Federal Electrical Emergency Preparedness Is Inadequate

EMD-81-50: Published: May 12, 1981. Publicly Released: May 12, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the vulnerability of the nation's electric power systems to disruptions from acts of war, sabotage, and terrorism and analyzed the federal role in dealing with major, long-term electrical emergencies resulting from such acts.

Federal leadership for electrical emergency planning and preparation is unorganized and ineffective. GAO found that: (1) the Department of Energy (DOE) has an inadequate program for dealing with major electrical disruptions; (2) DOE Emergency Electric Power Administration representatives are unsure of their status, roles, authority, and responsibility, and doubtful that the organization could operate during an emergency; (3) DOE does not have adequate plans to manage and mitigate electric power disruptions; (4) emergency plans to manage such disruptions and restore the power system are needed; and (5) problems exist in federal coordination with respect to electric emergency preparedness.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: It has been 2.5 years since this recommendation was made and no progress has been made on the legislative front. GAO has had no indication that Congress will move on this issue and, therefore, believes that dropping it is warranted.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation requiring that appropriate plans be developed by a specified date.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should carry out his responsibility for electrical emergency preparedness and provide adequate resources to the Electric Emergency Power Administration.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency should: (1) actively monitor DOE efforts to vitalize its emergency electric power program and develop associated plans; (2) require progress reports from DOE and review its progress; and (3) actively assist, support, and coordinate DOE efforts especially with respect to other federal agencies.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

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