Combating Terrorism: Observations on Growth in Federal Programs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-06-09.

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

                     United States General Accounting Office

GAO                  Testimony
                     Before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and
                     Emergency Management, Committee on Transportation
                     and Infrastructure, House of Representatives

For Release
on Delivery
Expected at
                     COMBATING TERRORISM
2:00 p.m., EDT
June 9, 1999
                     Observations on Growth in
                     Federal Programs
                     Statement of Mark E. Gebicke, Director, National Security
                     Preparedness Issues, National Security and International
                     Affairs Division

          Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

          I am pleased to be here to discuss our prior work and observations on
          federal efforts to combat terrorism, especially those to prepare for and
          respond to terrorist attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, or
          nuclear (CBRN) weapons or devices.1 As you know, the President’s fiscal
          year 2000 budget requested about $10 billion to combat terrorism.
          According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), about
          $1.4 billion of that amount was for dealing with “weapons of mass
          destruction.” Over the past 3 years we have evaluated and reported on a
          number of issues concerning federal programs and activities to combat
          terrorism. A list of related GAO reports and testimonies is attached to this

          My testimony will focus on three issues. First, I will briefly describe the
          foreign- and domestic-origin terrorism threats, as we understand them
          from intelligence analyses, and discuss some issues surrounding the
          emerging threat of CBRN terrorism. Second, I will provide our
          observations on the growth in federal programs to provide training and
          equipment to local “first responders”—police, fire, and emergency medical
          services—and the expansion of federal response elements and teams to
          deal with a possible CBRN terrorist attack. Finally, I will discuss some
          steps the executive branch has taken to better manage federal efforts to
          combat terrorism and some opportunities we see for additional focus and

Summary   U.S. intelligence agencies continuously assess both the foreign and
          domestic terrorist threat to the United States and note that conventional
          explosives and firearms continue to be the weapons of choice for
          terrorists. Terrorists are less likely to use chemical and biological weapons
          than conventional explosives, although the possibility that they may use
          chemical and biological materials may increase over the next decade,
          according to intelligence agencies. Agency officials have noted that
          terrorist use of nuclear weapons is the least likely scenario, although the
          consequences could be disastrous. Although the intelligence agencies

          1 For purposes of this testimony, I will use the term CBRN instead of the more common but less precise
          term weapons of mass destruction. While some agencies define weapons of mass destruction as
          chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons, others define it to include large conventional

          Page 1                                                                         GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
             agree on these matters, we have observed many conflicting statements and
             views in public documents and testimony about the CBRN terrorism threat.
             In addition, there is an apparent disconnect between the intelligence
             agencies’ judgments and the focus of certain programs.

             Since 1996, the number of federal programs and initiatives to combat
             terrorism have grown significantly. According to OMB, funding has also
             increased from about $6.5 billion in fiscal year 1998 to about
             $10 billion requested for fiscal year 2000. At the same time that the federal
             government has created several potentially overlapping programs to train
             and equip local first responders to prepare for possible CBRN terrorist
             attacks, federal agencies have also expanded the number of federal
             response teams, capabilities, and assets.

             The executive branch has taken some important steps toward improving
             the way it manages and coordinates the growing, complex array of
             agencies, offices, programs, activities, and capabilities. For example, OMB
             has issued two governmentwide reports—one in 1998 and one in 1999—on
             funding levels and programs to combat terrorism. In addition, in December
             1998, the Attorney General issued a classified 5-year interagency plan on
             counterterrorism and technology. The Attorney General is also
             establishing a National Domestic Preparedness Office at the Federal
             Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to try to reduce state and local confusion
             over the many federal training and equipment programs to help them
             prepare for terrorist incidents involving CBRN weapons. While these are
             important positive steps, we see opportunities to improve the focus and
             direction of federal programs and activities to combat terrorism. For
             example, a governmentwide strategy that includes a defined end state and
             priorities is needed, along with soundly established program requirements
             based on assessments of the threat and risk of terrorist attack. In addition,
             a comprehensive inventory of existing federal, state, and local capabilities
             that could be leveraged or built upon is warranted before adding or
             expanding federal response assets. Without these fundamental program
             elements, there can be little or no assurance that the nation is focusing its
             investments in the right programs and in the right amounts and that
             programs are efficiently and effectively designed and implemented.

Background   Under Presidential Decision Directive 39 (June 1995) federal efforts to
             combat terrorism are organized along a lead agency concept. The
             Department of Justice, through the FBI, is the lead federal agency for crisis
             management of domestic terrorist incidents and for pursuing, arresting,

             Page 2                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
                          and prosecuting the terrorists. For managing the consequences of
                          domestic terrorist incidents, state and local authorities are primarily
                          responsible. If federal assistance is requested, the Federal Emergency
                          Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead federal agency for consequence
                          management. FEMA coordinates this federal support through the Federal
                          Response Plan, which outlines the roles, responsibilities, and emergency
                          support functions of various federal agencies for consequence
                          management. The National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure
                          Protection, and Counterterrorism at the National Security Council is
                          charged with coordinating the broad variety of relevant policies and
                          programs, including such areas as counterterrorism, preparedness, and
                          consequence management for CBRN terrorist incidents.

The Foreign- and          Terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993 and
                          the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 have elevated concerns about
Domestic-Origin           terrorism in the United States. Previously, the focus of U.S. policy and
Terrorism Threat in the   legislation had been on international terrorism abroad and airline
                          hijacking. Intelligence agencies continuously assess the foreign and
United States             domestic terrorist threats to the United States. The U.S. foreign
                          intelligence community, which includes the Central Intelligence Agency
                          and others, monitors the foreign-origin terrorist threat to the United
                          States.2 In addition, the FBI gathers intelligence and assesses the threat
                          posed by domestic sources of terrorism.

                          What is important about these assessments is the very critical distinction
                          between what is conceivable or possible and what is likely in terms of the
                          threat of terrorist attack. While concerns about terrorist use of CBRN
                          weapons were heightened by an apocalyptic sect’s use of a nerve agent in
                          the Tokyo subway in 1995, terrorists are still reportedly more likely to use
                          conventional weapons. According to the U.S. intelligence community,
                          conventional explosives and firearms continue to be the weapons of choice
                          for terrorists, at least partly because chemical and biological agents are
                          more difficult to weaponize and the results are unpredictable.

                          2 The intelligence community includes the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, the Central
                          Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the
                          National Reconnaissance Office, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other offices within the
                          Department of Defense and the military services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department
                          of the Treasury, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department
                          of State, and such other elements of any department or agency as may be designated by the President or
                          jointly by the Director of Central Intelligence and the head of the department or agency concerned.

                          Page 3                                                                        GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
On average, from 1992 through 1998, there were fewer than four terrorist
incidents in the United States each year, according to FBI statistics.
Figure 1 provides FBI data on the number of terrorist incidents in the
United States during the 1992-98 period, none of which were CBRN

Figure 1: Terrorist Incidents in the United States, 1992-98







         1992         1993           1994           1995            1996           1997           1998
Source: FBI.

The intelligence community reports that some foreign-origin groups and
individuals of concern are showing an increasing interest in using chemical
and biological materials. The FBI also reports an increasing number of
domestic cases involving U.S. persons attempting or threatening to use
such materials. Agency officials have noted that, although the

3FBI defines a terrorist incident as a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, in violation of the
criminal laws of the United States, or of any state, to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian
population, or any segment thereof.

Page 4                                                                            GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
                          consequences could be disastrous, the terrorist use of nuclear weapons is
                          the least likely scenario.

Issues Surrounding the    Statements made in testimony before the Congress and in the press by
Emerging CBRN Terrorism   various officials on the issue of making and delivering a terrorist chemical
                          or biological weapon sometimes contrast sharply. On the one hand, some
Threat                    statements suggest that developing a chemical or biological weapon can be
                          relatively easy. For example, in 1996, the Central Intelligence Agency
                          Director testified that chemical and biological weapons can be produced
                          with relative ease in simple laboratories, and in 1997, the Central
                          Intelligence Agency Director said that “delivery and dispersal techniques
                          also are effective and relatively easy to develop.” Similarly, an article by
                          former senior intelligence and defense officials noted that chemical and
                          biological agents can be produced by graduate students or laboratory
                          technicians and that general recipes are readily available on the internet.

                          On the other hand, some statements suggest that there are considerable
                          difficulties associated with successfully developing and delivering a
                          chemical or biological weapon. For example, the former Deputy
                          Commander of the Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command
                          testified in 1998 that “an effective, mass-casualty producing attack on our
                          citizens would require either a fairly large, very technically competent,
                          well-funded terrorist program or state sponsorship.” More recently, in
                          March 1999, the Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence for
                          Nonproliferation testified that “the preparation and effective use of
                          biological weapons by both potentially hostile states and by non-state
                          actors, including terrorists, is harder than some popular literature seems to

                          We are reviewing the scientific and practical feasibility of the terrorist
                          chemical and biological threat for the Senate Committee on Veterans
                          Affairs; the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee; and
                          the House Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National
                          Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations. Specifically, we are
                          examining the ease or difficulty for a non-state actor to successfully obtain
                          chemical and biological agents, process the materials, and make and

                          Page 5                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
deliver chemical and biological weapons that can cause mass casualties.4
We plan to issue our report later this summer.

We have also observed a disconnect between intelligence agencies’
judgments about the more likely terrorist threats—particularly the
chemical and biological terrorist threat—and certain domestic
preparedness program initiatives. For example, the Department of Health
and Human Services’ (HHS) fiscal year 1999 budget amendment proposal
for its bioterrorism initiative included building—for the first time—a
civilian stockpile of antidotes and vaccines to respond to a large-scale
biological or chemical attack and expanding the National Institutes of
Health’s research into related vaccines and therapies. Specifically, the
Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act
(P.L. 105-277) included $51 million for the Centers of Disease Control and
Prevention to begin developing a pharmaceutical and vaccine stockpile for
civilian populations.

HHS’ legislatively required operating plan discusses several chemical and
biological agents selected for its stockpiling initiatives. These agents were
selected because of their ability to affect large numbers of people (create
mass casualties) and tax the medical system. We observed that several of
the items in HHS’ plan did not match individual intelligence agencies’
judgments, as explained to us, on the more likely chemical or biological
agents a terrorist group or individual might use.5 HHS had not documented
its decision making process for selecting the specific vaccines, antidotes,
and other medicines cited in its plan. Thus, it was unclear to us whether
and to what extent intelligence agencies’ official, written threat analyses
were used in the process to develop the list of chemical and biological
terrorist threat agents against which the nation should stockpile. Further,
we have not seen any evidence that HHS’ process incorporated the many
disciplines of knowledge and expertise or divergent thinking that is
warranted to establish sound requirements to prepare for such a threat and
focus on appropriate medical preparedness countermeasures.

 We recognize that some biological agents are communicable and would not necessarily need to be
weaponized to cause mass casualties.

5 Combating Terrorism: Observations on Biological Terrorism and Public Health Initiatives
(GAO/T-NSIAD-99-112, Mar. 16, 1999).

Page 6                                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Growth in Federal          Federal funding of efforts to combat terrorism has increased rapidly.
                           According to OMB, funding to combat terrorism has increased from about
Funding, Programs,         $6.5 billion in fiscal year 1998 to about $10 billion requested for fiscal year
and Initiatives            2000. Overall, the number of agencies, offices, and initiatives to combat
                           terrorism has also grown substantially. 6 Specifically, since 1996, we have
                           observed growth in federal funding and programs to provide training and
                           equipment to local first responders and, concurrently, growth and potential
                           overlap in federal response elements and teams to deal with a possible
                           CBRN terrorist attack. The federal response elements and assets have
                           been established to support state or local incident commanders to manage
                           the consequences of a possible CBRN terrorist attack.

Proliferation of Federal   We have observed a proliferation of programs and initiatives across several
Programs to Train and      agencies to provide training and/or equipment to local first responders for
                           dealing with the consequences of a CBRN terrorist attack. On the surface,
Equip First Responders
                           it appears to us that there is potential for duplication and overlap among
                           these programs. The fiscal year 2000 budget request proposed $611 million
                           for training, equipping, and exercising cities’ first responders in preparation
                           for a potential terrorist attack and for strengthening public health
                           infrastructure.7 Table 1 summarizes some aspects of selected federal
                           training and/or equipment programs available to state and local agencies to
                           build or enhance their CBRN response capabilities.

                           6   See Combating Terrorism: Observations on Crosscutting Issues (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-164, Apr. 23, 1998).

                           7 HHS requested $230 million for fiscal year 2000 for its bioterrorism initiative, which included
                           strengthening the public health infrastructure.

                           Page 7                                                                           GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Table 1: Selected Federal CBRN Consequence Management Training and/or Equipment Programs
Agency                                  What program provides                          Target audience
Department of Defense (DOD)             Training: CBRN response with focus on          Police, fire, hazardous materials technicians,
                                        chemical, biological, and nuclear.             and medical and emergency management
                                        Equipment: Provides each city up to            responders in the 120 most populous cities.
                                        $300,000 in equipment on 5-year loan.
Department of Justice                   Training: Explosives, incendiary, chemical,    Police, fire, hazardous materials, and
                                        and biological (not radiological or nuclear)   medical and emergency management
                                        response.                                      responders in the 120 largest urban
                                        Equipment: Provides equipment grants.          jurisdictions.
FEMA                                    Training: Emergency management and             Fire, medical, hazardous materials
                                        hazardous materials response, including        technicians, and other emergency
                                        those related to terrorist incidents.          responders.
Department of Energy                    Training: Nuclear and radiological response    Responders in communities close to nuclear
                                        in emergencies.                                facilities.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)   Training: Chemical, biological, and            Federal, state, and local hazardous
                                        radiological hazardous materials response,     materials technicians.
                                        with new focus on terrorist “weapons of
                                        mass destruction” incidents.
HHS                                     Equipment: Contract grants include funds       Emergency medical responders in 27 cities
                                        for equipment and items for medical            that also participate in DOD’s Domestic
                                        response to CBRN incident.                     Preparedness Program.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)     Training: CBRN incident, with focus on         1,100 nonfederal National Disaster Medical
                                        medical response. Training to be provided      System hospital staffs.
                                        under contract with HHS.
                                         Source: GAO.

                                         Further information on these federal programs and activities is in
                                         appendix I.

                                         Some local officials we spoke with during our examination of DOD’s
                                         Domestic Preparedness Program viewed the growing number of CBRN
                                         consequence management training programs as an indication of a
                                         fragmented and possibly wasteful federal approach toward combating
                                         terrorism. Similarly, multiple equipment programs were causing
                                         frustration and confusion at the local level and were resulting in further
                                         complaints that the federal government is unfocused and has no
                                         coordinated plan or defined end-state for domestic preparedness. For
                                         example, in the Domestic Preparedness Program, the separation of the
                                         DOD and HHS equipment packages required local officials to deal with
                                         two federal agencies’ differing requirements and procedures. Since the
                                         HHS equipment program is offered through a contract with unmatched
                                         federal funds, the cities had to meet certain requirements, including
                                         developing a concept of operations plan for Metropolitan Medical

                                         Page 8                                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
                         Response Systems that fits into a local area’s overall medical response
                         system. The DOD equipment loan program required a different process.
                         Other equipment initiatives, such as the Department of Justice equipment
                         grant program, could add to the local government officials’ perception of
                         an unfocused federal strategy. 8

Growth in Federal CBRN   At the same time federal training and equipment programs for first
Response Elements        responders has grown, the number of federal response elements that can
                         deal with various aspects of managing the consequences of a CBRN
                         terrorist attack has also expanded and increased. Individual agencies’
                         initiatives include adding teams or capabilities that can identify and analyze
                         various chemical and biological materials or agents; contain or handle the
                         weapon, device, or area of an incident; and provide medical support or
                         response for dealing with potential casualties of an incident. We have
                         pointed out that the growth in these capabilities and assets has not been
                         based on soundly established requirements or a comprehensive inventory
                         of existing federal, state, and local assets that could be leveraged. State
                         and local officials have raised concerns about the increasing number of
                         federal response elements being formed. In our view, the emergence of
                         more federal response elements and capabilities will increase the challenge
                         for the federal government to provide a well-coordinated response in
                         support of a state or local incident commander.9

                         DOD has established several new response elements in addition to those
                         that have been or would have been called upon in the past to respond to
                         potentially dangerous chemical or biological threats or incidents. Among
                         the pre-existing response assets are the Army’s Technical Escort Unit,
                         which has four teams in two U.S. locations and the Army’s 52nd Explosives
                         Ordnance Disposal Group, which includes many units located throughout
                         the country and has personnel specially trained to respond to CBRN
                         incidents. In 1996, the Marine Corps created the Chemical Biological
                         Incident Response Force located at Camp LeJeune, N.C., to provide a
                         medical and decontamination response to CBRN incidents. In addition, the

                          We have work underway for congressional requesters to examine various issues associated with the
                         multiple federal programs and facilities to train and equip first responders to manage the consequences
                         of a CBRN terrorist attack.

                         9We have completed a governmentwide review of the preparedness of the many federal response
                         assets to work together and with state and local officials, and our report will be available before the end
                         of this month.

                         Page 9                                                                            GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Act required DOD to establish a Chemical-Biological
Rapid Response Team for domestic incidents.

More recently, DOD has created National Guard Rapid Assessment and
Initial Detection (RAID) teams in 10 states to respond to CBRN incidents.
Potentially, up to 54 RAID teams are planned. The RAID teams’ mission is
to provide assistance to local and state authorities in the event of an
incident involving chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological weapons.
They are to (1) help assess the situation, (2) advise civilian responders as to
appropriate actions, and (3) facilitate the identification and movement of
federal military assets to the incident scene. We reviewed the roles and
missions of the RAID teams and expect to release a report this month.

As mentioned earlier, HHS has established Metropolitan Medical Response
Systems with trained and equipped local emergency teams in 27 cities that
also participate in the DOD-led Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic
Preparedness Program. HHS requested fiscal year 2000 funding to include
25 more cities in its program. In addition to the 27 locally-based medical
response teams (with more to be established), HHS has established four
specialized National Medical Response Teams, three of which are
deployable in the event of a terrorist attack involving a chemical or
biological weapon. These 27 Metropolitan Medical Response Systems and
4 National Medical Response Teams are in addition to HHS’ 24 Disaster
Medical Assistance Teams that deploy to provide medical support for any
type of disaster, including terrorism. HHS is further expanding its response
capabilities by creating a national stockpile of millions of doses of
vaccines, antidotes for chemical agents, antibiotics for other diseases, and

Another federal response element that appears to be growing is federal
laboratories with capability to analyze chemical and biological agents. The
Army, the Navy, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have
had laboratory capabilities to analyze chemical and biological agents. In
addition, HHS has plans to establish regional laboratories, and the FBI is
establishing a mobile laboratory capability. Both the FBI and EPA have
forensic laboratories, although there are some differences in capabilities,
and the FBI is looking into using existing facilities rather than creating a
specialized laboratory for CBRN cases.

Page 10                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Some Steps Taken, but     The executive branch has taken a number of important steps to improve
                          management and coordination of programs to combat terrorism.
Opportunities Remain      Nevertheless, we have pointed out several areas in which fundamental
to Improve                program elements are missing while program growth continues.
Management of
Crosscutting Programs

Steps Taken Toward        I will highlight four executive branch efforts that represent important steps
Improved Management and   toward improved management and coordination of the growing programs
                          and activities to combat terrorism. First, OMB has started to track
Coordination              spending by federal agencies to combat terrorism. In December 1997, we
                          reported that key federal agencies with responsibilities to combat
                          terrorism spent about $6.7 billion in fiscal year 1997 for unclassified
                          terrorism-related activities and programs and noted that precise funding
                          information was unavailable for various reasons.10 That report led to
                          legislation (National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998)
                          requiring OMB to establish a system for collecting and reporting
                          information on executive agencies’ spending and budgets for combating
                          terrorism. We believe that the OMB reports on governmentwide spending
                          and budgeting to combat terrorism are a significant step toward improved
                          management and coordination of the complex and rapidly growing
                          programs and activities. For the first time, the executive branch and the
                          Congress have strategic oversight of the magnitude and direction of federal
                          funding for this priority national security and law enforcement concern.
                          The 1999 report provided additional analysis and more detailed information
                          than the 1998 report on budgeting for programs to deal with CBRN
                          weapons. For example, the 1999 OMB report identified the funding (budget
                          authority) for the CBRN portion of combating terrorism to be about
                          $1.23 billion in fiscal year 1999 and $1.39 billion in the fiscal year 2000
                          budget request.

                          Nevertheless, OMB officials told us, as we noted in our December 1997
                          report, that a critical piece of the budget and spending picture is missing—
                          threat and risk assessments that would suggest priorities and appropriate
                          countermeasures. These officials noted—and we agree—that risk

                          10Combating Terrorism: Spending on Governmentwide Programs Requires Better Management and
                          Coordination (GAO/NSIAD-98-39, Dec. 1, 1997).

                          Page 11                                                               GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
assessment is key to (1) knowing whether enough or too much is being
spent, (2) judging whether the right programs are being funded, and
(3) determining whether apparent duplication is good or bad. We have not
fully evaluated the processes or methodologies the executive branch
agencies used to derive the information in the 1998 and 1999 OMB reports.
As a result, we cannot comment on whether or to what extent the reports
reflect the best possible estimate of costs associated with programs and
activities to combat terrorism. The reports, however, do not clearly or
explicitly describe any established priorities or duplication of efforts as
called for in the legislation.

A second step toward improved interagency management and coordination
was the Attorney General’s December 1998, classified 5-year interagency
plan on counterterrorism and technology crime. The Conference
Committee Report accompanying the 1998 Appropriations Act for the
Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related
Agencies required the Attorney General to develop the plan in coordination
with several agencies. The plan includes goals, objectives, and
performance indicators and recommends that specific actions be taken to
resolve interagency problems and issues it identified and assigns relative
priorities to the actions. The classified plan represents a substantial
interagency effort and was developed and coordinated with 15 federal
agencies with counterterrorism roles. The plan, however, generally does
not link its recommended actions and priorities to budget resources,
although it states that the agencies hope to improve the link between the
plan and resources in subsequent updates. The plan also does not have a
clearly defined end state that would be useful to establish requirements and

A third step was the Attorney General’s proposed establishment of a
National Domestic Preparedness Office to coordinate the programs and
other federal support for state and local governments. The purpose of the
office is to coordinate Justice programs with those of other federal
agencies to enable state and local first responders to establish and maintain
a crisis and consequence management infrastructure capable of responding
to a conventional and unconventional terrorist attack. The office, under
the leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, would address
planning, training, equipment, exercises, research and development,
intelligence and information sharing, and health and medical service needs
at the federal, state, and local levels. The office has commissioned a local,
state, and federal interagency board to establish, maintain, and update a
standardized equipment list for use by the interagency community in

Page 12                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
                           preparing state and local jurisdictions to respond to a terrorist incident
                           involving a weapon of mass destruction. The office is intended to reduce
                           state and local confusion over the multitude of federal training and
                           equipment programs and response capabilities by providing “one stop
                           shopping” for state and local agencies. We understand that this office has
                           not been formally approved.

                           Finally, in Presidential Decision Directive 62, issued in May 1998, the
                           President designated a National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure
                           Protection, and Counterterrorism. While this coordinator is not to direct
                           agencies’ activities, he is responsible for integrating the government’s
                           policies and programs on unconventional threats to the homeland and
                           Americans abroad, including terrorism. He is also to provide advice in the
                           context of the annual process regarding the budgets for counterterrorism.
                           We understand he has established a number of interagency working
                           groups, but we have been unable to obtain any further information on these
                           groups’ responsibilities and accomplishments.

Opportunities to Enhance   Notwithstanding these important steps taken by the executive branch, we
Program Focus and          continue to see opportunities to better focus the nation’s investments and
                           efforts to combat terrorism. In November1998, we concluded that the
                           many federal CBRN consequence management training, equipment, and
                           response initiatives could benefit from a coordinated, integrated approach
                           with a defined end-state.11 We also recommended that the National
                           Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism
                           actively review and guide the growing number of consequence
                           management training and equipment programs and response elements to
                           ensure that individual agencies’ efforts (1) leverage existing state and local
                           emergency management systems and (2) are coordinated, unduplicated,
                           and focused toward achieving a clearly defined end state. More recently,
                           we have noted that rapid program growth, particularly in domestic
                           preparedness programs and public health initiatives, has occurred in the
                           absence of soundly established requirements based on assessments of the
                           threat and risk of terrorist attack involving CBRN. A critical piece of the
                           equation in decisions about establishing and expanding programs to
                           combat terrorism is an analytically sound threat and risk assessment using
                           valid inputs from the intelligence community and other disciplines. Threat

                           11Combating Terrorism: Opportunities to Improve Domestic Preparedness Program Focus and
                           Efficiency (GAO/NSIAD-99-3, Nov. 12, 1998).

                           Page 13                                                                 GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
              and risk assessments could help the government make decisions about
              how to target investments in combating terrorism and set priorities on the
              basis of risk; identify unnecessary program duplication, overlap, and gaps;
              and correctly size individual agencies’ levels of effort. Without adequate
              assessment based on sound input, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to
              have confidence that the government has properly shaped programs and
              focused resources to combat and prepare for this complex, emerging

Conclusions   The executive branch has taken a number of steps toward improving the
              overall management and coordination of the complex, growing array of
              agencies’ and offices’ efforts to combat terrorism. Nevertheless, we see
              opportunities to improve the overall focus of the nation’s efforts to combat
              and prepare for terrorist incidents. There is a need to reconcile conflicting
              statements about the CBRN terrorism threat and the lack of connectivity
              between intelligence judgments and program initiatives. There is also a
              need for a governmentwide strategy with a defined end state and priorities,
              soundly defined requirements based on valid assessments of the threat and
              risk of terrorist attack, and a comprehensive inventory of existing
              capabilities and assets. In the absence of these fundamental program
              elements, there has been significant growth in federally funded
              consequence management training and equipment programs for first
              responders and in federal teams, assets, and capabilities to deal with
              possible CBRN terrorist incidents. Without these program elements, there
              is little assurance that the nation is investing in the right programs and in
              the right amounts.

              Major contributors to this testimony are Stephen L. Caldwell, Davi M.
              D’Agostino, and Robert L. Pelletier.

              Madam Chairman, that concludes my prepared statement. I would be
              happy to answer any questions at this time.

              Page 14                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
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Appendix I

Information on Selected Federal Training and
Equipment Programs for First Responders                                                        ApIenxdi

               The following summarizes some aspects of selected federal consequence
               management training and equipment programs designed for state and local
               first responders to deal with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear
               (CBRN) terrorist incidents.

               • Department of Defense (DOD): In the Defense Against Weapons of
                 Mass Destruction Act, (Title XIV, P.L. 104-201, Sept. 23, 1996)—
                 commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Act—the Congress
                 authorized DOD to develop and conduct first responder training
                 focusing on terrorist incidents involving CBRN weapons. In designing
                 the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic Preparedness Program, DOD
                 targeted the 120 most populated U.S. cities to receive this training.
                 Courses are to be delivered to experienced city trainers so they can train
                 rank-and-file first responders. The 5-year loan agreement governing the
                 provision of CBRN items and equipment associated with the program
                 requires the cities to repair, maintain, and replace the equipment. DOD
                 plans to transfer responsibility for its domestic preparedness training
                 and equipment program to the Department of Justice by the end of fiscal
                 year 2000.
               • Department of Justice: Through the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
                 Penalty Act of 1996, the Congress authorized a second terrorism-related
                 consequence management training program for firefighters and
                 emergency medical personnel. This program, developed in conjunction
                 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is
                 administered by the Office of Justice Programs. The target audience for
                 this program overlaps with but is not identical to the target audience for
                 DOD’s Domestic Preparedness Program. In fiscal years 1998 and 1999,
                 the Congress appropriated $103.5 million to make chemical/biological
                 equipment permanently available to first responders through the Office
                 of Justice Programs. The Department of Justice also is establishing a
                 Center for Domestic Preparedness at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Other
                 Justice-funded centers and training venues related to combating
                 terrorism are at universities, such as Texas A&M and Louisiana State
                 University, and at Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nevada Test Site.
               • FEMA: Through its National Fire Academy and Emergency Management
                 Institute, FEMA offers training and issues basic course materials.
                 FEMA and its National Fire Academy have long-standing resident and
                 nonresident training programs in emergency management and
                 hazardous materials. FEMA requested about $31 million for fiscal year
                 2000—a $13-million increase over fiscal year 1999 funding. Of the
                 $31 million, $29 million is to provide grants and assistance related to
                 training, planning, and exercises for state and local responders.

               Page 17                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Appendix I
Information on Selected Federal Training
and Equipment Programs for First

• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): EPA’s Environmental
  Response Team provides training to federal, state, and local hazardous
  materials technicians that addresses radiological, biological, and
  chemical hazards. EPA is adding training to its course that deals with
  CBRN weapons.
• DOE: DOE sponsors training in how to respond to incidents involving
  the release of nuclear or radiological substances. The training is made
  available primarily to communities in which nuclear facilities are
• Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Veterans Affairs
  (VA): The Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act authorized
  funds for DOD to assist the Secretary of HHS in establishing
  Metropolitan Medical Response Systems to help improve local
  jurisdictions’ medical response capabilities for a CBRN incident. HHS’
  Office of Emergency Preparedness has been establishing Systems with
  trained and equipped local emergency teams in 27cities that also
  participate in the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici domestic preparedness training
  and equipment program. VA is involved in training through a contract
  from HHS. Specifically, HHS is contracting with VA to train 1,100 non-
  federal National Disaster Medical System hospital staffs to deal with
  CBRN situations, according to VA officials.

Page 18                                                 GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Page 19   GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Page 20   GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Related GAO Products                                                                          Appendx

                   Combating Terrorism: Use of National Guard Response Teams Is Unclear
                   (GAO/NSIAD-99-110, May 21, 1999).

                   Combating Terrorism: Issues to Be Resolved to Improve Counterterrorist
                   Operations (GAO/NSIAD-99-135, May 13, 1999).

                   Weapons of Mass Destruction: DOD Efforts to Reduce Russian Arsenals
                   May Cost More and Accomplish Less Than Expected (GAO/NSIAD-99-76,
                   Apr. 13, 1999).

                   Combating Terrorism: Observations on Biological Terrorism and Public
                   Health Initiatives (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-112, Mar. 16, 1999).

                   Combating Terrorism: Observations on Federal Spending to Combat
                   Terrorism (GAO/T-NSIAD/GGD-99-107, Mar. 11, 1999).

                   Combating Terrorism: FBI's Use of Federal Funds for Counterterrorism-
                   Related Activities (Fiscal Years 1995-98) (GAO/GGD-99-7, Nov. 20, 1998).

                   Combating Terrorism: Opportunities to Improve Domestic Preparedness
                   Program Focus and Efficiency (GAO/NSIAD-99-3, Nov. 12, 1998).

                   Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici
                   Domestic Preparedness Program (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-16, Oct. 2, 1998).

                   Combating Terrorism: Observations on Crosscutting Issues
                   (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-164, Apr. 23, 1998).

                   Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments Can Help Prioritize
                   and Target Program Investments (GAO/NSIAD-98-74, Apr. 9, 1998).

                   Combating Terrorism: Spending on Governmentwide Programs Requires
                   Better Management and Coordination (GAO/NSIAD-98-39, Dec. 1, 1997).

                   Combating Terrorism: Efforts to Protect U.S. Forces in Turkey and the
                   Middle East (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-44, Oct. 28, 1997).

                   Combating Terrorism: Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Implement National
                   Policy and Strategy (GAO/NSIAD-97-254, Sept. 26, 1997).

                   Combating Terrorism: Status of DOD Efforts to Protect Its Forces
                   Overseas (GAO/NSIAD-97-207, July 21, 1997).

(702012)   Leter   Page 21                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
Page 22   GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181
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