Federal Funding for Selected Surveillance Technologies

GAO-02-438R: Published: Mar 14, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 2002.

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Richard M. Stana
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Law enforcement officials rely on new technologies to accomplish their enforcement responsibilities. Although the use of some of these technologies has raised privacy concerns, the attacks of September 11 have prompted calls for the use of surveillance technologies to combat terrorism and other crimes that threaten security. This report discusses the government's funding of research and deployment of three surveillance technologies--facial recognition, red light cameras, and photo radar devices. GAO surveyed 35 federal entities, 17 of which had conducted research and development or testing of one or more of the three technologies. They reported obligating $51 million as of June 2001, with the largest amount reported for facial recognition. All of the 17 respondents obligated funds for research and development, none used funds for deployment, and two promoted the technologies but did not obligate any funds.

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