Combating Terrorism

Comments on Counterterrorism Leadership and National Strategy Gao ID: GAO-01-556T March 27, 2001

The federal government will spend approximately $11 billion to combat terrorism In fiscal year 2001. In the event of a domestic terrorist incident, state and local governments have the primary responsibility for managing the consequences of a terrorist attack. However, the federal government can assist state and local authorities if they lack the capability to respond adequately. On the basis of past and ongoing GAO work, two key issues emerge that the new President and Congress will face concerning programs to combat terrorism. First, the overall leadership and management of such programs are fragmented within the federal government. No single entity acts as the federal government's top official accountable to both the President and Congress. Fragmentation exists in both coordination of domestic preparedness programs and in efforts to develop a national strategy. The Department of Justice worked with other agencies to develop the Attorney General's Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan. Although this plan is the current document that most resembles a national strategy, GAO believes that it still lacks some critical elements including measurable desired outcomes, linkage to resources, and a discussion of the role of state and local governments.

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