oversight

Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: Testing Status and Views on Operational Viability of Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis Technology

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-04-13.

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

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to the Subcommittee on Treasury
                and General Government, Committee on
                Appropriations, U.S. Senate


April 1999
                TERRORISM AND
                DRUG TRAFFICKING
                Testing Status and
                Views on Operational
                Viability of Pulsed Fast
                Neutron Analysis
                Technology




GAO/GGD-99-54
GAO                United States
                   General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   General Government Division



                   B-281213

                   April 13, 1999

                   The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell
                   Chairman
                   The Honorable Byron Dorgan
                   Ranking Minority Member
                   Subcommittee on Treasury and General Government
                   Committee on Appropriations
                   United States Senate

                   In its counterterrorism and counterdrug efforts, the federal government
                   has invested considerable funds in recent years to develop technologies
                                                           1
                   for detecting explosives and narcotics. Along with X-ray and other
                   nonintrusive inspection systems, one type of technology under
                   development is a pulsed fast neutron analysis (PFNA) inspection system,
                   which is designed to directly and automatically detect and measure the
                   presence of specific materials (e.g., cocaine) by exposing their constituent
                   chemical elements to short bursts of subatomic particles called neutrons.
                   Over the years, several federal agencies—including the Customs Service,
                   the Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Aviation Administration
                   (FAA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)—have
                   been interacting, to various degrees, with the system inventor (Ancore
                   Corporation, located in Santa Clara, CA) to develop a PFNA system for
                   federal use.

                   As directed by the Senate Report accompanying the fiscal year 1999
                                                                            2
                   Treasury and General Government Appropriations Bill, this report
                   provides information about (1) the status of plans for field testing a PFNA
                   inspection system for counterterrorism and/or counterdrug purposes and
                   (2) federal agency and vendor views on the operational viability of such a
                   system.

                   Customs, DOD, FAA, and Ancore recently began planning to field test
Results in Brief   PFNA. Because they are in the early stage of planning, they do not expect
                   the actual field test to begin until mid to late 1999 at the earliest. Generally,
                   agency and vendor officials estimate that a field test covering Customs’
                   1
                    See, for example, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: Responsibilities for Developing Explosives and
                   Narcotics Detection Technologies (GAO/NSIAD-97-95, Apr. 15, 1997), Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:
                   Technologies for Detecting Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept. 4, 1996), and
                   Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: Threats and Roles of Explosives and Narcotics Detection Technology
                   (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-76BR, Mar. 27, 1996).
                   2
                    Senate Report 105-251 (July 1998) on the fiscal year 1999 Treasury and General Government
                   Appropriations bill.




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             and DOD’s requirements will cost at least $5 million and that the cost
             could reach $8 million if FAA’s requirements are included in the joint test.
             Customs officials told us they are working closely with applicable
             congressional committees and subcommittees to decide whether Customs
             can help fund the field test, given that Senate Report 105-251 directs the
             Commissioner of Customs to enter into negotiations with the private
             sector to conduct a field test of the PFNA technology at no cost to the
             federal government. Generally, a complete field test would include (1)
             preparing a test site and constructing an appropriate facility; (2) making
             any needed modifications to the only existing PFNA system and its
                            3
             components; (3) disassembling, shipping, and reassembling the system at
             the test site; and (4) conducting an operational test for about 4 months.
             According to agency and Ancore officials, test site candidates are two
             seaports in California (Long Beach and Oakland) and two land ports in El
             Paso, Texas.

             Federal agency and vendor views on the operational viability of PFNA
             vary. While Customs, DOD, and FAA officials acknowledge that laboratory
             testing has proven the technical feasibility of PFNA, they told us that the
             current Ancore inspection system would not meet their operational
             requirements. Among other concerns, Customs, DOD, and FAA officials
             said that a PFNA system not only is too expensive (about $10 million to
             acquire per system) but also is too large for operational use in most ports
             of entry or other sites. Accordingly, these agencies question the value of
             further testing. Ancore disputes these arguments, believes it can produce
             an operationally cost-effective system, and is proposing that a PFNA
             system be tested at a port of entry. ONDCP has characterized neutron
             interrogation as an “emerging” or future technology that has shown
             promise in laboratory testing and, thus, warrants field testing to provide a
             more informed basis for deciding if PFNA has operational merit.

             As the nation’s principal border agency, the Customs Service has a
Background   significant narcotics interdiction role and is increasingly relying upon
             technology to help implement that role. Equipment and technology used by
             Customs for screening and drug interdiction activities include automated
             databases, portable contraband detectors (“busters”), sonic and laser
             range finders, fiber-optic scopes, and X-ray systems.

             Nonintrusive technology, such as X-ray systems, allow Customs staff to
             inspect for contraband without having to physically enter into or unload
             vehicles or containers. According to its February 1998 Five-Year
             3
                 The existing (prototype) PFNA system is located at the vendor’s plant in Santa Clara, CA.




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  Technology Acquisition Plan for the Southern Tier, Customs currently uses
  over 800 items of nonintrusive inspection technology, primarily for
  inspecting inbound vehicles and containers. Nearly 50 percent ($289.1
  million) of Customs’ proposed 5-year technology investment of $631.4
  million is for new nonintrusive inspection equipment, including fixed-site
  and mobile X-ray systems for inspecting tank trucks, railcars, and sea
  containers.

  For counterterrorism and other purposes, nonintrusive inspection
  technologies are also important for supporting the missions of DOD and
  FAA. DOD, for example, has evaluated PFNA and other technologies for
  possible force protection uses. Also, FAA has considered various
  technologies for screening air baggage and cargo for explosives and
  contraband.

  Whereas X-ray technology is widely used, PFNA or neutron interrogation
  technology has not been operationally fielded anywhere in the world. A
  claimed potential advantage of PFNA technology is that it can be used to
  inspect fully loaded trucks and containers and specifically identify drugs
  and explosives (“material specificity”) automatically without human
  interpretation. In contrast, X-ray inspection technology identifies (with
  human interpretation) anomalous “shapes or shadows” in empty, partially
  loaded, and fully loaded vehicles and containers, which could result in
  false alarms and, in turn, might require further intrusive inspection for
  resolution, such as by unloading the vehicles and containers.

  During fiscal years 1989 to 1998, according to Ancore officials, PFNA
  “laboratory” funding totaled about $60 million—with the large majority
                                                                        4
  provided by DOD (about $28.4 million) and the Eurotunnel consortium
  (about $20 million), and the remainder by FAA (about $6.5 million) and the
  vendor or its parent company (about $5 million). The most recent
  congressional funding-related guidance regarding PFNA is as follows:

• The DOD Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1999, P.L. 105-262, directs DOD
  to spend $3 million in prior-year PFNA-related funds through cooperation
  with ONDCP. According to DOD officials, the actual amount available for
  expenditure will be about $2.7 million, which reflects general budget
  reductions mandated by Congress and the Office of the Secretary of
  Defense. DOD must obligate its PFNA funds by September 30, 1999, or the
  funding authority will expire.

  4
  In 1991, the governments of France and the United Kingdom began funding to develop PFNA for
  potential use in detecting explosives at the two Eurotunnel terminals.




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                        • The conference report (H. Conf. Rep. 105-825) on the Omnibus
                          Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1999, P.L. 105-277, indicates that $2.5
                          million is for FAA to develop PFNA.
                        • Also, as mentioned earlier, Senate Report 105-251 (July 1998) on the
                          Treasury and General Government Appropriations bill for fiscal year 1999
                          directs the Commissioner of Customs to enter into negotiations with the
                          private sector to conduct a field test of PFNA technology at no cost to the
                          federal government.

                          In conducting our work, we interviewed responsible officials at and
                          reviewed applicable documents obtained from the Customs Service, DOD,
                          FAA, ONDCP, and Ancore Corporation. We requested comments on a draft
                          of this report from the Customs Service, DOD, FAA, ONDCP, and Ancore
                          Corporation. Their comments are discussed near the end of this letter. We
                          performed our work from October 1998 to February 1999 in accordance
                          with generally accepted government auditing standards. Appendix I
                          presents more details about our objectives, scope, and methodology.

                          Customs, DOD, and FAA are making plans to comply with their respective
Status of Plans for a     congressional guidance on PFNA. In November 1998, the Commissioner of
PFNA Field Test           Customs met with Ancore representatives to discuss field testing of PFNA.
                          Also, in November 1998, DOD officials told us that they would begin
                          drafting, with Ancore’s participation, a rough or preliminary plan with
                          general parameters for field testing a PFNA system. In December 1998,
                          Ancore submitted a written proposal to Customs. Specifically, Ancore
                          proposed that a 4-month Customs/DOD field test be conducted at a U.S.
                          sea or land port of entry, at an estimated cost ranging from $5 million to
                          $5.5 million, including the cost of a site facility.

                          In its proposal, Ancore mentioned the availability of $2.7 million from
                          fiscal year 1998 DOD appropriations. Ancore indicated that this money
                          could be used for system engineering modifications for ease of relocation,
                          system shipment and installation, and operation and maintenance of the
                          system throughout the test. Ancore asked Customs to fund the remaining
                          amount needed for the field test, $2.3 million to $2.8 million, to be used for
                          constructing a facility to house the PFNA system, preparing related
                          infrastructure, and modifying an existing automated ground vehicle. Also,
                          Ancore proposed that Customs’ responsibilities for the test would include
                          selecting a test site, ensuring the availability of real drugs and other
                          contraband for inspection if real drugs are to be used, and providing cargo-
                          handling labor and equipment.




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In January 1999, the Commissioner of Customs responded in writing to
Ancore’s proposal. In his response, the Commissioner expressed interest
in working with Ancore to conduct a field test. The Commissioner said,
however, that before Customs could make a final decision on the proposed
test, a more detailed description of respective responsibilities was needed.
Also, the Commissioner indicated that after receiving the requested
detailed information, Customs could select a site and make more precise
estimates of funding needed. He also stated that Customs would be
responsible for preparing the final test report.

As reflected in his January 1999 response to Ancore’s proposal for a field
test, the Commissioner of Customs is considering whether Customs should
contribute to the funding of such a test. In this regard, recognizing the no-
federal-cost language of Senate Report 105-251, in February 1999, Customs
officials told us that they were working closely with applicable
congressional committees and subcommittees.

In December 1998, Ancore submitted a written proposal to FAA for use of
its fiscal year 1999 PFNA funds ($2.5 million). Ancore proposed to (1)
build on previous FAA development and testing efforts to modify the
existing land/sea container and truck inspection system for FAA’s specific
air cargo inspection requirements and (2) conduct a laboratory test. Given
the vulnerability of aircraft to explosives, FAA requires the modifications
in order to improve the system’s capability to detect small amounts of
target materials. In January 1999, a FAA official told us that FAA had
contacted Customs and DOD about the possibility of working jointly to
conduct a field test. However, the FAA official noted that detailed
discussions with Customs, DOD, and Ancore might be needed to
determine whether a joint test could adequately cover the combined
counterdrug and counterterrorism operational requirements of the three
agencies. Further, the FAA official said that, if a three-agency field test is
conducted, most of FAA’s funds would be used for engineering
modifications to PFNA components to allow the system to detect small
amounts of target materials.

In January 1999, a Customs official told us that, in order to minimize the
expenditure of federal government funds, he was hopeful that the three
agencies could agree on and implement a joint field testing plan. Also,
Customs, DOD, FAA, and ONDCP officials indicated that it might be
appropriate to




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                           • form a “configuration board” or test review group made up of agency
                             officials to evaluate the joint agency test plan before it is implemented to
                             ensure that all operational requirements are considered and
                           • include advisory representation from the National Academy of Sciences on
                             the configuration board to lend scientific advice and expertise, objectivity,
                             and credibility.

                             Regarding a field test location, Ancore’s proposal would give Customs the
                             responsibility for selecting a site. Initially, Customs officials told us that
                             the Army’s Thunder Mountain Evaluation Center (Fort Huachuca, AZ)
                             would be considered as a possible test site rather than a port of entry.
                             However, after considering Ancore’s proposal, the Commissioner of
                             Customs decided that conducting a field test at a port of entry would be
                             more appropriate. DOD officials expressed no preference for a location;
                             rather, the officials indicated that DOD probably would defer to
                             Customs—the agency that has a primary counterdrug role and potentially
                             the most need for PFNA technology. FAA officials prefer having the field
                             test at an airport or a seaport and stated their least preferred site is Fort
                             Huachuca. ONDCP officials prefer testing at a port of entry to ensure a
                             realistic stream of commerce. Ancore officials also prefer testing at a port
                             of entry for the same reason.

                             In February 1999, Customs, DOD, FAA, and Ancore officials told us that
                             four port-of-entry sites were being considered for the field test. These sites
                             are two seaports in California (Long Beach and Oakland) and two land
                             ports in El Paso, Texas.

                             There is general agreement that PFNA’s technical feasibility has been
Differing Views on the       proven in the laboratory. However, citing cost, size, and other operational
Operational Viability of     concerns, the three prospective users—Customs, DOD, and FAA—do not
a PFNA System                foresee using a PFNA system in their missions or operations and,
                             therefore, question the value of further testing. ONDCP, on the other hand,
                             believes that an informed decision about the operational viability of a
                             PFNA system cannot be made without first conducting a field test. Ancore
                             expressed similar views about the need for field testing.

Customs Service and DOD      In January 1998, the Department of the Treasury and DOD jointly issued an
                             assessment report, which concluded that—although proven effective in a
Views                        laboratory setting for detecting and distinguishing target materials—a
                             PFNA system would not meet their respective counterdrug and




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                                  5
  counterterrorism needs. The joint assessment report cited several limiting
  factors of a PFNA system as follows:

• The $10 million cost of procuring and installing each PFNA system is
  excessive compared with other systems. Similarly, the estimated $1 million
  annual cost per system for operations and maintenance is excessive.

• The 15,000 square feet of physical space needed to accommodate a PFNA
  system for operations is excessive and would limit application of a PFNA
  system to installations that have no space restrictions.

• It is unlikely a PFNA system could ever achieve the mobility goal of being
  relocatable from one site to another within 3 to 5 days.

• Although a PFNA system can detect operationally significant quantities of
  cocaine, the system has throughput rate (e.g., number of vehicles or
  containers that can be screened per hour) and detection limitations
  regarding other contraband, such as explosives, nuclear weapons and
  materials, and chemical agents.

• Less than 10 DOD facilities worldwide could accommodate or would have
  requirements for a PFNA inspection system.

  Treasury and DOD therefore recommended terminating the PFNA program
  and using any remaining fiscal year 1998 funds for other purposes. Early in
  our review, in response to our inquiries, Customs and DOD reaffirmed the
  conclusions presented in the joint assessment and stated that the primary
  reasons for rejecting PFNA were the high cost and excessive space
  requirements. Customs believes PFNA will cost about $12 million per
  system to acquire and install at each port of entry, a cost that Customs
  considers excessive. In comparison, for example, for the cost of 1 PFNA
  system, Customs officials said that the agency can purchase 5 to 10
  alternative inspection systems and deploy them at multiple ports of entry.

  Customs’ current 5-year technology acquisition plan (dated February 1998)
  does not include PFNA systems; rather, the plan calls for deploying X-ray
  systems and other alternative inspection technologies, such as gamma-ray
  imaging, to be used for counterdrug purposes. The officials stated that a
  PFNA system would be effective only at locations where it can screen
  5
  Joint Assessment of the Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis Cargo Inspection System by the Departments of
  Defense and Treasury, January 28, 1998. DOD and Treasury were directed to conduct this joint
  assessment in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998, Report of the Committee on
  National Security, House of Representatives, June 16, 1997.




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               vehicles and cargo that must pass through entry or “choke” points.
               Moreover, at our exit conference in February 1999, DOD officials
               emphasized that DOD does not want a PFNA system, does not envision
               using such a system in an operating environment, and would prefer using
               available PFNA funds for higher priorities.

FAA Views      Despite some interest in PFNA in previous years, FAA currently does not
               envision a role for this technology in the agency’s security operations. As
               with Customs and DOD, FAA has concerns about the costs, size, and other
               operational aspects of a PFNA inspection system. Alternatively, FAA sees
               more advantages in other types of inspection technology, particularly
               scanning technology adapted from the medical field to detect a wide range
               of explosives. In fact, FAA has already officially certified alternative
               detection systems as meeting FAA standards.

               Moreover, FAA officials told us that the agency’s evolving or maturing
               operational philosophy has further lessened FAA’s interest in PFNA. The
               officials explained that FAA is putting more emphasis on “know-your-
               customer” concepts and on screening air cargo parcels before they are
               combined onto pallets.

Ancore Views   Ancore prepared a detailed response to Treasury’s and DOD’s January
               1998 joint assessment report. In its response, Ancore made the following
               assertions:

               •   Treasury and DOD have not quantified the concept of “affordability.”
                   However, PFNA is affordable because the capital cost of PFNA is
                   lower than or the same as any of the existing systems claiming to be
                   able to inspect fully loaded trucks and containers.

               •   The life-cycle cost of a system that lasts 10 to 30 years should be
                   considered. The joint assessment claimed maintenance costs could be
                   as high as $1 million per system per year, but the only time such costs
                   were asked for, a fixed-price bid of $500,000 to $600,000 was given to
                   the European consortium for maintenance for the first year.

               •   The operations cost is lower for PFNA than for X-ray because PFNA
                   needs fewer people to look at images. The major cost of operating an
                   inspection system is one that Customs regularly ignores (i.e., the cost
                   of processing vehicles or containers rejected by a system). Such
                   rejections can result from false alarms. Also, rejections include any
                   vehicles or containers that the system cannot effectively inspect, such
                   as fully loaded trucks. Yet, sometimes Customs uses the argument that



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                  manual unloading of vehicles or containers represents fixed costs that
                  should not be considered in any comparative analyses. However, while
                  retaining the same staff for opening trucks and containers, Customs
                  could seize more contraband with PFNA because it provides a much
                  higher detection rate than any other technique. Thus, PFNA would
                  provide a better return on cost than other inspection technologies.

              •   A PFNA system can be accommodated in different size areas,
                  depending on the site requirement. The current system, with the
                  existing type of elecrostatic accelerator, protective shielding, and full-
                  size truck interrogation tunnel, occupies about 4,000 to 5,000 square
                  feet. Also, the joint assessment report disqualifies PFNA based on size,
                  ignoring the space required for the alternative, namely partially or fully
                  unloading trucks or containers. Use of a PFNA system, compared with
                  the less efficient X-ray systems, results in a better utilization of the
                  scarce real estate in ports of entry.

              •   The current throughput rate of a PFNA system is similar to or exceeds
                  that of the X-ray system selected by Treasury to inspect empty trucks.

              •   The agreed-upon goal was to have a PFNA inspection system that
                  could be moved from one location to another within 14 days. However,
                  the joint assessment report said that Treasury wants a system that can
                  be relocated within 3 to 5 days. Ancore has been in discussions with
                  barge manufacturers about mounting the PFNA system on a barge,
                  which could be towed from one port to another as a method for
                  meeting Treasury’s time requirement.

              In response to our inquiries, Ancore officials reaffirmed their disagreement
              with the joint assessment report’s conclusions. Further, Ancore’s officials
              commented that a fairly designed and conducted field test would
              demonstrate the operational effectiveness of a PFNA system.

ONDCP Views   ONDCP’s position is that a PFNA system should be operationally field
              tested. ONDCP officials noted that the technology has successfully passed
              laboratory tests, which proved the physics of neutron interrogation. In a
                                                 6
              1996 report on inspection systems, ONDCP concluded that:




              6
              ONDCP, Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems Technology
              Assessment and Engineering Tradeoff Study, Volume 1, September 1996.




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              “The state-of-the art in PFNA inspection systems is not sufficiently
              developed for current operational use. Any field implementation of the
              current PFNA system should be in an operational test bed environment.”

              ONDCP recommended that a test bed at a port of entry be procured to
              facilitate gathering data and making a more informed, analytical decision.
                                                                   7
              More recently, in its July 1998 10-year plan, ONDCP characterized
              neutron-based inspection technology as an emerging technology (7 to 10
              years out) rather than an off-the-shelf technology. In responding to a draft
              of the plan, Customs urged ONDCP to remove all references to PFNA
              because it did not want the plan to be construed as representing Customs
              support for a PFNA system. In response to our inquiries, the Director of
              ONDCP’s Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center said that Customs
              seemed to have rejected PFNA without the benefit of sufficient, empirical
              data. According to the Director, PFNA warrants field testing to provide a
              sound basis for decisionmaking.

              A point not in dispute is that PFNA’s technical feasibility has been proven
Conclusions   in the laboratory. Nonetheless, agency officials said that solving the
              physics problem does not solve the operational problems. In this regard, in
              addition to costs, the principal areas of controversy about a PFNA
              inspection system involve “operational” rather than “physics” issues. Even
              the issue of system size or space requirements is in dispute. In the absence
              of field testing, there may be no definitive answer as to whether a PFNA
              system has operational merit—particularly if these disagreements
              continue.

              The prospective users—Customs, DOD, and FAA—seriously question
              whether a PFNA system has operational merit and, thus, also question the
              need for field testing. On the other hand, ONDCP, which coordinates
              counterdrug technology research and development within the federal
              government, questions rejecting a PFNA system on operational grounds
              when no field testing has been conducted. Also, Ancore believes a field
              test of PFNA will demonstrate its operational effectiveness.

              Despite their views on PFNA, Customs, DOD, and FAA are planning to
              comply with their respective congressional guidance, and Customs said it
              is working with Congress to clarify its own funding guidance. These
              agencies recognize that, if a test is to be conducted, a joint, cooperative

              7
              ONDCP, Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, Ten-Year Counterdrug Technology Plan and
              Development Roadmap, July 1998.




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                        effort would be the most efficient use of government funds and that a
                        configuration or test review board with advisory representation from the
                        National Academy of Sciences may be appropriate to evaluate the test plan
                        before implementation.

                        On February 24, 1999, we provided a draft of this report for review and
Agency Comments and     comment to the Customs Service, DOD, FAA, ONDCP, and Ancore
Our Evaluation          Corporation. We received either written or oral comments during the
                        period March 9-15, 1999, from the Director, Applied Technology Division,
                        Office of Information and Technology, the Customs Service; the Assistant
                        for Science and Technology, Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for
                        Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflicts, the Department of
                        Defense; the Scientific Advisor, Office of Civil Aviation Security, the
                        Federal Aviation Administration; the Director, Counterdrug Technology
                        Assessment Center, the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the
                        President/Chief Executive Officer of the Ancore Corporation. In its written
                        comments, Customs said that:

                      • The report accurately reflects the agency’s position on the field test and
                        discussions with the vendor, as well as the current status of interagency
                        planning.
                      • Customs continues to differ with Ancore, as summarized in the report.

                        In its written comments, DOD concurred with the report. FAA orally
                        advised us that the agency had no comments on the draft. ONDCP, in its
                        written comments, said that our presentation of its views was essentially
                        correct and added the following:

                      • Additional emphasis on a national policy to pursue innovative and
                        emerging technologies is needed. A continued investment in research and
                        development is essential to improving interdiction capabilities.
                      • ONDCP’s views should not be misinterpreted to indicate that the focus of
                        technology development is specific to PFNA or to Ancore’s views. As
                        presented in ONDCP’s latest Ten-Year Counterdrug Technology Plan and
                        Development Roadmap, PFNA is viewed as one of many potential
                        candidates that fall within emerging technologies and neutron
                        interrogation.

                        In its written comments, Ancore said that the report was factual and
                        correctly described the status of operational testing. Further, Ancore
                        commented substantially as follows:




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• Ancore has always maintained that an effective national drug interdiction
  program requires having a “system of systems,” i.e., deploying a variety of
  complementary nonintrusive systems, including X-ray and PFNA, as well
  as continuing to rely on intelligence.
• The effectiveness of the overall interdiction effort will be severely affected
  if this complementary deployment excludes PFNA and its high-
  performance capabilities (e.g., selectivity, material specificity, and
  automatic decision).

  Also, Ancore had a few technical comments and clarifications, which have
  been incorporated in this report where appropriate.

  We are sending copies of this report to Representative Jim Kolbe,
  Chairman, and Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Ranking Minority Member,
  Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government,
  Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives; Representative
  J.C. Watts; and to other relevant congressional committees. We are also
  sending copies of this report to: The Honorable William Cohen, Secretary
  of Defense; The Honorable Robert E. Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury; The
  Honorable Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of Customs; The Honorable
  Rodney E. Slater, Secretary of Transportation; The Honorable Jane F.
  Garvey, Administrator, FAA; The Honorable Barry R. McCaffrey, Director,
  ONDCP; The Honorable Jacob Lew, Director, Office of Management and
  Budget; and Mr. Tsahi Gozani, President and Chief Executive Officer of the
  Ancore Corporation. Copies will also be made available to others upon
  request.

  The major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II. If you or
  your staffs have any questions about this report, please contact me on
  (202) 512-8777.




  Norman J. Rabkin
  Director, Administration
  of Justice Issues




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Contents



Letter                                                                                                  1


Appendix I                                                                                             16

Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology
Appendix II                                                                                            18

Major Contributors to
This Report




                         Abbreviations

                         DOD         Department of Defense
                         FAA         Federal Aviation Administration
                         ONDCP       Office of National Drug Control Policy
                         PFNA        Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis




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Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


               Our objectives were to provide information about (1) the status of plans
               for field testing a pulsed fast neutron analysis (PFNA) inspection system
               for counterterrorism and/or counterdrug purposes and (2) federal agency
               and vendor views on the mission viability of such a system.

               Initially, to obtain background and overview perspectives on PFNA
               technology, we conducted a literature search to identify past studies,
               reports, and other relevant materials, including appropriations acts and
               other congressional guidance.

               In directly addressing the objectives, we interviewed responsible officials
               at applicable federal agencies. Our contacts included the following:

             • Customs Service: Our primary meetings were with the Director and other
               staff of the Applied Technology Division, a component of Customs’ Office
               of Information and Technology. In addition, we met with representatives
               from the Office of Field Operations and the Office of Finance.
             • Department of Defense (DOD): We interviewed representatives of DOD’s
               interoffice project for developing PFNA: (1) the project leader from the
               Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and
               Low Intensity Conflict and (2) the project manager from the Department of
               the Navy’s Office of Special Technology. DOD develops technologies for
               detecting explosives and chemical agents for its counterterrorism
               activities and narcotics for Customs’ counterdrug programs.
             • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): We mainly interviewed officials in
               the Office of Civil Aviation Security and its research and development
               division in Atlantic City, NJ.
             • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP): Our principal contact
               was the Director of the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center.
               Established within ONDCP by Congress in fiscal year 1991, the Center
               serves as the federal government’s central research and development
                                                            1
               organization for counterdrug enforcement.

               Also, we contacted the PFNA vendor, Ancore Corporation. During our
               November 1998 visit to Ancore’s headquarters and facilities in Santa Clara,
               CA, we watched a brief demonstration of the PFNA technology. Also, we
               were provided detailed briefings by senior executives, including the
               President and Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, and the
               Vice President for Programs and Business Development.


               1
                Drug Control: Planned Actions Should Clarify Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center’s Impact
               (GAO/GGD-98-28, Feb. 3, 1998).




               Page 16                                         GAO/GGD-99-54 Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis
  Appendix I
  Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




  To better understand federal agency and vendor views on the PFNA
  system, we obtained copies of various documents on its capabilities. Two
  of the primary documents we reviewed were (1) the January 1998 Joint
  Assessment of the Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis Cargo Inspection System
  by Departments of Defense and Treasury and (2) Ancore’s May 1998
  response to the joint assessment. We also reviewed relevant documents on

• congressional guidance on the development of counterterrorism and
  counterdrug technologies,
• PFNA laboratory test results,
• other technical and claimed operational capabilities of PFNA,
• Customs’ narcotics inspection operations and 5-year technology
  development and acquisition plans,
• ONDCP’s assessments of inspection technologies and 10-year plans for
  counterdrug technologies, and
• PFNA contract and budget data.

  However, our review of these documents did not constitute a
  comprehensive or an independent technical analysis of PFNA. That is, the
  scope of our work did not include determining whether the PFNA
  technology is ready for field testing or whether a PFNA system has
  operational merit.




  Page 17                              GAO/GGD-99-54 Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Danny R. Burton, Assistant Director
General Government      David P. Alexander, Senior Social Science Analyst
Division, Washington,   Michael Little, Communications Analyst
D.C.


                        Jan Montgomery, Assistant General Counsel
Office of the General
Counsel, Washington,
D.C.

                        James D. Moses, Evaluator-in-Charge
Los Angeles Field       Samuel L. Hinojosa, Evaluator
Office




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