Combating Terrorism:

Spending on Governmentwide Programs Requires Better Management and Coordination

NSIAD-98-39: Published: Dec 1, 1997. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed interagency processes intended to ensure the efficient allocation of funding and resources for the federal government's efforts to combat terrorism, focusing on: (1) federal funding for unclassified programs and activities to combat terrorism; (2) whether any agency or entity has been designated to coordinate budget proposals, establish priorities, manage funding requirements, and help ensure the efficient allocation of federal resources for combating terrorism across federal agencies; (3) opportunities for agencies to expand coordination of terrorism-related programs and activities under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) principles and framework; and (4) issues concerning the reimbursement of support provided to agencies with lead counterterrorism responsibilities.

GAO noted that: (1) the amount of federal funds being spent on combating terrorism is unknown and difficult to determine; (2) identifying and tracking terrorism-related governmentwide spending with precision is difficult for several reasons; (3) information from key agencies involved in combating terrorism shows that nearly $7 billion was spent for unclassified terrorism-related programs and activities during fiscal year (FY) 1997; (4) the Department of Defense budgeted about $3.7 billion in FY 1997, or about 55 percent of the estimated spending; (5) although the National Security Council (NSC) is to coordinate counterterrorism policy issues and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to assess competing funding demands, neither agency is required to regularly collect, aggregate, and review funding and spending data relative to combating terrorism on a crosscutting, governmentwide basis; (6) neither agency establishes funding priorities for terrorism-related programs across agencies' budgets or ensures that individual agencies' stated requirements have been validated against threat and risk criteria before budget requests are submitted to Congress; (7) because governmentwide priorities for combating terrorism have not been established and funding requirements have not necessarily been validated based on an analytically sound assessment of the threat and risk of a terrorist attack, there is no basis to have reasonable assurance that: (a) agencies' requests are funded through a coordinated and focused approach to implement national policy and strategy; (b) the highest priority requirements are being met; (c) terrorism-related activities and capabilities are not unnecessarily duplicative or redundant; and (d) funding gaps or misallocations have not occurred; (8) GPRA principles and framework can provide guidance and opportunities for the many federal agencies involved in the crosscutting program to combat terrorism to develop coordinated goals, objectives and performance measures, and to enhance the management of individual agency and overall federal efforts; (9) Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 39 directs that agencies will provide support for terrorism-related activities at their own expense unless the President directs otherwise; (10) the Economy Act generally requires reimbursement for goods and services provided to another agency; and (11) the difference between PDD 39 and the Economy Act concerning reimbursement has caused disagreements between agencies in some cases.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: Consistent with the responsibility for coordinating efforts to combat terrorism, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, NSC, in consultation with the Director, OMB, and the heads of other executive branch agencies, should take steps to ensure that governmentwide priorities to implement the national counterterrorism policy and strategy are established.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: National Security Council

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Presidential Decision Directive 62 established within the National Security Council a National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism. Under the Coordinator is a Weapons of Mass Destruction Working Group and a number of subgroups. These working groups will analyze information on agencies' terrorism-related programs and activities, and will recommend to the Coordinator and to OMB requirements and priorities governmentwide. The National Coordinator will establish priorities. This action is in response to GAO's recommendation, according to OMB.

    Recommendation: Consistent with the responsibility for coordinating efforts to combat terrorism, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, NSC, in consultation with the Director, OMB, and the heads of other executive branch agencies, should take steps to ensure that agencies' programs, projects, activities, and requirements for combating terrorism are analyzed in relation to established governmentwide priorities.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: National Security Council

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB is collecting data on federal agencies' funding for terrorism-related programs. This data will be used to analyze programs, projects, activities, and requirements for combating terrorism. The new NSC National Coordinator will work with OMB to review crosscutting projects, programs, and activities for combating terrorism to ensure that national priorities are being met and to avoid overlap and duplication.

    Recommendation: Consistent with the responsibility for coordinating efforts to combat terrorism, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, NSC, in consultation with the Director, OMB, and the heads of other executive branch agencies, should take steps to ensure that resources are allocated based on the established priorities and assessments of the threat and risk of terrorist attack.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: National Security Council

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Presidential Decision Directive 62 established within the National Security Council a National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism. Under the Coordinator is a Weapons of Mass Destruction Working Group and a number of subgroups. These working groups will analyze information on agencies' terrorism-related programs and activities in relation to the threat of terrorism, and will recommend to the Coordinator and to OMB requirements and priorities governmentwide. OMB will ensure that resources are allocated accordingly. This action is in response to GAO's recommendation, according to OMB.

    Recommendation: To ensure that federal expenditures for terrorism-related activities are well-coordinated and focused on efficiently meeting the goals of U.S. policy under PDD 39, the Director, OMB, should use data on funds budgeted and spent by executive departments and agencies to evaluate and coordinate projects and recommend resource allocation annually on a crosscutting basis to ensure that governmentwide priorities for combating terrorism are met and programs are based on analytically sound threat and risk assessments and avoid unnecessary duplication.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An amendment to the 1998 Defense Authorization Act required OMB to gather data on federal agencies' spending for terrorism-related programs, projects, and activities. OMB did collect data for FY1998 enacted and FY1999 planned. OMB plans to continue collecting data in progressively more detail to assist in its crosscutting analysis of agencies' programs. According to OMB, this data will be used to better plan, oversee, and analyze this spending for combating terrorism. The NSC's National Coordinator will be responsible for establishing requirements and priorities and for ensuring that programs are coordinated and are not duplicative.

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