Combating Terrorism:

Determining and Reporting Federal Funding Data

GAO-06-161: Published: Jan 17, 2006. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2006.

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The President's annual budget reports on federal funding dedicated to combating terrorism activities. Identification of such funding is inherently difficult because a significant portion of combating terrorism funding is embedded within appropriation accounts that include funding for other activities as well. In 2002, GAO reported on the difficulties that the executive branch faced in reporting funding for combating terrorism to Congress (see GAO-03-170). This report updates the information contained in the 2002 report by providing information on (1) the methods agencies use to determine the portion of their annual appropriations related to combating terrorism, and (2) the status of recommendations from GAO's 2002 report.

Seven of 34 agencies that reported receiving funding related to combating terrorism activities to OMB used different methodologies to estimate the portion of their authorized funding that supports such activities. These 7 agencies account for about 90 percent of the total fiscal year 2006 budget request that the 34 agencies estimate relate to combating terrorism. All of these methods involve some level of professional judgment. Agencies stated this process is managed through OMB oversight and supervisory review. OMB staff said they do not review the overseas component of combating terrorism funding data since they are no longer required to report it. As a result, Congress does not receive OMB-reviewed data on the entirety of counterterrorism funding. Three recommendations from GAO's 2002 report have not been implemented. The first recommendation requests that OMB include agencies' obligation data in its annual reporting of funding data on combating terrorism. OMB staff continue to cite the effort required to produce such data but said they might consider reporting obligation information for a targeted set of accounts. Without obligation data, it is difficult for Congress to know (1) how much funding from prior years is still available to potentially reduce new spending requests, (2) whether the rate of spending for a program is slower than anticipated, or (3) what the size of the program is for a particular year and over time. The second recommendation was for OMB to direct relevant departments to develop or enhance combating terrorism performance goals and measures and include such measures in the governmentwide plan. Three of the seven agencies told us that OMB had not directed them to develop performance measures or enhance such measures for combating terrorism activities. However, four of the seven agencies had developed such measures. OMB staff said they are working with agencies to improve performance measurement of government programs related to combating terrorism. The development of such measures would assist Congress in determining whether funding increases have improved performance results. The third recommendation calls for the inclusion of national-level and federal governmentwide combating terrorism performance measures in supplements to existing strategies and their future revisions. There have been no supplements or revisions to the existing strategies that include governmentwide or national-level combating terrorism measures.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: If Congress is interested in receiving data on overseas combating terrorism Consideration Congressional funding as well as data on homeland security funding, then Congress may wish to consider requiring OMB to report on overseas combating terrorism funding data in the Analytical Perspectives of the President's budget along with homeland security funding.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In 2005, we conducted a study regarding federal funding dedicated to combating terrorism activities including an assessment of how section 889 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 affected the reporting of such funding data. At the time of our report, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defined combating terrorism as including efforts to secure the homeland (that is, homeland security activities to detect, deter, protect against, and, if needed, respond to terrorist attacks occurring within the United States) and those to combat terrorism overseas (those activities occurring outside the United States and its territories), excluding direct military action. We reported that section 889 repealed previous reporting requirements established under the National Defense Authorization Act in favor of new reporting requirements. Specifically, section 889 required the President's budget to include an analysis of homeland security funding. No provision was specifically included in the Homeland Security Act regarding the reporting of funding data to combat terrorism overseas. Thus, we reported that if Congress was interested in receiving data on overseas combating terrorism funding, it should consider requiring OMB (the agency responsible for compiling the budget on behalf of the President) to report on overseas combating terrorist funding data in the President's budget along with homeland security funding. As of April 27, 2010, no action has been taken on this matter for congressional consideration.

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