Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Actions Needed to Track Budget Execution for Counterproliferation Programs and Better Align Resources with Combating WMD Strategy

GAO-10-755R: Published: Sep 28, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2010.

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Combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery is one of the greatest challenges the United States faces. Traditionally, the use of WMD--which include chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons--has been constrained by the logic of deterrence and of diplomacy, but these constraints may be of less utility in preventing the use of WMD by rogue states or terrorist groups. The Department of Defense (DOD) assigns top priority to dissuading, deterring, and defeating those who seek to harm the United States directly, especially extremist enemies with WMD. In 1994, Congress established an interagency committee, now known as the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee (CPRC), with a variety of duties related to coordinating the activities and programs of federal agencies that address improvements in the U.S. government's efforts to combat WMD. The Secretary of Defense, as chairman of the CPRC, is required to report its findings biennially. The Departments of Energy, State, and Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are also members of the CPRC, and must provide it with access to information on all pertinent programs, projects, and activities. The Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, as chairman of the CPRC Standing Committee, compiles the report of the CPRC and submits it to Congress biennially. GAO has reported extensively in recent years on nonproliferation and consequence management - two of the three pillars of combating WMD. Our most recent report on the third pillar, counterproliferation, was issued in 2000. DOD defines counterproliferation as "those actions taken to defeat the threat and/or use of WMD against the United States, our military forces, friends, and allies." House Armed Services Committee Report 111-166 accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, directed GAO to assess and report on DOD and interagency counterproliferation activities, including the extent to which (1) existing strategies for the combating WMD mission are effective and the strategic framework encompasses a common lexicon, (2) DOD has developed comprehensive plans that are integrated across combating WMD mission areas, and (3) counterproliferation programs and related funding support DOD plans and strategies. In response to discussions with your staff, this report focuses on the extent to which DOD counterproliferation programs and related funding support DOD plans and strategies.7 You asked us to focus on the third objective at this time, to inform Congress as it deliberates on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. We expect to issue our final report, which will address all three objectives, later this year.

Although DOD compiles a biennial list of programs "strongly related to combating WMD" and related costs, it cannot identify with precision what proportion of its resources are devoted specifically to counterproliferation. One of the key elements of an effective national strategy is identifying resources and investments necessary to execute that strategy. However, the CPRC report provides information on only budget requests; it does not provide any data on budget authority or actual outlays. In addition, visibility over how the department's resources support its counterproliferation strategies is limited, in part because those resources are not comprehensively aligned with gaps in counterproliferation capabilities identified by the Joint Staff based on inputs from the combatant commands and other DOD sources. Moreover, efforts across DOD to align resources with identified gaps in its ability to carry out its counterproliferation strategy have not been fully integrated into DOD's budget process. Although the 2009 CPRC report shows what mission areas the various programs/program elements are responsive to, it does not show what functional capability gaps they are designed to mitigate. As a result, the report does not present congressional decision makers with a clear portrait of how counter-WMD gaps translate into DOD funding priorities. We are recommending that DOD report actual appropriations and expenditures as well as budget requests related to counterproliferation in the CPRC report and that DOD align prioritized counterproliferation capability gaps with programs and resources.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommended action. In response, beginning with its 2011 report, the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee (CPRC) began to show both appropriations and expenditures. DOD's actions address the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to track program execution for combating WMD programs as a whole, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, as Chairman of the CPRC Standing Committee, to show actual appropriations and expenditures as well as budget requests when reporting programs in the CPRC report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. In response, beginning with its 2011 report, the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee (CPRC) has begun to link prioritized shortfalls to budget information. DOD's actions address the intent of our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to align resources with its combating WMD strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, to more clearly relate prioritized capability gaps to programs and resources in the CPRC report or other appropriate forum.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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