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United States General Accounting office: GAO: 


Before the Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial 
Management, and Intergovernmental Relations, Committee on Government 
Reform, House of Representatives:

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. 
Monday, July 1, 2002:

Homeland Security: Intergovernmental Coordination and Partnership Will 
Be Critical to Success:

Statement of JayEtta Hecker: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure:


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I appreciate the opportunity to be here to discuss issues critical to 
successful federal leadership of, assistance to, and partnership with 
state and local governments to enhance homeland security. As you are 
aware, the challenges posed by homeland security exceed the capacity 
and authority of any one level of government. Protecting the nation 
against these unique threats calls for a truly integrated approach, 
bringing together the resources of all levels of government.

In my testimony today, I will focus on the challenges facing the 
federal government in (1) establishing a leadership structure for 
homeland security, (2) defining the roles of different levels of 
government, (3) developing performance goals and measures, and (4) 
deploying appropriate tools to best achieve and sustain national 
goals. My comments are based on a body of GAO’s work on terrorism and 
emergency preparedness and policy options for the design of federal 
assistance, [Footnote 1] our review of many other studies, [Footnote 
2] and the Comptroller General’s June 25, 2002, testimony on the new 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal. In addition, I will 
draw on GAO’s ongoing work for this Subcommittee, including an 
examination of the diverse ongoing and proposed federal preparedness 
programs, as well as a series of case studies we are conducting that 
examine preparedness issues facing state and local governments. To 
date, we have conducted interviews of officials in four geographically 
diverse cities: Baltimore, Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana; Denver, 
Colorado; and, Los Angeles, California. We have also interviewed state 
emergency management officials in these states.

In summary:

* The proposed Department of Homeland Security will clearly have a 
central role in the success of efforts to enhance homeland security. 
Many aspects of the proposed consolidation of homeland security 
programs have the potential to reduce fragmentation, improve 
coordination, and clarify roles and responsibilities. Realistically, 
however, in the short term, the magnitude of the challenges that the 
new department faces will clearly require substantial time and effort, 
and will take additional resources to make it effective. Moreover, 
formation of a department should not be considered a replacement for 
the timely issuance of a national homeland security strategy, which is 
needed to guide implementation of the complex mission of the department.

* Appropriate roles and responsibilities within and between the levels 
of government and with the private sector are evolving and need to be 
clarified. New threats are prompting a reassessment and shifting of 
longstanding roles and responsibilities, but these shifts are being 
considered on a piecemeal and ad hoc basis without benefit of an 
overarching framework and criteria to guide the process. A national 
strategy could provide such guidance by more systematically 
identifying the unique capacities and resources of each level of 
government to enhance homeland security and by providing increased 
accountability within the intergovernmental system.

* The nation does not yet have performance goals and measures upon 
which to assess and improve preparedness at all levels of government. 
Standards are a common set of criteria that can demonstrate success, 
promote accountability and determine areas where additional resources 
are needed, such as improving communications and equipment 
interoperability. Standards could also be used to help set goals and 
performance measures as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of 
federal programs. In the intergovernmental environment, these are 
often best defined through cooperative, partnership approaches.

* A careful choice of the most appropriate assistance tools is 
critical to achieve and sustain national goals. The choice and design 
of policy tools, such as grants, regulations, and tax incentives, can 
enhance the capacity of all levels of government to target areas of 
highest risk and greatest need, promote shared responsibilities by all 
parties, and track and assess progress toward achieving national 
preparedness goals.


Homeland security is a complex mission that involves a broad range of 
functions performed throughout government, including law enforcement, 
transportation, food safety and public health, information technology, 
and emergency management, to mention only a few. Federal, state, and 
local governments have shared responsibility in preparing for 
catastrophic terrorist attacks as well as other disasters. The initial 
responsibility for planning, preparing, and response falls upon local 
governments and their organizations--such as police, fire departments, 
emergency medical personnel, and public health agencies--which will 
almost invariably be the first responders to such an occurence. For 
its part, the federal government has principally provided leadership, 
training, and funding assistance. 

The federal government’s role in responding to major disasters has 
historically been defined by the Stafford Act, [Footnote 3] which 
makes most federal assistance contingent on a finding that the 
disaster is so severe as to be beyond the capacity of state and local 
governments to respond effectively. Once a disaster is declared, the 
federal government--through the Federal Emergency Management Agency 
(FEMA)--may reimburse state and local governments for between 75 and 
100 percent of eligible costs, including response and recovery 

In addition to post disaster assistance, there has been an increasing 
emphasis over the past decade on federal support of state and local 
governments to enhance national preparedness for terrorist attacks. 
After the nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 
1995, and the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, the United 
States initiated a new effort to combat terrorism. In June 1995, 
Presidential Decision Directive 39 was issued, enumerating 
responsibilities for federal agencies in combating terrorism, 
including domestic terrorism. Recognizing the vulnerability of the 
United States to various forms of terrorism, the Congress passed the 
Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996 (also known as 
the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici program) to train and equip state and local 
emergency services personnel who would likely be the first responders 
to a domestic terrorist event. Other federal agencies, including those 
in FEMA; the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and 
Energy; and the Environmental Protection Agency, have also developed 
programs to assist state and local governments in preparing for 
terrorist events.

As emphasis on terrorism prevention and response grew, however, so did 
concerns over coordination and fragmentation of federal efforts. More 
than 40 federal entities have a role in combating and responding to 
terrorism, and more than 20 in bioterrorism alone. Our past work, 
conducted prior to the establishment of an Office of Homeland Security 
and a proposal to create a new Department of Homeland Security, has 
shown coordination and fragmentation problems stemming largely from a 
lack of accountability within the federal government for terrorism-
related programs and activities. Further, our work found there was an 
absence of a central focal point that caused a lack of a cohesive 
effort and the development of similar and potentially duplicative 
programs. Also, as the Gilmore Commission report notes, state and 
local officials have voiced frustration about their attempts to obtain 
federal funds from different programs administered by different 
agencies and have argued that the application process is burdensome 
and inconsistent among federal agencies.

President Bush took a number of important steps in the aftermath of 
the terrorist attacks of September 11TH to address the concerns of 
fragmentation and to enhance the country’s homeland security efforts, 
including the creation of the Office of Homeland Security in October 
2001. The creation of such a focal point is consistent with a previous 
GAO recommendation. [Footnote 4] The Office of Homeland Security 
achieved some early results in suggesting a budgetary framework and 
emphasizing homeland security priorities in the President’s proposed 

Proposed Department Will Have A Central Role in Strengthening Homeland 

The proposal to create a statutorily based Department of Homeland 
Security holds promise to better establish the leadership necessary in 
the homeland security area. It can more effectively capture homeland 
security as a long-term commitment grounded in the institutional 
framework of the nation’s governmental structure. As we have 
previously noted, the homeland security area must span the terms of 
various administrations and individuals. Establishing a Department of 
Homeland Security by statute will ensure legitimacy, authority, 
sustainability, and the appropriate accountability to Congress and the 
American people. 

The President’s proposal calls for the creation of a Cabinet 
department with four divisions, including Chemical, Biological, 
Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures; Information Analysis and 
Infrastructure Protection; Border and Transportation Security; and 
Emergency Preparedness and Response. Table 1 shows the major 
components of the proposed department with associated budgetary 

Table 1: Department of Homeland Security Component Funding (FY 2003 

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures.

Civilian Biodefense Research Programs (HHS); Dollars in millions: 
FTE (1): 150.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (DOE); Dollars in millions: 
FTE (1): 324.

National BW Defense Analysis Center (New); Dollars in millions: $420; 
FTE (1): [Empty].

Plum Island Animal Disease Center (USDA); Dollars in millions: $25; 
FTE (1): 124.

Dollars in millions: $3,626; 
FTE (1): 598.

Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.

Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (Commerce); Dollars in 
millions: $27; 
FTE (1): 65.

Federal Computer Incident Response Center (GSA); Dollars in millions: 
FTE (1): 23.

National Communications System (DOD); Dollars in millions: $155; 
FTE (1): 91.

National Infrastructure Protection Center (FBI); Dollars in millions: 
FTE (1): 795.

National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (DOE); Dollars 
in millions: $20; 
FTE (1): 2.

Dollars in millions: $364; 
FTE (1): 976.

Border and Transportation Security.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (DOJ); Dollars in millions: 
FTE (1): 39,459.

Customs Service (Treasury); 
Dollars in millions: $3,796; 
FTE (1): 21,743.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA); Dollars in 
millions: $1,137; 
FTE (1): 8,620.

Coast Guard, (DOT); 
Dollars in millions: $7,274; 
FTE (1): 43,639.

Federal Protective Services (GSA); Dollars in millions: $418; 
FTE (1): 1,408.

Transportation Security Agency (DOT) (2); Dollars in millions: $4,800; 
FTE (1): 41,300.

Dollars in millions: $23,841; 
FTE (1): 156,169. 

Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Federal Emergency Management Agency; Dollars in millions: $6,174; 
FTE (1): 5,135.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Response Assets (HHS); 
Dollars in millions: $2,104; 
FTE (1): 150.

Domestic Emergency Support Team; 
Dollars in millions: [Empty]; 
FTE (1): [Empty].

Nuclear Incident Response (DOE); 
Dollars in millions: $91; 
FTE (1): [Empty].

Office of Domestic Preparedness (DOJ); Dollars in millions: [Empty]; 
FTE (1): [Empty].

National Domestic Preparedness (FBI); Dollars in millions: $2; 
FTE (1): 15.

Dollars in millions: $8,371; 
FTE (1): 5,300.

Secret Service (Treasury); 
Dollars in millions: $1,248; 
FTE (1): 6,111.

Total, Department of Homeland Security; Dollars in millions: $37,450; 
FTE (1): 169,154.

Note: Figures are from FY 2003 President’s Budget Request.

(1) Estimated, final FTE figures to be determined.

(2) Before fee recapture of $2,346 million.

Source: “Department of Homeland Security,” President George W. Bush, 
June 2002.

[End of table]
The DHS would be responsible for coordination with other executive 
branch agencies involved in homeland security, including the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. 
Additionally, the proposal to establish the DHS calls for coordination 
with nonfederal entities and directs the new Secretary to reach out to 
state and local governments and the private sector in order to:

* ensure that adequate and integrated planning, training, and 
exercises occur, and that first responders have the equipment they 

* coordinate and, as appropriate, consolidate the federal government’s 
communications systems relating to homeland security with state and 
local governments’ systems;:

* direct and supervise federal grant programs for state and local 
emergency response providers; and:

* distribute or, as appropriate, coordinate the distribution of 
warnings and information to state and local government personnel, 
agencies and authorities, and the public.

Many aspects of the proposed consolidation of homeland security 
programs are in line with previous recommendations and show promise 
towards reducing fragmentation and improving coordination. For 
example, the new department would consolidate federal programs for 
state and local planning and preparedness from several agencies and 
place them under a single organizational umbrella. Based on its prior 
work, GAO believes that the consolidation of some homeland security 
functions makes sense and will, if properly organized and implemented, 
over time lead to more efficient, effective and coordinated programs, 
better intelligence sharing, and a more robust protection of our 
people, and borders and critical infrastructure.

However, as the Comptroller General has recently testified, [Footnote 
5] implementation of the new department will be an extremely complex 
task, and in the short term, the magnitude of the challenges that the 
new department faces will clearly require substantial time and effort, 
and will take additional resources to make it effective. Further, some 
aspects of the new department, as proposed, may result in yet other 
concerns. As we reported on June 25, 2002, [Footnote 6] the new 
department would include public health assistance programs that have 
both basic public health and homeland security functions. These dual-
purpose programs have important synergies that should be maintained 
and could be disrupted, as the President’s proposal was not 
sufficiently clear on how both the homeland security and public health 
objectives would be accomplished.

In addition, the recent proposal for establishing DHS should not be 
considered a substitute for, nor should it supplant, the timely 
issuance of a national homeland security strategy. At this time, a 
national homeland security strategy does not exist. Once developed, 
the national strategy should define and guide the roles and 
responsibilities of federal, state, and local entities, identify 
national performance goals and measures, and outline the selection and 
use of appropriate tools as the nation’s response to the threat of 
terrorism unfolds.

Challenges Remain in Defining Appropriate Intergovernmental Roles:The 
new department will be a key player in the daunting challenges of 
defining the roles of the various actors within the intergovernmental 
system responsible for homeland security. In areas ranging from fire 
protection to drinking water to port security, the new threats are 
prompting a reassessment and shift of longstanding roles and 
responsibilities. However, proposed shifts in roles and 
responsibilities are being considered on a piecemeal and ad hoc basis 
without benefit of an overarching framework and criteria to guide this 
process. A national strategy could provide such guidance by more 
systematically identifying the unique capacities and resources of each 
level of government and matching them to the job at hand. 

The proposed legislation provides for the new department to reach out 
to state and local governments and the private sector to coordinate 
and integrate planning, communications, information, and recovery 
efforts addressing homeland security. This is important recognition of 
the critical role played by nonfederal entities in protecting the 
nation from terrorist attacks. State and local governments play 
primary roles in performing functions that will be essential to 
effectively addressing our new challenges. Much attention has already 
been paid to their role as first responders in all disasters, whether 
caused by terrorist attacks or natural hazards. State and local 
governments also have roles to play in protecting critical 
infrastructure and providing public health and law enforcement 
response capability.

Achieving national preparedness and response goals hinge on the 
federal government’s ability to form effective partnerships with 
nonfederal entities. Therefore, federal initiatives should be 
conceived as national, not federal in nature. Decisionmakers have to 
balance the national interest of prevention and preparedness with the 
unique needs and interests of local communities. A “one-size-fits-all” 
federal approach will not serve to leverage the assets and 
capabilities that reside within state and local governments and the 
private sector. By working collectively with state and local 
governments, the federal government gains the resources and expertise 
of the people closest to the challenge. For example, protecting 
infrastructure such as water and transit systems lays first and most 
often with nonfederal levels of government. 

Just as partnerships offer opportunities, they also pose risks based 
upon the different interests reflected by each partner. From the 
federal perspective, there is the concern that state and local 
governments may not share the same priorities for use of federal 
funds. This divergence of priorities can result in state and local 
governments simply replacing (“supplanting”) their own previous levels 
of commitment in these areas with the new federal resources. From the 
state and local perspective, engagement in federal programs opens them 
up to potential federal preemption and mandates. From the public’s 
perspective, partnerships if not clearly defined, risk blurring 
responsibility for the outcome of public programs.

Our fieldwork at federal agencies and at local governments suggests a 
shift is potentially underway in the definition of roles and 
responsibilities between federal, state and local governments with far 
reaching consequences for homeland security and accountability to the 
public. The challenges posed by the new threats are prompting 
officials at all levels of government to rethink long standing 
divisions of responsibilities for such areas as fire services, local 
infrastructure protection and airport security. The proposals on the 
table recognize that the unique scale and complexity of these threats 
call for a response that taps the resources and capacities of all 
levels of government as well as the private sector.

In many areas, the proposals would impose a stronger federal presence 
in the form of new national standards or assistance. For instance, the 
Congress is debating proposals to mandate new vulnerability 
assessments and protective measures on local communities for drinking 
water facilities. Similarly, new federal rules have mandated local 
airport authorities to provide new levels of protection for security 
around airport perimeters. The block grant proposal for first 
responders would mark a dramatic upturn in the magnitude and role of 
the federal government in providing assistance and standards for fire 
service training and equipment.

Although promising greater levels of protection than before, these 
shifts in roles and responsibilities have been developed on an ad hoc 
piecemeal basis without the benefit of common criteria. An ad hoc 
process may not capture the real potential each actor in our system 
offers. Moreover, a piecemeal redefinition of roles risks the further 
fragmentation of the responsibility for homeland security within local 
communities, blurring lines of responsibility and accountability for 
results. While federal, state, and local governments all have roles to 
play, care must be taken to clarify who is responsible for what so 
that the public knows whom to contact to address their problems and 
concerns. The development of a national strategy provides a window of 
opportunity to more systematically identify the unique resources and 
capacities of each level of government and better match these 
capabilities to the particular tasks at hand. If developed in a 
partnerial fashion, such a strategy can also promote the 
participation, input and buy in of state and local partners whose 
cooperation is essential for success.

Governments at the local level are also moving to rethink roles and 
responsibilities to address the unique scale and scope of the 
contemporary threats from terrorism. Numerous local general-purpose 
governments and special districts co-exist within metropolitan regions 
and rural areas alike. Many regions are starting to assess how to 
restructure relationships among contiguous local entities to take 
advantage of economies of scale, promote resource sharing, and improve 
coordination of preparedness and response on a regional basis.

For example, mutual aid agreements provide a structure for assistance 
and for sharing resources among jurisdictions in preparing for and 
responding to emergencies and disasters. Because individual 
jurisdictions may not have all the resources they need to acquire 
equipment and respond to all types of emergencies and disasters, these 
agreements allow for resources to be regionally distributed and 
quickly deployed. The terms of mutual aid agreements vary for 
different services and different localities. These agreements provide 
opportunities for state and local governments to share services, 
personnel, supplies, and equipment. We have found in our fieldwork 
that mutual aid agreements can be both formal and informal and provide 
for cooperative planning, training, and exercises in preparation for 
emergencies and disasters. Additionally, some of these agreements 
involve private companies and local military bases, as well as local 

Performance Goals and Measures Needed in Homeland Security Programs:

The proposed Department, in fulfilling its broad mandate, has the 
challenge of developing a performance focus. The nation does not have 
a baseline set of performance goals and measures upon which to assess 
and improve preparedness. The capability of state and local 
governments to respond to catastrophic terrorist attacks remains 
uncertain. The president’s fiscal year 2003 budget proposal 
acknowledged that our capabilities for responding to a terrorist 
attack vary widely across the country. The proposal also noted that 
even the best prepared states and localities do not possess adequate 
resources to respond to the full range of terrorist threats we face. 
Given the need for a highly integrated approach to the homeland 
security challenge, performance measures may best be developed in a 
collaborative way involving all levels of government and the private 

Proposed measures have been developed for state and local emergency 
management programs by a consortium of emergency managers from all 
levels of government and have been pilot tested in North Carolina and 
North Dakota. Testing at the local level is planned for fiscal year 
2002 through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). 
EMAP is administered by the National Emergency Management Association--
an association of directors of state emergency management departments--
and funded by FEMA. Its purpose is to establish minimum acceptable 
performance criteria, by which emergency managers can assess and 
enhance current programs to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and 
recover from disasters and emergencies. For example, one such standard 
is the requirement (1) that the program must develop the capability to 
direct, control, and coordinate response and recovery operations, (2) 
that an incident management system must be utilized, and (3) that 
organizational roles and responsibilities shall be identified in the 
emergency operational plans. In recent meetings, FEMA officials have 
said that EMAP is a step in the right direction towards establishing 
much needed national standards for preparedness. FEMA officials have 
suggested they plan on using EMAP as a building block for a set of 
much more stringent, quantifiable standards.

Standards are being developed in other areas associated with homeland 
security. For example, the Coast Guard is developing performance 
standards as part of its port security assessment process. The Coast 
Guard is planning to assess the security condition of 55 U.S. ports 
over a 3-year period, and will evaluate the security of these ports 
against a series of performance criteria dealing with different 
aspects of port security. According to the Coast Guard’s Acting 
Director of Port Security, it also plans to have port authority or 
terminal operators develop security plans based on these performance 

Communications is an example of an area for which standards have not 
yet been developed, but various emergency managers and other first 
responders have continuously highlighted that standards are needed. 
State and local governments often report there are deficiencies in 
their communications capabilities, including the lack of interoperable 
systems. Additionally, FEMA’s Director has stressed the importance of 
improving communications nationwide.

The establishment of national measures for preparedness will not only 
go a long way towards assisting state and local entities determine 
successes and areas where improvement is needed, but could also be 
used as goals and performance measures as a basis for assessing the 
effectiveness of federal programs. At the federal level, measuring 
results for federal programs has been a longstanding objective of the 
Congress. The Congress enacted the Government Performance and Results 
Act of 1993 (commonly referred to as the Results Act). The legislation 
was designed to have agencies focus on the performance and results of 
their programs rather than on program resources and activities, as 
they had done in the past. Thus, the Results Act became the primary 
legislative framework through which agencies are required to set 
strategic and annual goals, measure performance, and report on the 
degree to which goals are met. The outcome-oriented principles of the 
Results Act include (1) establishing general goals and quantifiable, 
measurable, outcome-oriented performance goals and related measures; 
(2) developing strategies for achieving the goals, including 
strategies for overcoming or mitigating major impediments; (3) 
ensuring that goals at lower organizational levels align with and 
support general goals; and (4) identifying the resources that will be 
required to achieve the goals.

However, FEMA has had difficulty in assessing program performance. As 
the president’s fiscal year 2003 budget request acknowledges, FEMA 
generally performs well in delivering resources to stricken 
communities and disaster victims quickly. The agency performs less 
well in its oversight role of ensuring the effective use of such 
assistance. Further, the agency has not been effective in linking 
resources to performance information. FEMA’s Office of Inspector 
General has found that FEMA did not have an ability to measure state 
disaster risks and performance capability, and it concluded that the 
agency needed to determine how to measure state and local preparedness 

In the area of bioterrorism, the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services is 
requiring state and local entities to meet certain performance 
criteria in order to qualify for grant funding. The CDC has made 
available 20 percent of the fiscal year 2002 funds for the cooperative 
agreement program to upgrade state and local public health jurisdictions
’ preparedness for and response to bioterrorism and other public 
health threats and emergencies. However, the remaining 80% of the 
available funds is contingent on receipt, review, and approval of a 
work plan that must contain 14 specific critical benchmarks. These 
include the preparation of a timeline for assessment of emergency 
preparedness and response capabilities related to bioterrorism, the 
development of a state-wide plan for responding to incidents of 
bioterrorism, and the development of a system to receive and evaluate 
urgent disease reports from all parts their state and local public 
health jurisdictions on a 24-hour per day, 7-day per week basis.

Performance goals and measures should be used to guide the nation’s 
homeland security efforts. For the nation’s homeland security 
programs, however, outcomes of where the nation should be in terms of 
domestic preparedness have yet to be defined. The national homeland 
security strategy, when developed, should contain such goals and 
measures and provide a framework for assessing program results. Given 
the recent and proposed increases in homeland security funding as well 
as the need for real and meaningful improvements in preparedness, 
establishing clears goals and performance measures is critical to 
ensuring both a successful and fiscally responsible effort.

Appropriate Tools Need to Be Selected For Providing Assistance:

The choice and design of the policy tools the federal government uses 
to engage and involve other levels of government and the private 
sector to enhancing homeland security will have important consequences 
for performance and accountability. Governments have a variety of 
policy tools including grants, regulations, tax incentives, and 
information-sharing mechanisms to motivate or mandate other levels of 
government or the private sector to address security concerns. The 
choice of policy tools will affect sustainability of efforts, 
accountability and flexibility, and targeting of resources. The design 
of federal policy will play a vital role in determining success and 
ensuring that scarce federal dollars are used to achieve critical 
national goals. 


The federal government often uses grants to state and local 
governments as a means of delivering federal assistance. Categorical 
grants typically permit funds to be used for specific, narrowly 
defined purposes. Block grants typically can be used by state and 
local governments to support a range of activities aimed at achieving 
a broad, national purpose and to provide a great deal of discretion to 
state and local officials. In designing grants, it is important to (1) 
target the funds to state and localities with the greatest need based 
on highest risk and lowest capacity to meet these needs from their own 
resource base, (2) discourage the replacement of state and local funds 
with federal funds, commonly referred to as supplantation, with a 
maintenance-of-effort requirement that recipients maintain their level 
of previous funding, and (3) strike a balance between accountability 
and flexibility. At their best, grants can stimulate state and local 
governments to enhance their preparedness to address the unique 
threats posed by terrorism. Ideally, grants should stimulate higher 
levels of preparedness and avoid simply subsidizing local functions 
that are traditionally state or local responsibilities. One approach 
used in other areas is the “seed money” model in which federal grants 
stimulate initial state and local activity with the intent of 
transferring responsibility for sustaining support over time to state 
and local governments. 

Recent funding proposals, such as the $3.5 billion block grant for 
first responders contained in the president’s fiscal year 2003 budget, 
have included some of these provisions. This grant would be used by 
state and local government’s to purchase equipment, train personnel, 
exercise, and develop or enhance response plans. FEMA officials have 
told us that it is still in the early stages of grant design and is in 
the process of holding various meetings and conferences to gain input 
from a wide range of stakeholders including state and local emergency 
management directors, local law enforcement responders, fire 
responders, health officials, and FEMA staff. Once the details of the 
grant have been finalized, it will be useful to examine the design to 
assess how well the grant will target funds, discourage supplantation, 
provide the appropriate balance between accountability and 
flexibility, and whether it provides temporary “seed money” or 
represents a long-term funding commitment.


Other federal policy tools can also be designed and targeted to elicit 
a prompt, adequate, and sustainable response. In the area of 
regulatory authority, the Federal, state, and local governments share 
authority for setting standards through regulations in several areas, 
including infrastructure and programs vital to preparedness (for 
example, transportation systems, water systems, public health). In 
designing regulations, key considerations include how to provide 
federal protections, guarantees, or benefits while preserving an 
appropriate balance between federal and state and local authorities 
and between the public and private sectors. An example of 
infrastructure regulations include the new federal mandate requiring 
that local drinking water systems in cities above a certain size 
provide a vulnerability assessment and a plan to remedy 
vulnerabilities as part of ongoing EPA reviews while the new 
Transportation Security Act is representative of a national 
preparedness regulation as it grants the Department of Transportation 
authority to order deployment of local law enforcement personnel in 
order to provide perimeter access security at the nation’s airports. 

In designing a regulatory approach, the challenges include determining 
who will set the standards and who will implement or enforce them. 
There are several models of shared regulatory authority offer a range 
of approaches that could be used in designing standards for 
preparedness. Examples of these models range from preemption though 
fixed federal standards to state and local adoption of voluntary 
standards formulated by quasi-official or nongovernmental entities. 
[Footnote 7]:

Tax Incentives:

As the Administration noted protecting America’s infrastructure is a 
shared responsibility of federal, state, and local government, in 
active partnership with the private sector, which owns approximately 
85 percent of our nation’s critical infrastructure. To the extent that 
private entities will be called upon to improve security over 
dangerous materials or to protect critical infrastructure, the federal 
government can use tax incentives to encourage or enforce their 
activities. Tax incentives are the result of special exclusions, 
exemptions, deductions, credits, deferrals, or tax rates in the 
federal tax laws. Unlike grants, tax incentives do not generally 
permit the same degree of federal oversight and targeting, and they 
are generally available by formula to all potential beneficiaries who 
satisfy congressionally established criteria. 

Information Sharing:

Since the events of September 11th, a task force of mayors and police 
chiefs has called for a new protocol governing how local law 
enforcement agencies can assist federal agencies, particularly the 
FBI, given the information needed to do so. As the U.S. Conference of 
Mayors noted, a close working partnership of local and federal law 
enforcement agencies, which includes the sharing of intelligence, will 
expand and strengthen the nation’s overall ability to prevent and 
respond to domestic terrorism. The USA Patriot Act provides for 
greater sharing of intelligence among federal agencies. An expansion 
of this act has been proposed (S1615; H.R. 3285) that would provide 
for information sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement 
agencies. In addition, the Intergovernmental Law Enforcement Sharing 
Act of 2001 (H.R. 3483), which you sponsored Mr. Chairman, addresses a 
number of information sharing needs. For instance, the proposed 
legislation provides that the Attorney General expeditiously grant 
security clearances to Governors who apply for them and to state and 
local officials who participate in federal counter-terrorism working 
groups or regional task forces. 


The proposal to establish a new Department of Homeland Security 
represents an important recognition by the Administration and the 
Congress that much still needs to be done to improve and enhance the 
security of the American people. The DHS will clearly have a central 
role in the success of efforts to strengthen homeland security, but it 
is a role that will be made stronger within the context of a larger, 
more comprehensive and integrated national homeland security strategy. 
Moreover, given the unpredictable characteristics of terrorist 
threats, it is essential that the strategy be formulated at a national 
rather than federal level with specific attention given to the 
important and distinct roles of state and local governments. 
Accordingly, decisionmakers will have to balance the federal approach 
to promoting homeland security with the unique needs, capabilities, 
and interests of state and local governments. Such an approach offers 
the best promise for sustaining the level of commitment needed to 
address the serious threats posed by terrorism. 

This completes my prepared statement. I would be pleased to respond to 
any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.

Contacts and Acknowledgments:

For further information about this testimony, please contact me at 
(202) 512-2834 or Paul Posner at (202) 512-9573. Other key 
contributors to this testimony include Matthew Ebert, Thomas James, 
Kristen Massey, David Laverny-Rafter, Yvonne Pufahl, Jack Schulze, and 
Amelia Shachoy. 

[End of Section]

Related GAO Products:

Homeland Security:

Homeland Security: Proposal for Cabinet Agency Has Merit, But 
Implementation Will Be Pivotal to Success. GAO-02-886T. Washington, 
D.C. June 25, 2002.

Homeland Security: Key Elements to Unify Efforts Are Underway but 
Uncertainty Remains. GAO-02-610. Washington, D.C. June 7, 2002.

National Preparedness: Integrating New and Existing Technology and 
Information Sharing into an Effective Homeland Security Strategy. GAO- 
02-811T. Washington, D.C. June 7, 2002.

Homeland Security: Integration of Federal, State, Local, and Private 
Sector Efforts Is Critical to an Effective National Strategy for 
Homeland Security GAO-02-621T. Washington, D.C. April 11, 2002.

Combating Terrorism: Enhancing Partnerships Through a National 
Preparedness Strategy. GAO-02-549T. Washington, D.C. March 28, 2002.

Homeland Security: Progress Made, More Direction and Partnership 
Sought. GAO-02-490T. Washington, D.C. March 12, 2002.

Homeland Security: Challenges and Strategies in Addressing Short- and 
Long-Term National Needs. GAO-02-160T. Washington, D.C. November 7, 

Homeland Security: A Risk Management Approach Can Guide Preparedness 
Efforts. GAO-02-208T. Washington, D.C. October 31, 2001.

Homeland Security: Need to Consider VA’s Role in Strengthening Federal 
Preparedness.  GAO-02-145T, Washington, D.C. October 15, 2001.

Homeland Security: Key Elements of a Risk Management Approach.   GAO-
02-150T. Washington, D.C. October 12, 2001.

Homeland Security: A Framework for Addressing the Nation’s Issues.   
GAO-01-1158T. Washington, D.C. September 21, 2001.

Combating Terrorism:

Combating Terrorism: Intergovernmental Cooperation in the Development 
of a National Strategy to Enhance State and Local Preparedness. GAO-
02- 550T. Washington, D.C. April 2, 2002. 

Combating Terrorism: Enhancing Partnerships Through a National 
Preparedness Strategy. GAO-02-549T. Washington, D.C. March 28, 2002.

Combating Terrorism: Critical Components of a National Strategy to 
Enhance State and Local Preparedness. GAO-02-548T. Washington, D.C. 
March 25, 2002.

Combating Terrorism: Intergovernmental Partnership in a National 
Strategy to Enhance State and Local Preparedness. GAO-02-547T. 
Washington, D.C. March 22, 2002.

Combating Terrorism: Key Aspects of a National Strategy to Enhance 
State and Local Preparedness. GAO-02-473T. Washington, D.C. March 1, 

Combating Terrorism: Considerations for Investing Resources in 
Chemical and Biological Preparedness. GAO-01-162T. Washington, D.C. 
October 17, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related 
Recommendations.   GAO-01-822. Washington, D.C. September 20, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Actions Needed to Improve DOD’s Antiterrorism 
Program Implementation and Management. GAO-01-909. Washington, D.C. 
September 19, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Comments on H.R. 525 to Create a President’s 
Council on Domestic Preparedness. GAO-01-555T. Washington, D.C. May 9, 

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Options to Improve the Federal 
Response. GAO-01-660T. Washington, D.C. April 24, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Comments on Counterterrorism Leadership and 
National Strategy. GAO-01-556T. Washington, D.C. March 27, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: FEMA Continues to Make Progress in Coordinating 
Preparedness and Response. GAO-01-15. Washington, D.C. March 20, 2001.

Combating Terrorism: Federal Response Teams Provide Varied 
Capabilities; Opportunities Remain to Improve Coordination. GAO-01-14. 
Washington, D.C. November 30, 2000.

Combating Terrorism: Need to Eliminate Duplicate Federal Weapons of 
Mass Destruction Training. GAO/NSIAD-00-64. Washington, D.C. March 21, 

Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Threat of Chemical and 
Biological Terrorism. GAO/T-NSIAD-00-50. Washington, D.C. October 20, 

Combating Terrorism: Need for Comprehensive Threat and Risk 
Assessments of Chemical and Biological Attack. GAO/NSIAD- 99-163. 
Washington, D.C. September 7, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Growth in Federal Programs.   
GAO/T-NSIAD-99-181. Washington, D.C. June 9, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Analysis of Potential Emergency Response 
Equipment and Sustainment Costs. GAO-NSIAD- 99-151. Washington, D.C. 
June 9, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Use of National Guard Response Teams Is 
Unclear.   GAO/NSIAD-99-110. Washington, D.C. May 21, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Federal Spending to Combat 
Terrorism. GAO/T-NSIAD/GGD-99-107. Washington, D.C. March 11, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Opportunities to Improve Domestic Preparedness 
Program Focus and Efficiency. GAO-NSIAD-99-3. Washington, D.C. 
November 12, 1998.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic 
Preparedness Program. GAO/T-NSIAD-99-16. Washington, D.C. October 2, 

Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments Can Help Prioritize 
and Target Program Investments. GAO/NSIAD-98-74. Washington, D.C. 
April 9, 1998.

Combating Terrorism: Spending on Governmentwide Programs Requires 
Better Management and Coordination. GAO/NSIAD-98-39. Washington, D.C. 
December 1, 1997.

Public Health:

Homeland Security: New Department Could Improve Coordination but may 
Complicate Public Health Priority Setting. GAO-02-883T. Washington, 
D.C. June 25, 2002.

Bioterrorism: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Role in 
Public Health Protection. GAO-02-235T. Washington, D.C. November 15, 

Bioterrorism: Review of Public Health and Medical Preparedness.   GAO-
02-149T. Washington, D.C. October 10, 2001.

Bioterrorism: Public Health and Medical Preparedness. GAO-02-141T. 
Washington, D.C. October 10, 2001.

Bioterrorism: Coordination and Preparedness. GAO-02-129T. Washington, 
D.C. October 5, 2001.

Bioterrorism: Federal Research and Preparedness Activities. GAO-01-
915. Washington, D.C. September 28, 2001.

Chemical and Biological Defense: Improved Risk Assessments and 
Inventory Management Are Needed. GAO-01-667. Washington, D.C. 
September 28, 2001.

West Nile Virus Outbreak: Lessons for Public Health Preparedness.   
GAO/HEHS-00-180. Washington, D.C. September 11, 2000.

Need for Comprehensive Threat and Risk Assessments of Chemical and 
Biological Attacks. GAO/NSIAD-99-163. Washington, D.C. September 7, 

Chemical and Biological Defense: Program Planning and Evaluation 
Should Follow Results Act Framework.  GAO/NSIAD-99-159. Washington, 
D.C. August 16, 1999.

Combating Terrorism: Observations on Biological Terrorism and Public 
Health Initiatives. GAO/T-NSIAD-99-112. Washington, D.C. March 16, 1999.

Disaster Assistance:

Disaster Assistance: Improvement Needed in Disaster Declaration 
Criteria and Eligibility Assurance Procedures. GAO-01-837. Washington, 
D.C. August 31, 2001. 

FEMA and Army Must Be Proactive in Preparing States for Emergencies.   
GAO-01-850. Washington, D.C. August 13, 2001.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes 
and Addressing Major Management Challenges. GAO-01-832. Washington, 
D.C. July 9, 2001.

Budget and Management:

Managing for Results: Progress in Linking Performance Plans with 
Budget and Financial Statements. GAO-02-236. Washington, D.C. January 
4, 2002. 

Results-Oriented Budget Practices in Federal Agencies. GAO-01-1084SP. 
Washington, D.C. August 2001.

Managing for Results: Federal Managers’ Views on Key Management Issues 
Vary Widely across Agencies. GAO-01-0592. Washington, D.C. May 2001.

Determining Performance and Accountability Challenges and High 
Risks.   GAO-01-159SP. Washington, D.C. November 2000.

Managing for Results: Using the Results Act to Address Mission 
Fragmentation and Program Overlap. GAO/AIMD-97-156. Washington, D.C. 
August 29, 1997.

Government Restructuring: Identifying Potential Duplication in Federal 
Missions and Approaches. GAO/T-AIMD-95-161. Washington, D.C. June 7, 

Grant Design:

Grant Programs: Design Features Shape Flexibility, Accountability, and 
Performance Information. GAO/GGD-98-137. Washington, D.C. June 22, 1998.

Federal Grants: Design Improvements Could Help Federal Resources Go 
Further. GAO/AIMD-97-7. Washington, D.C. December 18, 1996.

Block Grants: Issues in Designing Accountability Provisions.   
GAO/AIMD-95-226. Washington, D.C. September 1, 1995.

[End of section] 


[1] See attached listing of related GAO products. 

[2] These studies include the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic 
Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass 
Destruction, Third Annual Report (Arlington, Va., Dec. 15, 2001); and 
the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, Road 
Map for Security: Imperative for Change (February 15, 2001).

[3] Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
(P.L. 93-288) as amended establishes the process for states to request 
a presidential disaster declaration. 

[4] U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Selected 
Challenges and Related Recommendations, GAO-01-822 (Washington, D.C. 
June 2002).

[5] U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Responsibility 
and Accountability for Achieving National Goals, GAO-02-627T 
(Washington, D.C. April 11, 2002).

[6] U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Proposal for 
Cabinet Agency Has Merit, but Implementation Will Be Pivotal to 
Success, GAO-02-886T (Washington, D.C. June 25, 2002).

[7] U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: New Department 
Could Improve Coordination but May Complicate Public Health Priority 
Setting, GAO-02-883T (Washington, D.C. June 25, 2002).

[8] or more information on these models, see U.S. General Accounting 
Office, Regulatory Programs: Balancing Federal and State 
Responsibilities for Standard Setting and Implementation, GAO-02-495 
(Washington, D.C. March 20, 2002).