Weapons Of Mass Destruction: Defense Threat Reduction Agency Addresses Broad Range of Threats, but Performance Reporting Can Be Improved

GAO-04-330 Published: Feb 13, 2004. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2004.
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The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), within the Department of Defense (DOD), plays a key role in addressing the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the visibility of DTRA's role has increased as federal agencies and military commanders have looked to the agency for additional support and advice. GAO was asked to report on DTRA's (1) mission and the efforts it undertakes to fulfill this mission; (2) relationship with other government entities, specifically the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and (3) process that it uses to prioritize resources and assess progress toward organizational goals.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Defense Threat Reduction Agency The Director of DTRA should improve the agency's annual performance report by comparing the agency's actual performance against planned goals and, where appropriate, explaining why the goals were not met and the agency's plan for addressing these unmet goals in the future.
Closed – Implemented
In February 2004 (Weapons of Mass Destruction: Defense Threat Reduction Agency Addresses Broad Range of Threats, but Performance Can be Improved), we recommended, and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) concurred, that the DTRA's performance reporting could be improved. On February 21, 2008, in response to our recommendation, DTRA stated that since our report was published, "DTRA adopted a strategic planning methodology" with quarterly progress reports. These reviews are used to understand why goals might not be met, and to identify recommendations to remediate potential performance shortfalls. Additionally, beginning in 2006, DTRA's Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program is assessed separately by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) through its Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) process. DTRA sent us a copy of the most recent OMB PART assessment, which clearly lays out the performance metrics, program purposes and design, and strategic planning. A DTRA official confirmed that DTRA's changes in performance reporting were in part as a response to GAO's recommendation, and, in part, a refining of their performance reporting. Also, that these changes have improved DTRA's management of their programs, and through the PART process provided more public accountability for the CTR program.

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