Combating Terrorism:

Considerations for Investing Resources in Chemical and Biological Preparedness

GAO-02-162T: Published: Oct 17, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 2001.

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Henry L. Hinton, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Since the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the terrorist threat has risen to the top of the national agenda. Preparing for all possible contingencies is impractical, so a risk management approach should be used. This would include a threat assessment to determine which chemical or biological agents are of greatest concern. The federal government has various programs to prepare for and respond to chemical and biological terrorism, including response teams, support laboratories, training and equipment programs, and research efforts. Evaluations of chemical and biological preparedness have identified several problems and their solutions. Congress faces competing demands for spending as it seeks to invest resources to better prepare our nation for chemical and biological terrorism. Given the uncertainty of the chemical and biological threat, Congress may want to initially invest resources in efforts with broad applicability rather than in those that are applicable to a specific type of chemical or biological attack.

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