Need for Uniform Security Measures in Transporting Arms, Ammunition, and Explosives

LCD-78-237: Published: Dec 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1978.

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Arms, ammunition, and explosives receive various degrees of protection while in transit. Because these items continue to be sought by terrorist, dissident, and criminal groups, they are sensitive items, vulnerable to theft or loss. Mandatory regulations exist for storage but not for security on shipment of certain sensitive items. GAO compared the intransit security policies, procedures, and practices used by the military services for sensitive arms, ammunition and explosives. Shipments by commercial manufacturers, distributors, or other vendors, other than Department of Defense (DOD), were not governed by mandatory intransit security regulations.

Although the highest level of security protection is provided by the Army, the greatest number of losses is also experienced. Uniform intransit security procedures are needed, since shipments to non-DOD customers should be considered as vulnerable to theft or loss as DOD shipments. A study is needed to develop uniform standards and regulations, with input from representatives of affected public and private sectors. DOD has developed a manual of uniform standards and criteria for minimum intransit security, but until the Department of Transportation (DOT) issues mandatory regulations, the individual services must implement DOD's minimum requirements to ensure reasonable uniformity. An assessment of the costs of implementing the minimum standards is needed to ensure that funding will be available.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation giving the Secretary of Transportation specific authority to issue mandatory regulations which will provide for uniform intransit security on shipments of sensitive arms, ammunition, and explosives.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should work with Congress in preparing legislation needed to obtain the authority to issue mandatory, uniform regulations for uniform intransit security. The Secretary should also establish a study group made up of members from DOD, DOT and Treasury, and industry as well, to determine the levels of security required to protect sensitive arms, ammunition, and explosives during transit. On the basis of the study results, the Secretary should issue mandatory intransit security regulations. In the interim, the Secretary of Defense should monitor the implementation of the new DOD security manual provisions among DOD activities to insure that uniform minimum standards are followed. In addition, the Secretary should revise or supplement existing systems to accumulate data on intransit security costs for developing cost-benefit analyses to be used for determining and evaluating the desirability of continuing or modifying security procedures.

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