Weapons of Mass Destruction:

State Department Oversight of Science Centers Program

GAO-01-582: Published: May 10, 2001. Publicly Released: May 10, 2001.

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Since 1994, the United States has appropriated $227 million to support two multilateral science centers in Russia and Ukraine. The science centers pay scientists who once developed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and missile systems for the Soviet Union to conduct peaceful research. By employing scientists at the science centers, the United States seeks to reduce the risks that these scientists could be tempted to sell their expertise to terrorists. This report examines the (1) selection procedures the State Department uses to fund projects that meet program objectives and (2) monitoring procedures the State Department uses to verify that scientists are working on the peaceful research they are paid to produce. GAO found that State lacks complete information on the total number and locations of senior scientists and has not been granted access to senior scientists at critical research institutes under the Russian Ministry of Defense. GAO also found that State has designed an interagency review process to select and fund research proposals submitted by weapons scientists to the science centers in Russia and Ukraine. The overall goal is to select projects that reduce proliferation risks to the United States and employ as many senior scientists as possible. The science centers were following their monitoring processes and were taking steps to address audit deficiencies.

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