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Combating terrorism : federal response teams provide varied capabilities; opportunities remain to improve coordination
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    NTL-LAWS AND REGULATIONS-Federal Standards and Rules
  • Abstract:
    The General Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to review federal agency teams that can respond to and help manage the consequences of a domestic terrorist incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents or weapons. This report discusses (1) the characteristics of federal response teams, (2) whether duplication among teams belonging to different agencies exists, (3) the budget requirements process for teams and how the budgets are linked to a national strategy, and (4) initiatives to improve the operational coordination of federal response teams across agency lines. Briefly, eight agencies have 24 types of teams that an respond to a terrorist incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents or weapons to assist state and local governments. These teams vary in their size, composition of personnel, equipment, geographical coverage, transportation needs, and response time. Federal response teams do not duplicate one another. Each team has a unique combination of capabilities and functions when it is deployed to a terrorist incident. Federal agencies lack a coherent framework to develop and evaluate budget requirements for their response teams. Two recent interagency activities could improve the operational coordination among federal response teams, First, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Interagency Steering Group, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is identifying the federal consequence management teams that could be called upon to respond to different terrorist scenarios. Second, response teams continue to participate in various combating terrorism interagency exercises that provide agencies an opportunity to improve the operational coordination of their teams.
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