Combating Terrorism

Analysis of Potential Emergency Response Equipment and Sustainment Costs Gao ID: NSIAD-99-151 June 9, 1999

The Defense Department and others are authorized to provide training, equipment, and advice to civilian emergency response personnel to help them respond to a possible terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. GAO reported last year that some local jurisdictions were buying equipment without the benefit of formal threat and risk assessments based on valid threat data. In the absence of defined requirements, this report determines the potential cost of equipping and maintaining the capability of cities to respond to a terrorist incident involving weapons of mass destruction. GAO (1) provides the views of federal, state, and local officials on equipment that they believed would be needed to respond to such an incident and (2) determines the potential procurement and sustainment costs of these items.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO identified over 200 equipment items that federal, state, and local officials believed would enhance their capability to respond to a CBRN incident; (2) these items ranged from standard items such as duct tape and gloves to more sophisticated devices such as mobile command posts and climate control systems; (3) the officials GAO surveyed categorized the items to represent different levels of capability--basic and modest, moderate, and high in comparison to the basic level; (4) a modest increase over basic hazardous materials would include additional detection and decontamination equipment; (5) a moderate increase would include a greater array of detection equipment than the modest level; (6) the high level of increased equipment capability would include additional and more expensive detection equipment; (7) GAO estimated the potential cost of initially procuring and sustaining the equipment items over a 10-year period using a notional city of 500,000; and (8) these costs ranged from a total of about $4.6 million for items considered to provide a basic capability to about $43 million for items considered to provide a high capability.

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