Combating Terrorism:

Comments on Bill H.R. 4210 to Manage Selected Counterterrorist Programs

T-NSIAD-00-172: Published: May 4, 2000. Publicly Released: May 4, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Terrorism Preparedness Act of 2000 (H.R. 4210), focusing on the new office it created to manage selected counterterrorist programs.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, GAO believes that H.R. 4210 would address some of the problems of fragmentation and duplication that GAO and others have found in programs to combat terrorism; (2) specifically, the bill would create a new Office of Terrorism Preparedness to centralize leadership and coordination of federal programs to help state and local governments prepare for terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction; (3) however, the duties of the new office, as described in the bill, may overlap with some functions of the recently created National Domestic Preparedness Office; (4) GAO's work on the Office of National Drug Control Policy, on which the Office of Terrorism Preparedness is patterned, suggests that success in achieving the bill's goals depends on the Office head's ability to build consensus among the involved agencies; (5) in addition, the new office may take some time to accomplish its objectives as laid out in the bill; and (6) the limited scope of the new statutory office would not address some of the larger problems with fragmented leadership and coordination in federal programs to combat terrorism.

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