Observations on Options to Improve the Federal Response
GAO-01-660T, Apr 24, 2001
This testimony discusses three bills that would change the overall leadership and management of programs to combat terrorism. The three bills--H.R. 525, H.R. 1158, and H.R. 1292--vary in scope. H.R. 525 focuses on federal programs to prepare state and local governments for domestic terrorist attacks. Both H.R. 1158 and H.R. 1292 focus on the larger issue of homeland security, which includes terrorism and additional threats such as military attacks. The bills are similar in that they all advocate a single focal point for programs to combat terrorism. However, some bills place the focal point in the Executive Office of the President and others place it with a lead executive agency. In addition, the three bills provide the focal point with different, but often similar, duties to improve the management of federal programs. To the extent that these three bills--or some hybrid of them--address these problem areas, GAO believes that federal programs to combat terrorism will be improved. It will be important to develop a consensus on these matters and provide the focal point with legitimacy and authority through legislation are important tasks that lie ahead.