Combating Terrorism

Federal Response Teams Provide Varied Capabilities; Opportunities Remain to Improve Coordination Gao ID: GAO-01-14 November 30, 2000

Eight federal agencies now have teams that can respond to a terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons. Each team varies in size, structure, geographical scope, and task. The teams do not duplicate one another. They have unique capabilities and functions, and many have experience dealing with different types of agents and weapons. The type of terrorist incident would determine which team would be most appropriate to respond. GAO found that federal agencies lack a coherent framework to develop and evaluate budget requirements for their response teams because there is no national strategy with clearly defined outcomes. To improve interagency cooperation, federal agencies have participated in several group activities. For example, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Interagency Steering Group, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is identifying federal response teams that could respond to different terrorist scenarios. Federal, state, and local agencies have also participated in major field exercises that simulated urban terrorist acts. These efforts could go a long way toward improving the operational coordination of federal response teams.


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