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Washington, DC 20548:

United States General Accounting Office:

September 5, 2003:

The Honorable James Inhofe:

Chairman:

The Honorable James Jeffords:

Ranking Member:

Committee on Environment and Public Works:

United States Senate:

The Honorable Michael D. Crapo:

Chairman:

The Honorable Bob Graham:

Ranking Member:

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water:

Committee on Environment and Public Works:

United States Senate:

Subject: Invasive Species: State and Other Nonfederal Perspectives on 
Challenges to Managing the Problem:

Invasive species--harmful, nonnative plants, animals, and 
microorganisms--are found throughout the United States and cause damage 
to crops, rangelands, waterways, and other ecosystems that is estimated 
to cost in the billions of dollars annually. In addition to their 
economic costs, invasive species can have a devastating effect on 
natural areas, where they have strangled native plants, taken over 
wetland habitats, crowded out native species, and deprived waterfowl 
and other species of food sources. Scientists, academicians, and 
industry leaders have all recognized invasive species as one of the 
most serious environmental threats of the twenty-first century. More 
specifically, conservation biologists ranked invasive species as the 
second most serious threat to endangered species after habitat 
destruction. In June 2003, we testified before the Senate Subcommittee 
on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water concerning invasive species issues 
reported in our October 2002 report.[Footnote 1] We also provided 
testimony on the partial results of our spring 2003 survey of state 
agencies involved in efforts to address invasive species and members of 
the Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC).[Footnote 2]

This report provides the final results of our survey and focuses on 
state perspectives on (1) gaps in, or problems with, federal 
legislation addressing invasive species, (2) barriers to managing 
invasive species, (3) effective leadership structures for addressing 
invasive species, and (4) integrating federal aquatic and terrestrial 
invasive species legislation and the potential gains and drawbacks of 
such legislation. We also obtained ISAC members' views on these issues. 
To obtain these perspectives for our report, we surveyed the state 
agencies typically involved with invasive species--agencies 
responsible for agriculture and fish and wildlife--and members of the 
ISAC. We sent one survey to at least two agencies in each of the 50 
states and the District of Columbia and another survey to each of 24 
ISAC members. We received 70 responses from state officials 
representing a total of 45 states and 16 responses from ISAC members. 
See enclosures I and II for state and ISAC surveys with aggregate 
responses by question. We also interviewed officials in four states--
California, Florida, Hawaii, and Michigan--chosen because of their 
geographic location, active invasive species efforts concerning both 
aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, or the number of invasive 
species management challenges they face. We conducted our work from 
April 2003 through September 2003 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. Because we did not conduct work at 
federal agencies, we did not obtain comments on this report. See 
enclosure III for details on our scope and methodology.

Results in Brief:

State officials identified several legislative gaps or problems with 
existing legislation intended to address invasive species. A key gap 
noted in legislation addressing both aquatic and terrestrial invasive 
species is the lack of requirements for controlling invasive species 
that are already established or widespread. State officials said that 
if there is no federal requirement, there is often little money 
available to combat a species and that such a requirement would raise 
the priority for responding to it. For example, one state official 
complained about the lack of a requirement to control Eurasian ruffe, 
an invasive fish that has spread throughout several of the Great Lakes 
and caused great harm to native fisheries. Also, over one-half of the 
state officials responding to our survey said that international trade 
agreements make it difficult to regulate products that may introduce 
invasive species because, for example, the trade agreements do not 
consider invasive species. In addition, over one-half of the state 
officials who responded to questions about legislation on aquatic 
invasive species identified gaps with ballast water requirements. For 
example, many officials cited as inadequate the current federal 
standards for ballast water, which impose requirements on ships 
entering the Great Lakes but not other U.S. waters.

State officials also identified several barriers that make managing 
invasive species difficult. The barrier that state officials identified 
most frequently was the lack of federal funding for state invasive 
species efforts. For example, states were concerned about not having 
sufficient funds to create management plans for addressing invasive 
species and for conducting monitoring, detection, inspection, 
enforcement, and research activities. In addition, state officials were 
concerned about insufficient public education and outreach efforts as 
well as the lack of control measures and cost-effective controls for 
invasive species.

State officials' opinions on effective federal leadership structures 
for managing invasive species varied. State officials most frequently 
identified the National Invasive Species Council (Council) specifically 
authorized in legislation as an effective leadership structure for 
managing invasive species, although many state officials thought that 
continuing with the Council as currently established by executive order 
would also be effective. While the Executive Director of the Council 
told us that they have had adequate authority to carry out the 
responsibilities set forth in the executive order, she noted that clear 
legislative authority would strengthen their efforts. Similarly, 
officials from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, 
and Environmental Protection Agency who are departmental liaisons to 
the Council, noted that legislative authority, depending on how it was 
structured, could be useful in carrying out the responsibilities of the 
Council. Fewer state officials identified having a single federal 
agency responsible for all invasive species or separate federal 
agencies responsible for aquatic and terrestrial species as effective 
structures.

State officials' views also varied on whether to integrate federal 
legislation on aquatic invasive species with legislation on terrestrial 
invasive species. The greatest number of state officials responding to 
our survey were in favor of integrating legislation, but the margin 
compared with those who did not favor integration was relatively small. 
Many state officials indicated that the possible gains of integrated 
legislative authority would be an increased focus on invasive species 
pathways, as opposed to specific species, and increased coordination 
between federal agencies and states. The possible drawbacks most often 
identified by state officials included concerns that a single piece of 
legislation would not be able to address all possible situations 
dealing with invasive species, and that aquatic and terrestrial 
invasive species programs would have to compete for scarce resources.

Background:

As we have reported in the past, the impact of invasive species in the 
United States is widespread, and their consequences for the economy and 
the environment are profound.[Footnote 3] Invasive species affect 
people's livelihoods and pose a significant risk to industries such as 
agriculture, ranching, and fisheries. The cost to control invasive 
species and the cost of damages they inflict, or could inflict, on 
property and natural resources are estimated in the billions of dollars 
annually. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
(USDA), each year invasives such as the Formosan termite causes at 
least $1 billion in damages and control costs in 11 states; if not 
managed, fruit flies could cause more than $1.8 billion in damage each 
year.[Footnote 4] Invasive species continue to be introduced in new 
locations, with recent examples including the northern snakehead fish 
in Maryland, the emerald ash borer in Michigan, and the monkeypox virus 
in the Midwest.

Invasive species may arrive unintentionally as contaminants of bulk 
commodities, such as food, and in packing materials, shipping 
containers, and ships' ballast water. Ballast water is considered a 
major pathway for the transfer of aquatic invasive species. Ballast is 
essential to the safe operation of ships because it enables them to 
maintain their stability and control how high or low they ride in the 
water. Ships take on or discharge ballast water over the course of a 
voyage to counteract the effects of loading or unloading cargo and in 
response to sea conditions. The ballast that ships pump aboard in ports 
and harbors may be fresh, brackish, or salt water. These waters could 
potentially contain organisms that could then be carried to other ports 
around the world where they might be discharged, survive, and become 
invasive. Other invasive species may be introduced intentionally; 
kudzu--a rapidly growing invasive vine that thrives in the southeastern 
United States--for example, was intentionally introduced from Japan as 
an ornamental plant and was used by USDA in the 1930s to control soil 
erosion.

Federal agencies implement a variety of invasive species-related 
programs and activities pursuant to their specific missions and 
responsibilities. USDA, for example, spends significant resources on 
prevention and control activities for invasive species that harm 
agricultural and forest products. USDA is also responsible for 
preventing infectious diseases, some of which are considered invasive, 
from spreading among livestock. States also play a major role in 
addressing invasive species, either through their own programs or 
through collaboration with or funding from federal programs. State 
programs and the amount of resources expended on them vary 
considerably. Typically, state agencies that address agriculture and 
fish and wildlife are involved with managing invasive species.

In response to concerns that the United States was losing the battle 
against invasive species, President Clinton signed Executive Order 
13112 in February 1999 to prevent the introduction of invasive species; 
provide for their control; and minimize their economic, environmental, 
and human health impacts. This executive order established the Council, 
which is now composed of the heads of 11 federal departments and 
agencies, to provide national leadership on invasive species and to 
ensure, among other things, that federal efforts are coordinated and 
effective. The executive order also required the Secretary of the 
Interior to establish a federal advisory committee (the Invasive 
Species Advisory Committee or ISAC) to provide information and advice 
to the Council. To achieve the goals of the executive order, the 
Council was to develop a national management plan that would serve as 
the blueprint for federal action on invasive species.

State Officials Identified Several Gaps in Federal Invasive Species 
Legislation:

State officials most often identified the lack of a legal requirement 
for controlling already-established or widespread invasive species as a 
gap or problem with legislation on terrestrial invasive species and 
frequently identified it as a gap or problem with legislation on 
aquatic invasive species (see fig. 1).

Figure 1: Percentage of State Officials Who Identified Various Issues 
As "Great" or "Very Great" Gaps in Federal Legislation on Aquatic and 
Terrestrial Invasive Species:

[See PDF for image]

[A] Forty-eight officials responded to this question. 

[B] Fifty-seven officials responded to this question. 

[C] Issue did not apply to this type of invasive species.

[End of figure]

Specifically, state officials said lack of a legal requirement for 
control is a problem for species that do not affect a specific 
commodity or when a species is not on a federal list of recognized 
invasive species. Officials noted that if there is no federal 
requirement, there is often little money available to combat a species 
and that such a requirement would raise the priority for responding to 
it. For example, one state official complained about the lack of a 
requirement to control Eurasian ruffe, an invasive fish that has spread 
throughout several of the Great Lakes and caused great harm to native 
fisheries. The official compared this with the mandated control program 
for the sea lamprey that is funded by the United States and Canada. In 
addition, some state officials said that, in the absence of federal 
requirements, differences among state laws and priorities also pose 
problems for addressing established species. For example, problems may 
arise if one state regulates or takes actions to control a species and 
an adjacent state does not. Some state officials noted that they 
believe they have little authority to control or monitor some species 
and that adopting laws or regulations for specific species, such as 
those for the sea lamprey, takes time.

Many state officials also noted that there are difficulties regulating 
products that may contribute to the introduction of invasive species 
because of provisions in international trade agreements. For example, 
one state official told us that trucks carrying commercial goods from 
Canada and Mexico into the United States could bring invasive species 
into the country because sometimes invasive species issues were not 
considered when trade agreements governing such international commerce 
were negotiated. An official from another state provided a good 
illustration of this with roses from Europe that came into the United 
States through Canada. The roses were not detained in order to observe 
them for potentially harmful species, but would have been detained had 
they been shipped directly from the originating country in Europe. As 
one state official pointed out, there is an inherent conflict in 
promoting international trade and trying to prevent invasive species 
from coming into the United States from foreign countries. This 
official believes that all trade agreements should address invasive 
species.

Many state officials that answered questions about aquatic invasive 
species identified problems with ballast water. Specifically, some 
state officials complained that treatment technologies, standards, 
regulations, compliance with reporting requirements, and penalties for 
noncompliance are lacking, and said that research and legislation are 
needed to address the problem. As we reported in October 2002, federal 
regulations for ballast water are not effective at preventing invasive 
species from entering our waters. Ballast water exchange is only 
required for ships entering the Great Lakes and does not apply to ships 
with little or no pumpable ballast water in their tanks.[Footnote 5] 
Officials in several states expressed frustration with the 
vulnerability to potential invasives created by a lack of effective 
standards. In addition, one state in the southwestern United States 
said that with no mandatory ballast water exchange and poor monitoring, 
invasive species could come into the state not only from South America 
and other foreign areas, but also from other states with less strict 
invasive species standards. Some state officials said that federal 
leadership is essential to provide coordination among states and fund 
efforts to address ballast water. Although some state officials believe 
solving the ballast water problem is possible, some pointed to 
potential difficulties in doing so. Specifically, they noted that some 
environmental groups are opposed to chemical treatments, while industry 
groups have objected to the cost of some technologies.

We also analyzed state officials' opinions based on whether they were 
from a coastal or noncoastal state. Officials from coastal states 
identified the same gaps discussed above. However, noncoastal state 
officials identified the inadequacy of biocontrol requirements most 
often as a barrier for managing aquatic and terrestrial invasive 
species. Also, noncoastal states did not identify issues related to 
ballast water as a problem to managing aquatic invasive species.

The lack of a legal requirement for a national rapid response system 
was identified most often by members of the ISAC. The discovery of 
giant salvinia in the Lower Colorado River in 1999 illustrates some of 
the difficulties associated with rapid response.[Footnote 6] According 
to one federal official, achieving a "rapid response" to the problem 
evaporated in the face of funding obstacles among the various entities 
involved and disagreements over appropriate control strategies and who 
should be the lead agency. Had immediate action been taken, eradication 
of this infestation would have been possible. Members of the ISAC also 
frequently identified the lack of statutory recognition of the Council 
as a gap in existing legislation. We discuss this issue in a later 
section.

State Officials Identified Several Barriers to Managing Invasive 
Species:

Inadequate federal funding for state efforts was the barrier identified 
most often by state officials responding to our survey (see fig. 2).

Figure 2: Percentage of State Officials Who Identified Various Factors 
That Make Managing Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Difficult 
as "Great" or "Very Great" Problems:

[See PDF for image]

[A] Forty-nine officials responded to this question. 

[B] Fifty-six officials responded to this question. 

[End of figure]

State officials were concerned about having sufficient funds for 
inspection and enforcement activities and to create management plans 
for addressing invasive species, particularly as more states begin to 
develop plans. State officials also identified the need for additional 
funds to conduct monitoring and detection programs. Some state 
officials noted that uncertainty in obtaining grant funds from year to 
year makes it difficult to manage programs, especially when they rely 
on grants to fund staff positions. Officials in several states noted 
that the need for federal funds is more important today because their 
budgets have been tightened, noting that the lack of funds--federal and 
state--has contributed to the spread of such invasive plant species as 
kudzu, autumn olive, purple loosestrife, and saltcedar. For example, an 
official from one state said that federal funds are needed to address 
invasive species that cross state boundaries, such as the saltcedar--a 
riparian plant that spreads as seeds float via rivers across state 
borders. Another state official said that without adequate federal or 
state funds, the state has been unable to adequately deal with an 
invasive weed (rush skeleton) that was identified on about six acres in 
the 1960s. Partly because the state had limited funds, it only 
addressed the species one time. The weed now has spread to about six 
million acres and controlling it will be very expensive. Officials said 
they would use additional federal funds to hire additional staff to 
control invasive species, conduct additional research, and increase 
coordination and public education.

Many state officials identified a lack of public education and outreach 
as another barrier to effectively managing aquatic and terrestrial 
invasive species. Public education and outreach activities are 
important components of the battle against invasive species, as many 
invasives have been introduced through the activities of individuals, 
such as recreational boating, and commercially through the pet, live 
seafood, and plant and horticultural trades. For example, the outbreak 
of the monkeypox virus that sickened at least 80 people in the Midwest 
spread from a Gambian rat imported from Africa to be sold as a pet. In 
addition, invasive plants that grow fast and kill other natural 
vegetation are often sold in nurseries before their harmful effects are 
realized. For example, one state official said that plant nurseries in 
his state sold purple loosestrife for years until its harmful effects 
were recognized. It is now illegal to buy the plant in the state, but 
the state does not have funds to educate the public about the harmful 
effects of the species or the need to control it. An official from 
another state said that because of limited public awareness of the 
problem of invasive species, the issue is not on the radar screen of 
enough elected representatives to ensure adequate funding. Some state 
officials identified how effective public education programs to 
increase public awareness of invasive species issues can be. For 
example, an official from Idaho told us that the state's weed awareness 
campaign, which was started about 2 years ago, has dramatically 
increased public awareness of invasive species through television, 
radio, and newspaper publicity. In addition, the state uses other 
public outreach efforts, such as setting up information booths at 
county fairs, and has an active effort to educate its legislature. A 
state official in Texas told us that the Pecos River Ecosystem Project 
in the southwestern United States has been successful in educating 
landowners about saltcedar. As a result, many landowners have stopped 
using the plant for landscaping and erosion control, and some are 
beginning to remove it.

State officials also frequently identified the lack of control measures 
and cost-effective controls as barriers to addressing invasive species. 
Officials in several states told us that new herbicidal and biological 
control measures are needed to control invasive species and more 
species-specific research is needed to identify effective measures, 
although they recognized that it can be difficult to adopt the new 
measures. One successful control effort--the sea lamprey control 
program--costs about $15 million per year. However, similar control 
programs for all invasive species would be problematic given the 
potential cost. Officials in some states noted that it takes a long 
time to obtain approval to use some herbicides and biological measures, 
and delays can be costly. In the meantime, officials said invasive 
species spread--sometimes dramatically. For example, one state official 
said that in 1999 the state identified hydrilla covering about 23 acres 
of a lake and control costs for the aquatic invasive plant were 
estimated to be about $17,000 at the time. Local groups protested and 
threatened to sue the city if the herbicide proposed to control the 
hydrilla was used; the local environmental board did not approve use of 
the herbicide. Today, the plant has spread to over 300 acres and 
control costs are estimated to have increased tenfold. Another state 
official said that because a federal court ruling restricts the use of 
herbicides near water without an Environmental Protection Agency permit 
and such permits are very difficult to obtain, the state cannot use 
herbicides to control Eurasian watermilfoil (an aquatic plant). As a 
result, control has been slow and costly because the plant must be 
pulled by hand by divers at a cost of about $400 per day, per diver. 
Another state official said that because existing chemicals are 
ineffective in controlling kudzu, mechanical control measures, such as 
mowing, are currently the best available option. However, because the 
plant spreads so rapidly, mechanical measures are very expensive; the 
official said that it could cost millions of dollars to remove kudzu in 
the state. Officials from several states said that more research is 
needed to identify cheaper control measures.

Coastal and noncoastal states identified similar key barriers for 
managing invasives. These included inadequate federal funding for state 
efforts, a lack of public education and outreach, a lack of control 
measures, and a lack of cost-effective control measures.

In contrast, ISAC members identified different factors as key barriers. 
For example, members most often identified less funding for invasive 
species in natural areas than for agricultural land as a barrier to 
managing invasive species. As previously reported in August 2000, 
almost 90 percent of the federal funds spent to manage invasive species 
were expended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.[Footnote 7] We 
also found that species that threaten agricultural crops or livestock 
are far more likely to elicit a rapid response than those primarily 
affecting natural areas.[Footnote 8]

State Officials' Opinions on Effective Leadership Structures for 
Addressing Invasive Species Varied:

Currently, no single agency oversees the federal invasive species 
effort. Instead, the National Invasive Species Council coordinates 
federal actions to address the problem. State officials most often 
identified specifically authorizing the Council in legislation as an 
effective leadership structure for managing invasive species, although 
almost as many officials thought that continuing under the current 
executive order would also be effective. Some state officials 
identified the designation of a single federal agency with 
responsibility for both aquatic and terrestrial issues, or the 
designation of one federal agency for aquatic and one for terrestrial 
invasive species issues, as effective leadership structures (see fig. 
3).

Figure 3: Number of State Officials' Who Responded as "Great" or "Very 
Great" with Regard to the Perceived Effectiveness of Potential 
Leadership Structures:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

During the work for our October 2002 report, the executive director of 
the Council noted that legislative authority for the Council, depending 
on how it was structured, could be useful in implementing the national 
management plan, which called for the Council to conduct an evaluation 
by January 2002 of the current legal authorities relevant to invasive 
species.[Footnote 9] Officials from the Department of Agriculture, the 
Department of Defense, and the Environmental Protection Agency also 
told us that legislative authority, if properly written, would make it 
easier for Council to implement the management plan.

When we analyzed the results of our survey regarding leadership 
structure by the respondents' type of agency or whether they 
represented a coastal or noncoastal state, we found some variation with 
these responses compared with the overall state responses. 
Specifically, more state officials representing fish and wildlife 
agencies identified legislative recognition of the Council as an 
effective leadership structure, while officials from agriculture 
agencies were equally split on legislative recognition versus 
continuing the Council under the current executive order. More 
agriculture officials identified designation of a single agency 
responsible for all invasive species issues as an effective leadership 
structure, while more fish and wildlife officials identified the need 
for separate agencies--one for aquatic invasive species and one for 
terrestrial invasive species--as an effective structure. Further, more 
coastal and noncoastal respondents identified legislative recognition 
of the Council rather than continuing under the current executive 
order. In addition, more coastal and noncoastal respondents identified 
designation of a single agency responsible for all invasive species 
rather than separate agencies as an effective leadership structure.

Almost all of the ISAC members that responded to our survey identified 
specifically authorizing the Council in legislation as an effective 
leadership structure for managing invasive species, with half as many 
identifying authorizing the Council by continuing with the current 
executive order as an effective structure. A smaller number of ISAC 
members identified the designation of one federal agency for aquatic 
issues and another federal agency for terrestrial invasive species 
issues as effective structures, and the designation of a single federal 
agency with responsibility for both aquatic and terrestrial issues (see 
fig. 4).

Figure 4: Number of ISAC Members' Who Responded "Great" or "Very Great" 
with Regard to the Perceived Effectiveness of Potential Leadership 
Structures:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

State Officials' Opinions Varied on Whether to Integrate Legislation on 
Aquatic Invasive Species with Legislation on Terrestrial Invasive 
Species:

Federal officials responsible for addressing invasive species operate 
under a patchwork of laws where aquatic and terrestrial species are 
treated separately. Questions have been raised about whether this is 
the most efficient and effective approach and whether the federal 
government's ability to manage invasive species would be strengthened 
if integrated legal authority addressed both types of invasives. Some 
believe such an approach would create more flexibility for addressing 
invasive species; others are concerned that such an approach would 
disrupt existing programs that are working well.

No clear consensus exists among state officials on whether legislative 
authority for addressing aquatic and terrestrial invasive species 
should be integrated. Overall, more state officials were in favor of 
integrating legislative authority, but the margin over those who did 
not favor integration was relatively small. Specifically, 32 of the 70 
(46 percent) state officials we surveyed said they favored integrated 
legislation, whereas 26 of the 70 (37 percent) state officials said 
they did not (see fig. 5).

Figure 5: State Officials' Opinions on the Potential Integration of 
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Legislation:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

About twice as many of the ISAC members who responded to our survey 
favored integrating legislation on aquatic and terrestrial invasive 
species compared with those who did not (see fig. 6).

Figure 6: ISAC Members' Opinions on the Potential Integration of 
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Legislation:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

We also analyzed state officials' opinions on integrating legislative 
authority on aquatic and terrestrial invasive species by the type of 
agency the state officials represented--agriculture, fish and wildlife, 
or other--and the respondents stated area of expertise or knowledge--
aquatics only, terrestrial only, or aquatics and terrestrials. When 
considering a respondent's agency affiliation, differences in opinion 
varied slightly. State officials representing agriculture agencies were 
evenly split on whether they favored or did not favor integrated 
legislation while more state officials from fish and wildlife agencies 
favored integration than those who did not (see fig. 7).

Figure 7: State Officials' Opinions on the Potential Integration of 
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Legislation, by State Agency 
Type[A]:

[See PDF for image]

[A] Forty-four of the state officials that responded were from 
agriculture agencies, thirty-three were from fish and wildlife 
agencies, and three were from other agencies that manage invasive 
species.

[End of figure]

Differences in opinion became more distinct when we considered a 
respondents' area of expertise. A large majority of the state officials 
who identified themselves as having expertise solely in aquatic 
invasive species were against integrating aquatic and terrestrial 
authority. Conversely, officials with expertise in terrestrial 
invasives slightly favored integrated authority, but only by a small 
margin. State officials who identified themselves as experts or 
knowledgeable in both aquatic and terrestrial invasives favored 
integrated authority by a large majority (see fig. 8).

Figure 8: State Officials' Opinions on the Potential Integration of 
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Legislation, by Area of 
Expertise[A]:

[See PDF for image]

[A] Twenty-one of the state officials that responded had aquatic only 
expertise, sixteen had terrestrial only, and thirty-three had both 
aquatic and terrestrial expertise.

[End of figure]

State officials' responses were also analyzed based on whether the 
respondent was from a coastal or noncoastal state. More coastal state 
officials favored integration than those who did not, while officials 
in noncoastal states were split on whether they favored integrating 
legislative authority for aquatic and terrestrial invasive species (see 
fig. 9).

Figure 9: State Officials' Opinions on the Potential Integration of 
Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species Legislation, by State 
Location[A]: 

[See PDF for image]

[A] Thirty of the state officials that responded to the questions were 
from noncoastal states, and forty were from coastal states. States 
bordering the Great Lakes were considered as coastal states.

[End of figure]

We also asked state officials about potential gains and drawbacks of 
integrating federal legislation on aquatic invasive species with 
legislation on terrestrial invasive species (see table 1). 

Table 1: Potential Gains and Drawbacks of Integrating Legislation on 
Aquatic Invasive Species with Legislation on Terrestrial Invasive 
Species Identified by At Least 50 Percent of State Officials Responding 
to the Survey:

[See PDF for image]

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

As shown, state officials identified a number of different potential 
gains and drawbacks. For example, many state officials believed that 
integrating legislative authority could result in increased 
coordination between federal agencies and states. Some state officials 
described the efforts needed to address invasives as requiring broad, 
interdisciplinary coordination and characterized the current federal 
effort as fragmented and ineffective. For example, one state official 
told us that dealing with multiple federal agencies and multiple levels 
within an agency makes coordination on invasive species issues 
difficult, especially when the species cross state boundaries. The 
official cited, as an example, delays in controlling saltcedar due to 
local federal officials who opposed control because it might threaten 
endangered species that were using the plant; regional federal 
officials subsequently approved the control measures. Another state 
official said that because the state must deal with numerous federal 
agencies in managing its invasive species program, communications are 
sometimes difficult. An official from another state said that because 
there is no clear federal authority for invasive species, the state 
does not know with whom it should deal because there are many different 
agencies and programs involved. Also, many state officials saw an 
increased focus on pathways for invasive species--as opposed to 
focusing on specific species--as a possible gain of integrating 
authority for aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Such an 
approach could facilitate more effective and efficient efforts to 
address invasive species. 

Regarding the perceived drawbacks of integrating authority for aquatic 
and terrestrial invasive species, many state officials said that it 
could be difficult to address all possible situations for both types of 
invasive species. Some state officials said the two types of invasives 
should be handled separately, given the different ecological 
complexities, pathways of entry and spread, and control methods and 
expertise needed. In addition, some officials stated that combining 
legislative authority would result in competition for resources among 
various invasive species programs. In particular, one official referred 
to the "issue of the moment" phenomenon, where a specific invasive 
species becomes the focus of great public attention and receives a 
large share of resources, while many other species may get very few 
resources. Many state officials also identified reduction in state 
authority and flexibility and complexity in implementation as a 
potential drawback to integrated legislation.

We will are sending copies of this report to the Co-Chairs of the 
National Invasive Species Council. We will also make copies available 
to others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staffs have any questions, please call me at (202) 512-
3841. Kevin Bailey, John Delicath, Jill Ann Roth Edelson, Byron S. 
Galloway, Curtis Groves, Trish McClure, Judy Pagano, and Amy Webbink 
were key contributors to this report.

Barry T. Hill:

Director, Natural Resources and Environment:

Signed by Barry T. Hill:

Enclosures:

Enclosure I: 

Survey of State Agencies -- Invasive Species Legislative Authority: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]

Enclosure II: 
Survey of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee on Invasive Species 
Legislative Authority: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

[End of section]
 
Enclosure III: 

Scope and Methodology:

At the request of the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Committee on 
Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee on Fisheries, 
Wildlife, and Water, U.S. Senate, we obtained the perspectives of state 
officials responsible for managing terrestrial and aquatic invasive 
species and Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) members on the 
(1) gaps in, or problems with, federal legislation addressing invasive 
species, (2) barriers to managing invasive species, (3) effective 
federal leadership structures for addressing invasive species, and (4) 
integrating federal aquatic and terrestrial invasive species 
legislation, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of such 
legislation.

To obtain the perspectives of state officials and ISAC members, we 
distributed two surveys: one was sent to agencies that manage and 
control invasive species in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 
and the other was sent to 24 ISAC members. An E-mail was sent to each 
participant describing the survey and asking them to identify any other 
agencies that might manage invasive species. Through information from 
this introductory E-mail, prior GAO reports, and ISAC's Web site, a 
survey was sent to one agriculture agency and one wildlife agency and/
or additional agencies that manage invasive species for each state. 
Because surveys were sent to all states and ISAC members, there are no 
sampling errors. However, the practical difficulties of conducting any 
survey may introduce errors. Measurement errors are introduced if 
difficulties exist in how a particular question is interpreted or in 
the sources of information available to respondents in answering a 
question. In addition, coding errors may occur if mistakes are entered 
into a database. 

We took extensive steps in the development of the surveys, the 
collection of data, and the editing and analysis of data to minimize 
total survey error. To reduce measurement error, we conducted pretests 
with four states (California, Florida, Hawaii, and Michigan) and a 
member of the ISAC to make sure questions and response categories were 
interpreted in a consistent manner. The four states were chosen based 
on their active invasive species program consisting of both aquatic and 
terrestrial invasive species and their geographic locations. Based on 
the pretests and comments received from the states and the ISAC member, 
we made relevant changes to the questions. Copies of the state and the 
ISAC surveys, along with the results to each question, are in 
enclosures I and II, respectively. In addition, we edited all completed 
surveys for consistency and, if necessary, contacted respondents to 
clarify responses. All questionnaire responses were double-key entered 
into our database (that is, the entries were 100 percent verified), and 
a random sample of the questionnaires was further verified for 
completeness and accuracy. In addition, all computer syntax was peer 
reviewed and verified by separate programmers to ensure that the syntax 
was written and executed correctly.

We made extensive efforts to encourage respondents to complete and 
return the questionnaires, including sending up to four electronic 
reminder E-mail messages to non-respondents, and calling state agency 
officials directly. Our efforts yielded responses from 45 states and 16 
of 24 ISAC members.[Footnote 10] These groups were analyzed and their 
results presented separately. We did not receive a response from any of 
the agencies that manage or control invasive species from Connecticut, 
Maine, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, and the District of 
Columbia.[Footnote 11]

In addition to data on state programs obtained through our survey, we 
obtained information through interviews with officials from state 
agencies that manage and control invasive species. We selected a 
nonprobability sample of states to obtain information on programs and 
perspectives. We selected these states because of their geographic 
location, active invasive species efforts concerning both aquatic and 
terrestrial invasive species, or the number of invasive species 
management challenges they face. In some cases, we also called survey 
respondents to obtain specific examples or explanations for certain 
responses. We also discussed the results of our survey with the 
Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council.

We performed our review from April 2003 through September 2003 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

(360379):

FOOTNOTES

[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Federal Efforts 
and State Perspectives on Challenges and National Leadership, GAO-03-
916T (Washington, D.C.: June 17, 2003). U.S. General Accounting Office, 
Invasive Species: Clearer Focus and Greater Commitment Needed to 
Effectively Manage the Problem, GAO-03-1 (Washington, D.C.: October 22, 
2002). 

[2] Executive Order 13112 created the National Invasive Species 
Council, which is composed of 11 federal departments and agencies, to 
provide national leadership on addressing invasive species and to 
develop a plan for managing them. It also established the ISAC, a 
federal advisory committee established to help the federal government 
develop and implement a national management plan.

[3] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Federal and 
Selected State Funding to Address Harmful Nonnative Species, GAO/RCED-
00-219 (Washington, D. C.: August 2000). 

[4] Estimates are in 2001 dollars. 

[5] Vessels may also retain their ballast on board or use alternative 
ballast water management methods that must be approved by the U.S. 
Coast Guard and be as effective as ballast water exchange in preventing 
and controlling the influx of aquatic organisms. 33 C.F.R.  151.1510

[6] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Obstacles Hinder 
Federal Rapid Response to Growing Threat, GAO-01-724 (Washington, D.C.: 
July 2001).

[7] GAO/RCED-00-219.

[8] GAO-01-724.

[9] U.S. General Accounting Office, Invasive Species: Clearer Focus and 
Greater Commitment Needed to Effectively Manage the Problem, GAO-03-1 
(Washington, D.C.: October 2002).

[10] There were actually 25 members of ISAC, however, one ISAC member 
was also a state official. We only sent this person a state survey, not 
an ISAC survey. Therefore, we reduced the total number of possible ISAC 
responses from 25 to 24.

[11] After the delivery of the testimony on June 17, 2003, we received 
responses from Montana and New Jersey. However, we excluded these 
because of the possibility that the responses might have been 
influenced by the testimony.