strategy for Homeland Security characterizes terrorism as “any
                                              premeditated, unlawful act dangerous to human life or public welfare that
                                              is intended to intimidate or coerce civilian populations or governments.”
                                              This description, according to that strategy, captures the core concepts
                                              shared by the various definitions of terrorism contained in the U.S. Code,


                                              Page 6                                                     GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
each crafted to achieve a legal standard of specificity and clarity. This
description covers kidnappings; hijackings; shootings; conventional
bombings; attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear
weapons; cyber attacks; and any number of other forms of malicious
violence. Terrorists can be U.S. citizens or foreigners, acting in concert
with others, on their own, or on behalf of a hostile state.

Commonly accepted definitions of such terms as terrorism and homeland
security help provide assurance that organizational, management, and
budgetary decisions are made consistently across the organizations
involved in a crosscutting effort. For example, they help guide agencies in
organizing and allocating resources and can help promote more effective
agency and intergovernmental operations by facilitating communication. A
common definition also can help to enforce budget discipline and support
more accurate monitoring of expenditures. Without commonly accepted
definitions, the potential exists for an uncoordinated approach to
combating terrorism caused by duplication of efforts or gaps in coverage,
misallocation of resources, and inadequate monitoring of expenditures.
We previously recommended that the President direct the Office of
Homeland Security to (1) develop a comprehensive, governmentwide
definition of homeland security and (2) include the definition in the [then]
forthcoming national strategy.7 Both recommendations were implemented
with the publication of the National Strategy for Homeland Security.

As we have testified before this subcommittee, an important step in
developing sound strategies to combat terrorism is to develop a thorough
assessment of the terrorist threat. Intelligence and law enforcement
agencies continuously assess the foreign and domestic terrorist threats to
the United States. To be considered a threat, a terrorist group must not
only exist, but also have the intention and capability to launch attacks.8 In
prior reports, we have recommended that the federal government conduct
multidisciplinary and analytically sound threat assessments. Threat
assessments are part of a risk management approach that can be used to




7
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Key Elements to Unify Efforts Are
Underway but Uncertainty Remains, GAO-02-610 (Washington, D.C.: June 7, 2002).
8
 Other factors to consider in analyzing threats include a terrorist group’s history, its
targeting, and the security environment in which it operates.



Page 7                                                   GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
establish requirements and prioritize program investments. 9 In 1999 we
recommended that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conduct a
national-level authoritative threat assessment.10 According to FBI officials,
they have recently completed their threat assessment related to our
recommendation. We are in the process of reviewing the assessment to
determine the extent it is consistent with our recommendation. We hope
that such an assessment will be kept up to date and used to further
develop and implement the new national strategies related to combating
terrorism.

Some of the new strategies we reviewed include some assessment of the
threat. While some of the new strategies lay out the nature of the threats
and the vulnerabilities in detail, others briefly describe the threat in
general terms. For example, the National Strategy for Combating
Terrorism discusses the nature of the terrorist threat today, including the
structure of terrorism, the changing nature of terrorism, the
interconnected terrorist organizations, the availability of weapons of mass
destruction, and the new global environment. Some strategies describe
both the threat of and vulnerability to terrorist attacks. For example, the
National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace discusses cyberspace threats and
vulnerabilities facing the United States. It lays out the threats and
vulnerabilities as a five-level problem—home user/small business, large
enterprises, critical sectors and/or infrastructures, national issues and
vulnerabilities, and global. Also, the National Strategy for the Physical
Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets and the National
Strategy for Homeland Security discuss both the threat and vulnerability
of a terrorist attack. Other strategies we reviewed only briefly described
the threat or simply defined the threat in general terms. For example, the
National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction defined the
threat, while the National Money Laundering Strategy provided limited
discussion about the nature and extent of the threat.




9
 For more information on a risk management approach, see U.S. General Accounting
Office, Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments Can Help Prioritize and
Target Program Investments, GAO/NSIAD-98-74 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 9, 1998) and U.S.
General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: A Risk Management Approach Can
Guide Preparedness Efforts, GAO-02-208T (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31, 2001).
10
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Need for Comprehensive Threat
and Risk Assessments of Chemical and Biological Attacks, GAO/NSIAD-99-163
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 7, 1999).



Page 8                                             GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                       Now I will discuss the key topics that the subcommittee wants to address
New Strategies Form    in this hearing, starting with the question of whether the new national
Framework              strategies form a cohesive and comprehensive framework. While it will
                       take some time for us to fully answer this question, we view the new
                       strategies, and the framework they provide, as a positive step. The new
                       strategies show cohesion in that they are organized in a hierarchy, share
                       common themes, and cross-reference each other. In addition, the
                       collective strategies are more comprehensive than the single strategy they
                       generally replace because they include more detailed functions and more
                       players.


New Strategies Show    In our analysis, we found specific indicators that the strategies form a
Cohesion through       cohesive framework. For the purpose of this testimony, we are defining
Hierarchy, Common      cohesiveness as the extent that the strategies have some hierarchy, share
                       common themes, and link to each other.
Themes, and Linkages
                       Regarding a hierarchy among strategies, I would like to again reference
                       our July 2000 testimony. At that time, we stated that there should be one
                       national strategy to combat terrorism with additional planning guidance
                       (e.g., for specific functions) under the one strategy in a clear hierarchy.11
                       While the administration has not taken that exact path, its approach is
                       similar. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America
                       provides the overarching strategy related to national security as a whole,
                       including terrorism. The National Strategy for Homeland Security and
                       the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism provide, respectively, the
                       more specific strategies related to combating terrorism at home and
                       overseas. This differs from what we had envisioned in that there are two
                       top-level strategies dedicated to terrorism instead of one. However, this
                       approach is consistent with our earlier views because the two strategies
                       cover separate topics—the first covers defensive domestic issues and the




                       11
                         In that testimony, we also cited the potential danger from a proliferation of overarching
                       national strategies to combat terrorism. At that time, the National Security Council and the
                       FBI were planning to develop national strategies that would potentially compete with the
                       Attorney General’s Five-Year Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan. The recent
                       constellation of new strategies generally is coordinated out of the Executive Office of the
                       President or addresses different specific functions or subsets of combating terrorism.


                       Page 9                                                 GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
second covers offensive overseas issues.12 The other strategies provide
further levels of detail on the specific functions related to military
operations, money laundering, weapons of mass destruction, cyber
security, and protection of physical infrastructure.

Our interpretation of the hierarchy among strategies is somewhat different
from how the administration has presented it. According to the
administration, the National Security Strategy of the United States of
America and the National Strategy for Homeland Security are top-level
strategies that together address U.S. security both overseas and
domestically. According to the administration, these two strategies
establish a framework that takes precedence over all other national
strategies, plans, and programs. However, we do not view the hierarchy as
that absolute because some strategies contain independent elements that
do not overlap with the other strategies. For an example of the latter, both
the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the National Money
Laundering Strategy include some domestic criminal elements not
associated with national security or terrorism. Further, the National Drug
Control Strategy has relatively little overlap with these other strategies.
Figure 1 is an attempt to display graphically how some of these national
strategies fit into a hierarchy and overlap.




12
  We recognize that this characterization of the strategies simplifies a complex relationship
between the two. Both strategies contain both defensive and offensive elements. For
example, while we characterize the National Strategy for Homeland Security as mainly
defensive, it includes offensive initiatives to target and attack terrorist financing, and to
track foreign terrorists and bring them to justice. Similarly, while we characterize the
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism as mainly offensive, it includes defensive
objectives to implement the National Strategy for Homeland Security and to protect U.S.
citizens abroad.



Page 10                                                GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
Figure 1: Relationships between and among National Strategies Related to Combating Terrorism




                                       Note: This graphic is intended to show relationships and overlaps among these national strategies.
                                       The sizes and shapes of the boxes are not meant to imply the relative importance of all the strategies.




                                       Page 11                                                      GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
Within the hierarchy of strategies, more detailed functional strategies
might be useful, as illustrated by the National Strategy to Combat
Weapons of Mass Destruction. In our August 2002, report on the
Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s
research and development (R&D) program, we recommended that the
Office of Homeland Security clarify that agency’s Nonproliferation and
Verification R&D Program’s role in relation to other agencies conducting
counterterrorism R&D and to achieve an appropriate balance between
short-term and long-term research.13 We also reported that there is a
conflict among Department of Energy laboratories between short- versus
long-term research and that this conflict has created a gap in which the
most important immediate needs of users, or highest risks, are in some
cases going unaddressed in favor of an advanced technology that only can
be delivered over the long term. The National Strategy to Combat
Weapons of Mass Destruction addresses our concerns, in part, by noting
that the new Counterproliferation Technology Coordination Committee
will act to improve interagency coordination of U.S. government
counterproliferation research and development efforts. The committee is
expected to assist in identifying gaps and overlaps in existing programs
and in examining options for future investment strategies.

The various strategies also show cohesion by sharing common themes.
For example, nearly all of the strategies contain either goals or objectives
relating to strengthening international relationships and cooperation and
strengthening intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities, while just
over half of the strategies contain either goals or objectives relevant to the
strengthening of capabilities to deter, prevent, and respond to weapons of
mass destruction. Moreover, among the four strategies most relevant to
homeland securitythe National Strategy for Homeland Security, the
National Strategy for Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and
Key Assets, the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, and the National
Money Laundering Strategy all contain a number of additional, similar
themes. With the exception of the National Money Laundering Strategy,
which does not address critical infrastructure and key asset protection, all
of these homeland security-related strategies contain either goals or
objectives aimed at strengthening intergovernmental and private sector
relationships, critical infrastructure and key asset protection, and



13
  U.S. General Accounting Office Nonproliferation R&D: NNSA’s Program Develops
Successful Technologies, but Project Management Can Be Strengthened, GAO-02-904
(Washington, D.C.: Aug. 23, 2002).



Page 12                                           GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
information-sharing capabilities. Similarly, among the strategies more
relevant to combating terrorism overseassuch as the National Security
Strategy of the United States of America, the National Strategy for
Combating Terrorism, the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass
Destruction, and the National Military Strategy of the United States of
Americaall contain either goals or objectives relating to strengthening
international relationships; strengthening intelligence gathering and
analysis capabilities; and improving capabilities to deter, prevent, and
respond to weapons of mass destruction. As mentioned earlier, the
National Drug Control Strategy has relatively little overlap with the other
strategies. It does not share many of these themeswith the exception of
strengthening border control capabilities and, to some extent, the
strengthening of international relationships and cooperation.

In addition, the strategies show evidence of cohesion through linkages
among them. These linkages occur through specific citations and cross-
references from one document to another. At least half of the strategies
cite either the National Security Strategy of the United States of America
or the National Strategy for Homeland Security. The most extensively
linked strategies include the National Security Strategy of the United
States of America, the National Strategy for Homeland Security, the
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, and the National Strategy to
Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. Strategies that cover topics
beyond terrorism, such as criminal law enforcement, are less extensively
linked to these documents. For example, the National Strategy to Secure
Cyberspace and the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of
Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets solely cite each other and the
National Strategy for Homeland Security. The National Drug Control
Strategy and the National Money Laundering Strategy contain no explicit
linkages to any of the other strategies, but are referenced in the National
Strategy for Homeland Security. There are some areas where linkages
could be improved. For example, the National Strategy for Homeland
Security is the only strategy to explicitly cite virtually all of the strategies
and explain their relationships to it and to one another. Some strategies
contain broad themes that are covered in more detail by other strategies,
but do not cite these documents. For instance, although the National
Strategy for Combating Terrorism mentions the topic of terrorist
financing, it does not mention the National Money Laundering Strategy.
Nevertheless, it mentions the National Drug Control Strategy, a document
with considerably less thematic overlap in terms of terrorism. The
National Security Strategy of the United States of America covers many
broad strategic themes, but refers to no other national strategies, although
many of the strategies refer back to it.

Page 13                                        GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
New Strategies Include   Potential indicators of comprehensiveness are whether the strategies
Key Functions and        include all relevant functions and organizations. As stated earlier, they
Organizations            collectively provide not only the broader context of combating terrorism,
                         but also the more detailed strategies for the functions of military
                         operations, money laundering, weapons of mass destruction, cyber
                         security, and protection of physical infrastructure. While parts of the
                         strategies overlap, GAO has not yet done a complete analysis to determine
                         whether gaps exist in the collective coverage of these strategies. However,
                         some of our work for this subcommittee indicates that intelligence is a
                         critical function that cuts across all the other strategies, but does not have
                         a strategy itself related to terrorism, at least according to Central
                         Intelligence Agency officials with whom we spoke.

                         Regarding the inclusion of all relevant organizations, the collective
                         strategies are more comprehensive than the Attorney General’s Five-Year
                         Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan that they
                         generally replaced. In our September 2001 report on combating domestic
                         terrorism, we had characterized this plan as a “federal” plan and not a
                         “national” plan because it did not include state and local governments,
                         where appropriate.14 In addition, our more recent work on homeland
                         security stressed the need for partnerships with state and local
                         governments and the private sector.15 Consistent with GAO’s earlier
                         findings and recommendations, some of the new strategies include not just
                         the federal government, but also these other players as well as the
                         international community.


                         The strategies by themselves, no matter how cohesive and comprehensive,
Potential Challenges     will not ensure a strategy-driven, integrated, and effective set of programs
in Implementing the      to combat terrorism. The ability to ensure these things will be determined
                         through time as the strategies are implemented. Given that these strategies
Strategies               are relatively new, GAO has not yet evaluated their implementation, either
                         individually or collectively. However, we have done work that
                         demonstrates the federal government, and the nation as a whole, will face
                         many implementation challenges. For example, we have designated the
                         implementation and transformation of the Department of Homeland



                         14
                              See GAO-01-822.
                         15
                           U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Management Challenges Facing
                         Federal Leadership, GAO-03-260 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 20, 2002).



                         Page 14                                           GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                          Security as a high-risk federal activity. The Congress also will play a key
                          role in implementing these strategies.


New Strategies Reflect    Regarding the question of whether these strategies are driving programs, it
Long-Standing Programs    is important to note that these new strategies reflect a host of pre-existing
                          programs. For example, certain themes and related programs contained in
                          the new strategiespreventing and deterring terrorism, maximizing
                          international cooperation to combat terrorism, improving domestic crisis
                          and consequence planning and management, improving state and local
                          capabilities, safeguarding information infrastructure, and leading research
                          and development efforts to enhance counterterrorism capabilities—were
                          included in the Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency
                          Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan. Some of the related
                          policies and programs have been in place for several years. For example,
                          the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program, which provides
                          assistance to other countries to improve their capabilities, has existed
                          since 1983. In another example, federal assistance programs for state and
                          local first responders to help them prepare to respond to weapons of mass
                          destruction—the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici training—was established in 1996.


Implementation Requires   Integrating federal agencies is a major challenge in implementing the new
Integration Among Many    strategies. It is important, for example, that federal agencies have clearly
Sectors                   defined roles and responsibilities. The new strategies define the roles and
                          responsibilities of agencies for functional areas to varying degrees. Some
                          of the strategies described lead agency roles responsibilities in detail. For
                          example, the National Strategy for Homeland Security described lead
                          agency responsibilities for various functional areas, such as intelligence
                          and warning, border and transportation security, and protecting critical
                          infrastructure and key assets. Other strategies, including the National
                          Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key
                          Assets and the National Money Laundering Strategy, also identified key
                          agencies’ roles and responsibilities in leading various functional areas.
                          Other strategies we reviewed either were silent in terms of identifying
                          agencies to lead functional areas or only generally described agency roles
                          and responsibilities. For example, the National Strategy to Combat
                          Weapons of Mass Destruction focused more on areas of national priorities
                          and initiatives and did not identify agency roles and responsibilities. In
                          addition, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism only briefly
                          identified lead functional areas for agencies. We recognize that documents
                          other than these strategies, such as presidential directives, also assign
                          agency roles.

                          Page 15                                       GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                           A key component in integrating federal agencies is interagency
                           coordination. While the strategies generally do not address such
                           coordination mechanisms, we identified them for both homeland security
                           and combating terrorism overseas. Homeland security is coordinated
                           through the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security
                           Council, which have 11 interagency working groups (called policy
                           coordination committees) to manage crosscutting issues in such areas as
                           detection, surveillance, and intelligence; law enforcement and
                           investigation; and WMD consequence management. The Department of
                           Homeland Security is responsible for coordination with other federal
                           agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector. In addition,
                           the new department will serve a coordination role by consolidating several
                           agencies that currently are under separate departments. In combating
                           terrorism overseas, the National Security Council plays a major
                           coordinating role by sponsoring a policy coordination committee called
                           the Counterterrorism Security Group, which has several subordinate
                           interagency working groups on such topics as interagency exercises and
                           assistance to other countries. Coordination overseas occurs in other ways
                           as well, through interagency groups at U.S. embassies and regional
                           military commands.

                           The challenge of integration goes beyond the federal level to include state
                           and local governments, the private sector, and the international
                           community. As mentioned earlier, the strategies do address these other
                           entities, but in varying degrees of detail. For example, the National
                           Strategy for Homeland Security and the National Strategy for the
                           Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets provide
                           extended discussions of the importance of partnerships among various
                           federal agencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and to a
                           lesser degree, the international community. In contrast, the National
                           Security Strategy of the United States of America discusses the role of
                           the international community in more general terms.


New Strategies Generally   Performance measures are important for monitoring the successes of
Do Not Include             strategies and their related programs. One key to assessing overall
Performance Measures       performance that we have previously called for in strategies is that they
                           define an end-state—what a strategy is trying to achieve. Some of these
                           strategies do this, although the clarity of their end-states varies
                           considerably. For instance, the National Strategy for Combating
                           Terrorism details a very specific desired end-state where the scope and
                           capabilities of global terrorist organizations are reduced until they become
                           localized, unorganized, unsponsored, and rare enough that they can be

                           Page 16                                      GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
dealt with exclusively by criminal law enforcement. Other end-states focus
on federal capabilities, rather than the terrorist target. For example, the
National Strategy for Homeland Security stresses the need for a fully
integrated national emergency response system that is adaptable enough
to deal with any terrorist attack, no matter how unlikely or catastrophic.
Finally, some end-states are more strategic in nature, the prime example
belonging to the National Security Strategy of the United States of
America, which seeks to create a “balance of power that favors human
freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for
themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty.”

Although some strategies identify an end-state, most strategies lack
detailed performance goals and measures to monitor and evaluate the
success of combating terrorism programs. In our past work concerning a
national strategy for homeland security, we said the national strategy
should establish explicit national objectives, outcome-related goals, and
performance measures to guide the nation’s homeland security efforts.
This approach would provide a clearer statement on what the nation
hopes to achieve through its programs to combat terrorism. The strategies
generally describe overarching objectives and priorities, but not
measurable outcomes. More explicit actions or initiatives in some of the
plans begin to provide a greater sense of what is expected, but these often
are in the form of activities or processes, which are not results-oriented
outcomes. For example, the National Strategy for the Physical Protection
of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets discusses coordinating and
consolidating federal and state protection plans, but does not give a clear
description of the result of such coordination and consolidation. The
National Money Laundering Strategy devotes a section to measuring
effectiveness and calls for developing measures and institutionalizing
systems for such measures.

The general lack of specific performance goals and measures in the
strategies makes it more important that individual federal agencies have
explicit performance goals and related measures. The primary vehicle for
setting federal strategic and annual performance goals is the Government
Performance and Results Act of 1993, commonly referred to as GPRA or
the Results Act. 16 The Results Act provides agencies with a systematic
approach for managing programs. The Results Act’s principles include
clarifying missions, developing a strategy, identifying goals and objectives,


16
     P.L. 103-62 (Aug. 3, 1993).



Page 17                                       GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
and establishing performance measures. We believe that federal agencies
with national strategy responsibilities should address them through the
Results Act process.

The Department of State is an example of an individual agency that has
performance measures related to combating terrorism. The department’s
Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2003 specifically identifies countering
terrorism as one of the department’s strategic goals. The goal is to reduce
international terrorist attacks, especially against the United States and its
citizens. To measure its progress toward achieving this goal, the
department identified the following performance indicators and targets for
fiscal year 2003:

•   Some 25 bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism consultations will
    be completed.
•   Some 96 countries will implement United Nations Security Council
    Resolution 1373, which requires all member states to suppress and
    prevent terrorism.
•   Some 210 Antiterrorism Assistance training courses will be provided to
    60 countries, with all programs reviewed within 18 months after the
    training. This training is expected to increase the ability of key
    countries to fight terrorism.
•   The Foreign Emergency Support Team will deploy to participate in two
    of the Combatant Commanders’ International Counterterrorism
    Exercises.
•   All of the reviews of foreign terrorist organizations will be completed
    within 1 year.

Beyond federal agencies, national goals and measures of success may
warrant a dialogue about performance goals and measures for nonfederal
partners—state and local governments, the private sector, and the
international community. In the absence of definitive nonfederal goal and
measurement approaches, we believe there is a strong potential the
national strategies will revert to primarily a federal responsibility. While
this is a difficult area given federalism principles, international
sovereignty, and private sector independence, national strategies to
combat terrorism require national (and international) performance
expectations if they are to be successfully implemented.




Page 18                                       GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
Many Other Management   In addition to the implementation issues in the subcommittee’s letter—
Issues Will Make        whether implementation will be strategy-driven, integrated, and
Implementation a        effective—we have identified several other management challenges. Our
                        previous work regarding homeland security and the establishment of the
Challenge               Department of Homeland Security raised several issues that are applicable
                        to implementing the new strategies.17 We designated the implementation
                        and transformation of the department as a high risk for three reasons.
                        First, the size and complexity of the effort make the challenge especially
                        daunting, requiring sustained attention and time to achieve the
                        department’s mission in an effective and efficient manner. Second,
                        components being merged into the department already face a wide variety
                        of existing challenges that must be addressed. Finally, the department’s
                        failure to effectively carry out its mission exposes the nation to potentially
                        very serious consequences.

                        Successful implementation will require adherence to certain management
                        practices and key success factors. These factors include strategic
                        planning, risk management, information technology management, human
                        capital strategy and management, and a variety of other critical
                        management processes and tools that will improve opportunities for
                        achieving significant combating-terrorism objectives. For example, strong
                        financial management will be necessary to assure accountability over
                        significant direct and indirect federal expenditures. Improvements in
                        leveraging information technology also will be necessary to not only
                        enhance the effective utilization of management systems, but also to
                        increase information sharing among and between all parties. Additionally,
                        implementing the strategic framework for combating terrorism will require
                        addressing key, specific federal management capabilities. Some of the
                        federal departments and agencies assigned to carry out the strategy face
                        management challenges in administering their programs, managing their
                        human capital, and implementing and securing information technology
                        systems. Federal agencies will need to address these challenges as well as
                        develop or enhance specific homeland security management capabilities,
                        such as identifying threats, risks, vulnerabilities, and responses and
                        effectively working in interagency, intergovernmental, and private sector
                        relationships.


                        17
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:
                        Department of Homeland Security, GAO-03-102 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 2003);
                        GAO-03-260; and U.S. General Accounting Office, Highlights of a GAO Forum: Mergers
                        and Transformation: Lessons Learned for a Department of Homeland Security and
                        Other Federal Agencies, GAO-03-293SP (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 14, 2002).



                        Page 19                                            GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                        Similarly, we must recognize that a number of agencies will face
                        challenges in meeting dual or unrelated missions while maintaining and
                        strengthening their combating terrorism operations. Additional actions to
                        clarify missions and activities will be necessary, and some agencies will
                        need to determine how best to support both combating terrorism and non-
                        combating terrorism missions. For example, in a recent report we raised
                        issues regarding the need for the Federal Emergency Management Agency
                        and U.S. Coast Guard—both now part of the Department of Homeland
                        Security—to balance multiple missions.18 Creating an effective structure
                        that is sensitive to balancing the needs of homeland security and non-
                        homeland security functions will be critical to the successful
                        implementation of the strategies.

                        Finally, many agencies tasked with carrying out the initiatives and
                        objectives of the various strategies have long-standing human capital
                        problems that will need to be addressed. One of these challenges has been
                        the ability to hire and retain a talented and motivated staff. For example,
                        we reported that the Immigration and Naturalization Service was unable to
                        reach its program goals in large part because of such staffing problems as
                        hiring shortfalls and agent attrition.19 Moreover, to accomplish national
                        and homeland security missions some agencies have recognized the need
                        for new skills in the workforce. It is anticipated that agencies will need
                        employees skilled in information technology, law enforcement, foreign
                        languages, and other proficiencies. For example, we have reported that the
                        FBI has an action plan to hire translators, interpreters, and special agents
                        with language skills—areas where the federal government currently has a
                        shortage.20


The Next Steps in       To implement the new constellation of national strategies, we see some
Implementing Programs   additional next steps that should be taken. These are based upon our body
to Combat Terrorism     of work on federal programs to combat terrorism. Among other unfinished
                        business, the Executive Branch will have to (1) establish and refine
                        performance measures, (2) establish milestones for completing tasks, (3)


                        18
                             GAO-03-102.
                        19
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Immigration Enforcement: Challenges to Implementing
                        the INS Interior Enforcement Strategy, GAO-02-861T (Washington, D.C.: June 19, 2002).
                        20
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Foreign Languages: Human Capital Approach Needed
                        to Correct Staffing and Proficiency Shortfalls, GAO-02-375 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31,
                        2002).



                        Page 20                                             GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
                         link resources to threats and strategies, and (4) use a risk management
                         approach.


The Congress Will Play   The Congress will play an important role as well in addressing the
an Important Role in     challenges faced in implementing these strategies. The Congress recently
Implementing the         passed legislation reorganizing the federal government to combat
                         terrorism by creating the Department of Homeland Security. The Congress
Strategies               will be appropriating funds—billions of dollars—to that department and
                         other federal agencies that combat terrorism. And finally, the Congress
                         will need to provide oversight, in hearings like this one today, to ensure
                         that the programs are appropriately designed and implemented. GAO will
                         continue to assist this subcommittee, and the Congress as a whole, in
                         helping the federal government develop and implement programs to
                         protect the United States from terrorism both at home and abroad.


                         This concludes my prepared statement. I will be pleased to respond to any
                         questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may have.




                         Page 21                                      GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments


                  Raymond J. Decker at (202) 512-6020.
GAO Contact
                  Individuals making key contributions to this statement include Stephen L.
Acknowledgments   Caldwell, Mark A. Pross, Sharon L. Caudle, James C. Lawson, David W.
                  Hancock, Michael S. Arbogast, Susan K. Woodward, and David S. Epstein.




                  Page 22                                     GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
Related GAO Products


             Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
             Homeland Security. GAO-03-102. Washington, D.C.: January 2003.

             Homeland Security: Management Challenges Facing Federal Leadership.
             GAO-03-260. Washington, D.C.: December 20, 2002.

             Combating Terrorism: Funding Data Reported to Congress Should Be
             Improved. GAO-03-170. Washington, D.C.: November 26, 2002.

             Highlights of a GAO Forum: Mergers and Transformation: Lessons
             Learned for a Department of Homeland Security and Other Federal
             Agencies. GAO-03-293SP. Washington, D.C.: November 14, 2002.

             Homeland Security: Effective Intergovernmental Coordination Is Key to
             Success. GAO-02-1013T. Washington, D.C.: August 23, 2002.

             Nonproliferation R&D: NNSA’s Program Develops Successful
             Technologies, but Project Management Can Be Strengthened. GAO-02-904.
             Washington, D.C.: August 23, 2002.

             Immigration Enforcement: Challenges to Implementing the INS Interior
             Enforcement Strategy. GAO-02-861T. Washington, D.C.: June 19, 2002.

             Homeland Security: Key Elements to Unify Efforts Are Underway but
             Uncertainty Remains. GAO-02-610. Washington, D.C.: June 7, 2002.

             Foreign Languages: Human Capital Approach Needed to Correct
             Staffing and Proficiency Shortfalls. GAO-02-375. Washington, D.C.: Jan.
             31, 2002.

             Homeland Security: A Risk Management Approach Can Guide
             Preparedness Efforts. GAO-02-208T. Washington, D.C.: October 31, 2001.

             Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related
             Recommendations. GAO-01-822. Washington, D.C.: September 20, 2001.

             International Crime Control: Sustained Executive-Level Coordination of
             Federal Response Needed. GAO-01-629. Washington, D.C.: August 13, 2001.

             Combating Terrorism: Observations on Options to Improve the Federal
             Response. GAO-01-660T. Washington, D.C.: April 24, 2001.




             Page 23                                     GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
Combating Terrorism: Comments on Counterterrorism Leadership and
National Strategy. GAO-01-556T. Washington, D.C.: March 27, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Federal Response Teams Provide Varied
Capabilities: Opportunities Remain to Improve Coordination.
GAO-01-14. Washington, D.C.: November 30, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: Linking Threats to Strategies and Resources.
GAO/T-NSIAD-00-218. Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: Comments on Bill H.R. 4210 to Manage Selected
Counterterrorist Programs. GAO/T-NSIAD-00-172. Washington, D.C.: May
4, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: How Five Foreign Countries Are Organized to
Combat Terrorism. GAO/NSIAD-00-85. Washington, D.C.: April 7, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: Issues in Managing Counterterrorist Programs.
GAO/T-NSIAD-00-145. Washington, D.C.: April 6, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Threat of Chemical and
Biological Terrorism. GAO/T-NSIAD-00-50. Washington, D.C.: October 20,
1999.

Combating Terrorism: Need for Comprehensive Threat and Risk
Assessments of Chemical and Biological Attacks. GAO/NSIAD-99-163.
Washington, D.C.: September 7, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Issues to Be Resolved to Improve
Counterterrorism Operations. GAO/NSIAD-99-135. Washington, D.C.: May
13, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Federal Spending to Combat
Terrorism. GAO/T-NSIAD/GGD-99-107. Washington, D.C.: March 11, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Crosscutting Issues.
GAO/T-NSIAD-98-164. Washington, D.C.: April 23, 1998.

Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments Can Help Prioritize
and Target Program Investments. GAO/NSIAD-98-74. Washington, D.C.:
April 9, 1998.




Page 24                                   GAO-03-519T Combating Terrorism
           Combating Terrorism: Spending on Governmentwide Programs
           Requires Better Management and Coordination. GAO/NSIAD-98-39.
           Washington, D.C.: December 1, 1997.

           Combating Terrorism: Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Implement National
           Policy and Strategy. GAO/NSIAD-97-254. Washington, D.C.: September 26,
           1997.




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