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Highlights

Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the National Capital Region (NCR), comprising jurisdictions including the District of Columbia and surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, has been recognized as a significant potential target for terrorism. GAO was asked to report on (1) what federal funds have been allocated to NCR jurisdictions for emergency preparedness; (2) what challenges exist within NCR to organizing and implementing efficient and effective regional preparedness programs; (3) what gaps, if any, remain in the emergency preparedness of NCR; and (4) what has been the role of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in NCR to date.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response 1. To help ensure that emergency preparedness grants and associated funds are managed in a way that maximizes their effectiveness, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should work with the NCR jurisdictions to develop a coordinated strategic plan to establish goals and priorities for enhancing first responder capacities that can be used to guide the use of federal emergency preparedness funds.
Closed - Implemented
In 2004, GAO recommended that the National Capital Region (NCR) develop a strategic plan to establish and monitor the achievement of regional goals and priorities for emergency preparedness and response. In September 2006, the NCR approved a strategic plan that included all six characteristics GAO considers desirable for a regional homeland security strategy. The plan included regional priorities and presented the rationale for the goals and related objectives and initiatives, which could be used to guide the use of federal emergency preparedness funds. This included information on how the plan addresses national priorities and targeted capabilities from the National Preparedness Goal, an Emergency Management Accreditation Program assessment of local and regional preparedness and emergency management capabilities against recognized national standards, and DHS's Nationwide Plan Review of emergency plans. The plan structure was more streamlined, containing an overview, core plan, and detailed appendix with information on factors such as risks, costs, and roles and responsibilities.
Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response 2. To help ensure that emergency preparedness grants and associated funds are managed in a way that maximizes their effectiveness, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should monitor the plan's implementation to ensure that funds are used in a way that promotes effective expenditures that are not unnecessarily duplicative.
Closed - Not Implemented
DHS did not implemented this recommendation.
Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response 3. To help ensure that emergency preparedness grants and associated funds are managed in a way that maximizes their effectiveness, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should identify and address gaps in emergency preparedness and evaluate the effectiveness of expenditures in meeting those needs by adapting standards and preparedness guidelines based on likely scenarios for NCR and conducting assessments based on them.
Closed - Not Implemented
DHS has not implemented this recommendation. While DHS has made progress in identifying and addressing gaps in emergency preparedness and evaluated the effectiveness of expenditures in meeting those needs by adapting standards and preparedness guidelines for emergency preparedness overall, it has not specifically addressed the National Capital Region.

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