In the 1962-74 time period, the Department of Defense (DOD) conducted a classified chemical and biological warfare test program--Project 112--that might have exposed service members and civilian personnel to chemical or biological agents. In 2000 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began obtaining information from DOD about the program. Concerned that veterans and others might have health problems from exposure during Project 112 and similar DOD tests, Congress required DOD in the 2003 Defense Authorization Act to identify Project 112 tests and personnel potentially expose--service members and the number of civilian personnel--and other chemical and biological tests that might have exposed service members. GAO was required by the act and subsequent guidance from the congressional requesters to evaluate (1) DOD's process to identify the Project 112 tests and the service members and the number of civilian personnel potentially exposed, (2) DOD's progress in identifying similar tests outside Project 112, and (3) VA's progress in notifying DOD identified veterans.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. The Secretary of Defense should direct appropriate office(s) to determine the feasibility of addressing unresolved issues associated with Project 112 and the appropriateness of and responsibility for reporting new information, such as the identification of additional potentially exposed service members, civilian employees, contractors, and foreign nationals who participated in the tests.|
|Department of Defense||2. The Secretary of Defense should direct appropriate office(s) to finalize and implement a plan for identifying DOD projects and tests conducted outside Project 112 that might have exposed service members to chemical or biological agents and ensure that the plan addresses the scope, reporting requirements, milestones, and responsibilities for those involved in completing this effort.|
|Department of Defense||3. The Secretary of Defense should direct appropriate office(s) to designate a single point of contact for providing VA, individuals, and other interested parties such as foreign governments, as appropriate, with information related to tests and potential exposures in and outside Project 112.|