Combating Terrorism:

Observations on Federal Spending to Combat Terrorism

T-NSIAD/GGD-99-107: Published: Mar 11, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its work and observations on federal spending to combat terrorism, focusing on: (1) the foreign-origin and domestic terrorism threat; (2) program growth and other issues raised throughout its work on combating terrorism; and (3) steps the executive branch has taken toward improving crosscutting management and coordination and provide some preliminary observations on the 1998 and 1999 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reports to Congress on governmentwide spending and budgeting to combat terrorism.

GAO noted that: (1) the U.S. intelligence community continuously assesses both the foreign-origin and the domestic terrorist threat to the United States and notes that conventional explosives and firearms continue to be the weapons of choice for terrorists; (2) terrorists are less likely to use chemical and biological weapons than conventional explosives, although the possibility that they may use chemical and biological materials may increase over the next decade, according to intelligence agencies; (3) since GAO's work began in 1996, the number and cost of various programs and initiatives to combat terrorism have grown significantly; (4) key agencies involved in activities to combat terrorism reported to GAO that they spent $5.7 billion in fiscal year (FY) 1996; (5) the President's FY 2000 budget requests $10 billion, a $3 billion increase over the $6.7 billion originally requested for FY 1999; (6) this rapid program growth has occurred in the absence of: (a) a governmentwide strategy that includes defined end-state; (b) soundly established, defined, and prioritized program requirements; and (c) crosscutting analyses of individual agencies' budget proposals to ensure that unnecessary duplication and waste are avoided and existing federal, state, and local capabilities are fully leveraged; (7) the executive branch has taken some important steps and made progress towards improving the way it manages and coordinates the growing, complex array of agencies, offices, programs, activities, and capabilities; (8) in addition, in December 1998, the Attorney General issued a classified 5-year interagency plan on counterterrorism and technology crime that includes goals, objectives, and performance indicators and recommendations to resolve interagency problems and issues it identified; (9) the Attorney General is also establishing a National Domestic Preparedness Office at the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reduce state and local confusion over the many federal training and equipment programs to prepare for terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction; (10) also, in May 1998, Presidential Decision Directive 62 further articulated U.S. policy and established a National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism within the National Security Council; and (11) OMB's 1998 and 1999 reports provide unprecedented and helpful insight into enacted funding and budget requests that are for the most part not readily identifiable in the federal budget and appropriations acts.

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