Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Congress responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001, with dramatic funding increases to combat terrorism. Even before these attacks, Congress was concerned about increased funding in this area, and based on findings from a 1997 GAO report, mandated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report annually on funding to combat terrorism. In this review, GAO was asked to analyze such funding trends, describe difficulties in coordinating combating terrorism budgets, assess data reported to Congress, and describe the executive branch's efforts to maximize the effective use of combating terrorism funds. The review relied on OMB's definition of "combating terrorism" to include both homeland security and overseas combating terrorism missions.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget 1. To help Congress obtain timely information on spending that supports the President's annual budget request for combating terrorism, OMB should require agencies to provide information on obligations in its MAX database--the database used by OMB to produce the President's annual budget request.
Closed - Not Implemented
According to 2007 OMB guidance, OMB is tracking obligations for domestic homeland security spending, but is not tracking obligations for combating terrorism overseas. OMB has not tracked obligations data in the MAX database and states that agencies' ability to track such information is limited. Nevertheless, OMB instituted a new process in its February 2003 submission of the FY 2004 President's Budget that it believes is consistent with GAO's recommendation. Specifically, OMB asked agencies to enter budget authority and outlays for homeland security and combating terrorism in the database used to prepare the President's Budget. As a result, for the first time, such information was available to Congress in February with the President's budget.
Office of Management and Budget 2. To improve the usefulness of OMB's Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, OMB should publish the report by the required March 1 deadline to provide information for congressional budget deliberations.
Closed - Not Implemented
Section 889 of the Homeland Security Act requires OMB report on funding data for homeland security activities in the President's budget, which is due the first Monday in February. Therefore, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 actually accelerated the timeline for reporting this data. Not implemented. As of July 31, 2003, the Annual Report had not been issued. According to OMB, the majority of agency appropriations were not completed until late February, making it impractical to get the report out on time. However, more data was provided to Congress at an earlier date. OMB asked agencies to enter budget authority and outlays for homeland security and combating terrorism in the database used to prepare the President's Budget. As a result, for the first time, such information was available to Congress in February with the President's budget.
Office of Management and Budget 3. To improve the usefulness of OMB's Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, OMB should include obligations as reported in the MAX database.
Closed - Not Implemented
GAO-06-170 reported that OMB staff continue to cite the effort required to produce such data. While OMB staff acknowledged that OMB examiners use obligation data in assessing the appropriateness of agency budget requests overall, they have felt that budget authority data provide the most insight into combating terrorism programs and facilitate follow up on areas of concern. Additionally, the Analytic Perspectives of the FY 08 President's Budget does not report obligation information, only budget authority data. OMB instituted a new process in its February 2003 submission of the FY 2004 President's Budget that it believes is consistent with GAO's recommendation. Specifically, OMB asked agencies to enter budget authority and outlays for homeland security and combating terrorism in the database used to prepare the President's Budget. As a result, for the first time, such information was available to Congress in February with the President's budget.
Office of Management and Budget 4. To improve the usefulness of OMB's Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, OMB should include, as required by Congress, an analysis of areas where overlap in programs could result in unnecessary duplication of effort.
Closed - Not Implemented
Section 889 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 repealed OMB's prior reporting requirements, including the duplication analysis.
National Security Council 5. To help maximize the effective use of funds for combating terrorism, the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and National Security Council (NSC) should include national-level, as well as federal governmentwide, performance measures as a supplement to existing strategies and in future revisions to strategies for homeland security and the combating of terrorism overseas.
Closed - Not Implemented
The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism issued in September 2006 includes priorities for action and outlines how the government hopes to accomplish the tasks; however, it does not provide any concrete performance measures.
Office of Homeland Security 6. To help maximize the effective use of funds for combating terrorism, the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and National Security Council (NSC) should include national-level, as well as federal governmentwide, performance measures as a supplement to existing strategies and in future revisions to strategies for homeland security and the combating of terrorism overseas.
Closed - Not Implemented
The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism issued in September 2006 includes priorities for action and outlines how the government hopes to accomplish the tasks; however, it does not provide any concrete performance measures.
Office of Management and Budget 7. To help maximize the effective use of funds for combating terrorism, OMB, in conjunction with OHS and NSC, should direct relevant Departments to develop or enhance performance objectives and measures for combating terrorism in alignment with performance measures in national strategies.
Closed - Implemented
Partially implemented. OMB has placed a higher priority on enhancing program evaluation and developing performance measures. Specifically, OMB developed the Program Assessment and Rating Tool, which was used to evaluate a cross section of federal programs, and their scores were published in the FY 2004 President's Budget--including a subset of homeland security and terrorism related programs.
Office of Management and Budget 8. To help maximize the effective use of funds for combating terrorism, OMB, in conjunction with OHS and NSC, should include performance measures for combating terrorism in the governmentwide plan that OMB is required to produce annually.
Closed - Not Implemented
In GAO-04-38, OMB stated that the President's Budget represents the executive branch's governmentwide performance plan. However, GAO feels that the agency-by-agency focus of the budget does not provide an integrated perspective of government performance. There are no indications that OMB plans to develop federal or national-level performance measures related to combating terrorism or homeland security.

Full Report