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Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: Responsibilities for Developing Explosives and Narcotics Detection Technologies (Letter Report, 04/15/97, GAO/NSIAD-97-95).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how the U.S.
government is organized to develop technologies for detecting explosives
and narcotics, focusing on: (1) the roles, responsibilities, and
authority of agencies that establish policy, provide funds or oversee
funding requests, and develop explosives and narcotics detection
technologies; (2) mechanisms used to coordinate the joint development of
technologies; and (3) efforts to strengthen detection technology
development.

GAO noted that: (1) numerous federal organizations are involved in
developing technologies for detecting explosives and narcotics; (2) the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the key agency responsible for
developing explosives detection technologies for civil aviation
security; (3) in response to the explosion of TWA flight 800, the
President established the White House Commission on Aviation Security
and Safety to recommend ways of improving security against terrorism;
(4) the Commission's recommendations included assigning a new role to
the U.S. Customs Service in screening outbound, international cargo for
explosives; (5) in September 1996, Congress gave the Secretary of
Treasury authority to develop governmentwide standards for canine teams;
(6) regarding narcotics detection, the Office of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP) is responsible for coordinating federal counterdrug
technology efforts and assessing and recommending detection
technologies; (7) Customs, with technology development support and
funding from the Department of Defense, ultimately decides which
technologies will be developed and deployed at U.S. ports of entry; (8)
Customs has not deployed some technologies because it did not believe
that they were affordable, safe, or operationally suitable for its
needs; (9) in addition, Customs and ONDCP have differing views regarding
the types of detection technologies needed along the Southwest border;
(10) joint technology development is important because the types of
technologies used to detect explosives and narcotics are similar; (11)
the developers of narcotics detection technologies have not always
participated in committees that oversee the development of explosives
detection technologies; (12) in the future, Customs plans to participate
in these committees; (13) at the direction of Congress, an interagency
working group on counterterrorism plans to spend $19 million to develop
a system for detecting explosives that Customs may possibly use in a
seaport environment to detect drugs; (14) despite efforts to strengthen
development of explosives and narcotics technologies, GAO found that the
cognizant agencies have not yet agreed to formal understandings on how
to establish standards for explosives detection systems, profiling and
targeting systems, and deploying canine teams at airports; (15) in
addition, they have not agreed on how to resolve issues related to a jo*

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-97-95
     TITLE:  Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: Responsibilities for 
             Developing Explosives and Narcotics Detection
             Technologies
      DATE:  04/15/97
   SUBJECT:  Terrorism
             Explosives
             Interagency relations
             Research and development
             Narcotics
             Customs administration
             Drug trafficking
             Airports
             Search and seizure
IDENTIFIER:  TWA Flight 800
             Pan Am Flight 103
             Department of State Antiterrorism Assistance Program
             DOD Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis Project
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

April 1997

TERRORISM AND DRUG TRAFFICKING -
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR DEVELOPING
EXPLOSIVES AND NARCOTICS DETECTION
TECHNOLOGIES

GAO/NSIAD-97-95

Terrorism and Drug Trafficking

(707220)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
  CTAC - Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center
  DOD - Department of Defense
  FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
  MOU - memorandum of understanding
  NSC - National Security Council
  OMB - Office of Management and Budget
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy
  TNA - Thermal Neutron Analysis
  TSWG - Technical Support Working Group

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-276298

April 15, 1997

The Honorable Benjamin A.  Gilman
Chairman
The Honorable Lee H.  Hamilton
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on International Relations
House of Representatives

The ability to detect hidden explosives and narcotics is important to
U.S.  national security.  The problems of finding a small quantity of
explosives concealed aboard an airplane or a shipment of narcotics
smuggled through U.S.  ports of entry are tremendous challenges to
the technology community.  While various technologies can be used to
detect both explosives and narcotics, relatively little equipment has
been deployed at airports and U.S.  ports of entry.  Recent events,
such as recommendations of a presidential commission on aviation
security, raise questions as to how well U.S.  government agencies
responsible for developing technologies to detect explosives and
narcotics are working together. 

As you requested, we have examined how the U.S.  government is
organized to develop technologies for detecting explosives and
narcotics.  This report discusses (1) the roles, responsibilities,
and authority of agencies that establish policy, provide funds or
oversee funding requests, and develop explosives and narcotics
detection technologies; (2) mechanisms used to coordinate the joint
development of technologies; and (3) efforts to strengthen detection
technology development. 

This report is one of a series you requested dealing with explosives
and narcotics detection.  The first report discussed the threats of
terrorist attacks on civil aviation and of narcotics trafficking into
the United States, strategies developed to meet those threats, and
planned deployments of detection technologies to combat terrorism and
interrupt the shipment of narcotics.\1 Another report in the series
discussed explosives and narcotics detection technologies that are
available or under development.\2 This report completes our work
dealing with explosives and narcotics detection technologies.  We
also testified before various congressional committees on
technology's role in addressing vulnerabilities in aviation security
and issued two classified reports on the threat of terrorism. 


--------------------
\1 Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Threats and Roles of Explosives
and Narcotics Detection Technology (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-76BR, Mar.  27,
1996). 

\2 Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Technologies for Detecting
Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept.  4, 1996). 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

Terrorism and drug trafficking exact a tremendous cost from society. 
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the estimated
cost of one bombed aircraft is about $1 billion, including the price
of litigation for the loss of human lives and property loss.  This
estimate does not include the cost to national security in terms of
U.S.  military and law enforcement response or terrorism's
psychological effect on society--neither of which has been measured. 
FAA is expected to spend an estimated $281 million on aviation
security during fiscal year 1997 for research and development, the
purchase of detection technology equipment, regulatory enforcement,
and policy- and rule-making. 

The annual social cost\3 of narcotics, according to the Office of
National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), is estimated to be about $67
billion, mostly from the consequences of drug-related crime.  This
cost does not include what Americans spend to purchase illegal drugs,
estimated at $49 billion for 1993, the last year for which data is
available.  Federal agencies are expected to spend about $15 billion
during fiscal year 1997 on drug control activities, including
research and development, law enforcement, demand reduction,
interdiction, and international programs. 


--------------------
\3 These social costs include the expense of health care for addicts,
extra law enforcement, crime, and lost productivity resulting from
substance abuse. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Numerous federal organizations--supported by a variety of working
groups, panels, and committees--are involved in developing
technologies for detecting explosives and narcotics.  The Federal
Aviation Administration is the key agency responsible for developing
explosives detection technologies for civil aviation security.  In
response to the explosion of TWA flight 800, the President
established the White House Commission on Aviation Security and
Safety to recommend ways of improving security against terrorism. 
The Commission's recommendations included assigning a new role to the
U.S.  Customs Service in screening outbound, international cargo for
explosives.  In September 1996, Congress gave the Secretary of the
Treasury authority to develop governmentwide standards for canine
teams. 

Regarding narcotics detection, the Office of National Drug Control
Policy is responsible for coordinating federal counterdrug technology
efforts and assessing and recommending detection technologies.  In
addition, Customs, with technology development support and funding
from the Department of Defense, ultimately decides which technologies
will be developed and deployed at U.S.  ports of entry.  Customs has
not deployed some technologies, developed at a cost of about $30
million, because it did not believe that they were affordable, safe,
or operationally suitable for its needs.  In addition, Customs and
the Office of National Drug Control Policy have differing views
regarding the types of detection technologies needed along the
southwest border. 

Joint technology development is important because the types of
technologies used to detect explosives and narcotics are similar. 
The developers of narcotics detection technologies have not always
participated in committees that oversee the development of explosives
detection technologies.  In the future, Customs plans to participate
in these committees.  At the direction of Congress, an interagency
working group on counterterrorism plans to spend $19 million to
develop a system for detecting explosives that Customs may possibly
use in a seaport environment to detect drugs. 

The following efforts are underway to strengthen development of
explosives and narcotics technologies, including the use of canines: 

  -- The Federal Aviation Administration and Customs are preparing a
     memorandum of understanding setting out how they will share
     information and possibly conduct joint research and development
     projects regarding detection technologies of mutual interest. 

  -- The Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol,
     Tobacco, and Firearms are cochairing a group reviewing
     certification standards for explosives detection canines. 

  -- Customs and the Office of National Drug Control Policy are
     working on a 5-year plan to develop new detection technologies,
     and Customs intends to develop a deployment plan acceptable to
     the Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

  -- Customs will participate in the interagency development of a
     relocatable explosives detection system that may have
     counterdrug application, thus possibly benefiting both the
     counterterrorism and counterdrug communities. 

Despite these efforts, we found that the cognizant agencies have not
yet agreed to formal understandings on how to establish standards for
explosives detection systems, profiling and targeting systems, and
deploying canine teams at airports.  In addition, they have not
agreed on how to resolve issues related to a joint-use strategy and
liability.  Furthermore, key decisionmakers are not receiving
periodic comprehensive reports on the aggregated efforts of the
various government entities to develop and field explosives and
narcotics detection technologies.  To address these issues, we have
included a recommendation to the involved agencies and a matter for
congressional consideration. 


   ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED WITH
   DEVELOPING EXPLOSIVES DETECTION
   TECHNOLOGIES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

Four organizations--FAA, the National Security Council (NSC), the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of
Transportation--are responsible for overseeing or developing
explosives detection technologies.  FAA has the primary
responsibility for the development of explosives detection
technologies used to protect commercial aircraft.  From fiscal year
1992 to 1996, FAA provided about $131 million, or an average of $26.2
million per year, for detection technology development. 

NSC established the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) in 1986 to
oversee and coordinate counterterrorism research and development,
including explosives detection technology.\4 TSWG funding for
explosives detection efforts totaled about $14.3 million during
fiscal years 1992-96. 

OMB and the Department of Transportation play more limited roles in
overseeing the FAA budget dealing with explosives detection
technologies.  OMB officials explained that OMB's role is limited
because of the small size of FAA's explosives detection technology
development program.  The Department of Transportation has played a
somewhat more active role in FAA and interagency working groups that
assess the capabilities of the technologies to detect explosives. 

In the aftermath of the TWA 800 explosion in July 1996, the President
established the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and
Security.  The Commission recommended, among other things, that
Customs assume an enhanced role in screening outbound international
air cargo for explosives.  In September 1996, Congress provided the
Secretary of the Treasury the authority to establish scientific
certification standards for explosives detection canines and to
provide for the certification of canines used for such purposes at
U.S.  airports.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
has assumed responsibility for this effort.  In February 1997, the
Commission recommended that ATF continue to work to develop
governmentwide standards for canine teams. 


--------------------
\4 The Department of State provides overall policy guidance to and
oversees the operations of the TSWG.  The Departments of Defense
(DOD) and Energy cochair the TSWG.  All three agencies fund the TSWG
program, with DOD providing most of the funding. 


      HISTORY OF FAA TECHNOLOGY
      PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

Senior FAA officials have stressed that delays in deploying advanced
explosives detection technology are, in part, a function of the
history of their technology planning and development efforts.  FAA
was criticized in 1990 when it announced plans to mandate the
deployment of a specific technology\5 for screening checked baggage
on international flights following the December 1988 crash of Pan Am
103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  At the time, the technology could not
detect the amount of explosives that blew up Pan Am 103 without an
unacceptably high rate of false alarms.  The airline industry
objected to the technology's high cost, large size, slow speed in
processing baggage, and high rate of false alarms. 

The Aviation Security Improvement Act (P.L.  101-604 of  Nov.  1990)
provided a framework for FAA's technology planning.  The act
prohibited FAA from mandating a particular technology until it was
certified as capable of detecting various types and quantities of
explosives, using certification procedures developed in conjunction
with the scientific community.\6 In addition, the act required that
FAA establish a scientific advisory panel\7 to review its
counterterrorism research and development program and recommend
future program areas, including the need for long-range research to
prevent catastrophic damage to commercial aircraft by the next
generation of terrorist weapons. 

FAA's scientific advisory panel recently recommended, among other
things, a reallocation of 1997 research and development funds to
provide an immediate increase in resources for long-term research to
identify and counter emerging terrorist threats.  In response, FAA
increased its request for fiscal year 1997 funding for aircraft
hardening and chemical weapons detection. 

In its final report dated February 12, 1997, the White House
Commission on Aviation Safety and Security addressed the question of
whether FAA is the appropriate government agency to regulate aviation
security.  The Commission concluded that because of its extensive
interactions with airlines and airports, FAA is the appropriate
agency.  However, the Commission also stressed that the intelligence
and law enforcement agencies' roles in supporting FAA must be clearly
defined and coordinated. 


--------------------
\5 The technology, known as Thermal Neutron Analysis (TNA), uses
low-energy neutrons to probe targets for the presence of nitrogen in
explosives. 

\6 FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996 allows FAA to deploy commercially
available equipment on an interim basis until the certified equipment
is operationally tested, if the Administrator determines the
deployment will significantly enhance aviation security. 

\7 The panel is referred to as the Security Research and Development
Subcommittee of the Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory
Committee. 


      NSC PROVIDES COORDINATING
      FORUMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

NSC provides a number of forums for coordinating explosives detection
technology issues.  As the primary agency responsible for aviation
security, FAA sought interagency support within one of NSC's forums
in early 1996 for a proposal to improve aviation security.  Another
forum, TSWG, has been involved in developing detection technology for
countering the threat from terrorist use of explosives for several
years. 

In January 1996, FAA briefed the NSC's Coordinating Sub-Group on
Terrorism\8 on threats to civil aviation and the need for a
high-level national policy review on ways of increasing domestic
aviation security.  FAA used this forum because it believed that the
threat of terrorism in the United States was not limited to aviation
and responsibilities for countering terrorism crossed federal agency
lines.  Although FAA discussed the possible use of a presidential
commission to obtain consensus and a legislative mandate on
increasing aviation security domestically, it was agreed instead to
establish a working group within FAA to review the threat against
aviation and recommend options for increasing security in the United
States. 

On July 17, 1996, FAA's Aviation Security Advisory Committee\9 formed
a Baseline Working Group to examine everyday security measures at
U.S.  airports and recommend specific initiatives to strengthen those
measures.  On December 12, 1996, the group recommended several
immediate and long-term improvements, including expansion of FAA's
research and development efforts for explosives detection. 

TSWG has an Explosives Detection Technology Subgroup, chaired by an
FAA representative, to ensure compatibility between TSWG and FAA
research and development programs in the explosives detection
technology arena.  TSWG funds explosives detection technology
projects near the $2.9 million level annually. 

NSC uses TSWG to develop coordinated views regarding the development
of explosives detection technologies.  For example, in August 1996,
the NSC Coordinating Sub-Group on Terrorism requested the State
Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism\10 to review research
in explosives detection equipment and to determine whether additional
funds should be invested in such research.  The Coordinator directed
TSWG to undertake this task.  In October 1996, TSWG recommended (1)
accelerating the development of methods that reduce or eliminate the
human element from the initial threat detection process, (2)
increasing the emphasis on and funding for explosive detection
research and development, and (3) improving the interagency exchange
of information.  According to an NSC official, the first two
recommendations have been implemented through increased funding. 
Regarding the third, he pointed out that improved information
exchange is the constant goal of all agencies. 


--------------------
\8 The Special Assistant to the President (NSC) chairs the
Coordinating Sub-Group on Terrorism, which is comprised of officials
at the level of assistant secretary or the equivalent and convenes
regularly to review ongoing counterterrorism issues in policy,
program, and operational areas. 

\9 Following the explosion of Pan Am 103, the Secretary of
Transportation established the Aviation Security Advisory Committee
in April 1989 to advise FAA on the operational impacts of aviation
security initiatives. 

\10 The Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism is the
Vice Chairman of NSC's Coordinating Sub-Group on Terrorism.  Through
the Interagency Working Group on Counterterrorism, which the
Coordinator chairs, and through various functional interagency
sub-working groups, which report to the Coordinator (including the
Technical Support Working Group), the Coordinator ensures that U.S. 
government counterterrorism programs, strategies, and activities are
developed, coordinated, and executed. 


      CUSTOMS GIVEN AN ENHANCED
      ROLE IN SCREENING AIR CARGO
      FOR EXPLOSIVES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.3

The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security
recommended new roles for Customs in screening outbound international
air cargo for explosives, including updating and acquiring
technologies to do that screening.  Customs had previously not been
involved in developing explosives detection technologies, although it
had developed technologies to screen cargo for various types of
contraband.  Consequently, it had not worked closely with FAA, the
airlines, or TSWG on specifically developing explosives detection
technologies. 

In response to the Commission's recommendations, Customs is using $16
million to develop a system to identify high-risk cargo for closer
inspection and $34 million to purchase detection technologies. 
Customs is now determining how to develop an automated targeting
system to process outbound cargo information.  In addition, Customs
may develop a new X-ray technology for examining pallets or improve
other technologies before acquisition. 

Customs' new role presents challenges in coordinating its efforts
with FAA and the aviation industry.  For example, the Customs'
targeting system may be adapted to enable FAA to screen domestic
cargo shipments transported within the United States.  In addition,
Customs may be required to ensure that its narcotics detection
technologies can meet FAA standards for screening cargo for
explosives.  To date, Customs and FAA have held informal discussions
on technical issues but have not prepared a memorandum of
understanding setting out their respective roles to help meet these
challenges. 

As a part of its new role, Customs must also enter into agreements
with the airline industry for the joint use of the detection
technologies.\11 In a letter to the Commission dated January 13,
1997, Customs stated that a memorandum of understanding is being
established with FAA to coordinate the identification and deployment
of the "joint use" screening equipment.  Customs has decided that
such an agreement will be limited to sharing information and to
possibly developing joint research and development projects.  FAA
strongly believes that such a memorandum of understanding should
include standards for the use of explosives detection systems,
development of a joint-use strategy, the resolution of liability
concerns, and the development of profiling and targeting systems to
identify potentially threatening passengers and cargo. 


--------------------
\11 The Omnibus Appropriations Act for 1997 provides funds for the
purchase and installation of advanced cargo inspection equipment
technology for the joint use of air carriers, airports, or other
cargo authorities and Customs. 


      ATF'S NEW ROLE IN DEVELOPING
      STANDARDS FOR EXPLOSIVES
      DETECTION CANINES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.4

Although FAA has used canines for explosives detection at airports
since the 1970s, in September 1996 Congress authorized the Secretary
of the Treasury to develop governmentwide explosives detection
certification standards for canines and to certify such canines for
use at airports.  ATF has assumed responsibility for this effort, and
an interagency working group has been established to develop uniform
standards.  FAA believes that a memorandum of understanding is needed
with ATF to address the deployment of canine teams at airports. 

Both FAA and ATF have canine programs.  As of February 25, 1997,
FAA's program had 81 certified explosives detection canine teams
deployed to
31 airports.  FAA requires intensive training in aviation
environments on aircraft, in terminals, and around baggage, airport
vehicles, and cargo.  In fiscal year 1997, FAA received $8.9 million
for certifying an additional
114 canines. 

ATF has certified 115 explosives and firearms detection canine teams
for use by 7 foreign countries in support of the Department of
State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program.  According to an ATF
official, these ATF-certified canines are trained to perform preblast
detection duties in various overseas environments, including
airports.  In fiscal year 1997, ATF received $7.5 million, of which
$3.5 million was specifically earmarked for construction and
expansion of a canine training facility.  Congress also authorized
the Secretary of the Treasury to establish scientific certification
standards for canines and to certify, on a reimbursable basis,
canines employed by federal agencies at airports in the United
States. 

In 1996, the House Appropriations Committee expressed concern about
multiple and possibly duplicative or wasteful programs for training
dogs to detect explosives.  The Committee directed that ATF establish
a pilot canine explosives detection program with FAA to foster
cooperation, coordination, and consistency between their two
programs.  The two agencies are working out the details for the pilot
program. 

In August 1996, the Coordinating Sub-Group on Terrorism requested a
study on the use of canines for counterterrorism purposes.  As a
result, a joint effort was begun by FAA and ATF, which agreed to rely
principally on a group comprised of various agencies' chemists and
canine trainers to make recommendations to them.  Since 1992, TSWG
has used its own funds, as well as funds provided by DOD, FAA, and
ONDCP, for canine research projects. 

The White House Commission of Aviation Safety and Security
recommended that FAA establish federally mandated standards for
security enhancements, including the deployment of explosive
detection canine teams.  FAA believes that a memorandum of
understanding is needed with ATF to address standards for deploying
canine teams at airports because ATF has assumed responsibility for
establishing governmentwide certification standards for explosives
detecting canines. 


      OMB OVERSEES EXPLOSIVES
      DETECTION TECHNOLOGY FUNDING
      REQUESTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.5

OMB officials said that they play a limited role in overseeing FAA's
explosives detection technology development program because of the
small amount of funding for that program relative to funding for all
of FAA.  They also told us that the extent of their oversight has
traditionally been to ensure that the FAA budget meets presidential
priorities and is adequately justified. 

However, OMB became more active and participated in FAA's Baseline
Working Group because of the increased threat of terrorism.  Several
FAA officials stated that OMB participation was important because the
cost of improving security was being estimated at billions of dollars
and consideration was being given to shifting the responsibility of
funding from the airlines to the government.  An OMB official
expressed the view that the government might need to be more
concerned about research and development efforts if it has to pay for
equipment resulting from such efforts. 

In addition, OMB prepared the President's fiscal year 1997
antiterrorism proposal, including incorporating the recommendations
of the White House Commission.  As such, OMB worked with FAA on such
issues as pricing explosives detection technologies that FAA would
purchase with the additional funding. 


   AGENCIES INVOLVED WITH
   DEVELOPING NARCOTICS DETECTION
   TECHNOLOGIES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

Four agencies--ONDCP, Customs, DOD, and OMB--are primarily
responsible for coordinating or developing narcotics detection
technologies.  The congressionally established Counterdrug Technology
Assessment Center (CTAC) within ONDCP is responsible, among other
things, for coordinating federal counterdrug technology efforts and
assessing and recommending narcotics detection technologies. 
Customs, because of its mission to interdict drugs at U.S.  ports of
entry, is ultimately responsible for deciding on the types of
technologies to be developed and used.  As congressionally directed,
DOD has been primarily responsible for funding and developing most of
the innovative narcotics detection technologies for Customs. 
Recently, OMB became involved in overseeing Customs' plans for
developing and deploying narcotics detection technologies. 

Agencies have not always agreed on the most appropriate technologies
to detect narcotics at U.S.  ports of entry.  Two technologies funded
at about $30 million have been developed but not deployed.  More
recently, differing views between ONDCP and Customs regarding the
type of systems needed along the southwest border led to varying
directions from congressional committees.  These differing views
between ONDCP and Customs stem, in part, from recommendations
presented in a congressionally mandated study on costs and benefits
of specific technologies.  These differences may be resolved as
Customs, in coordination with ONDCP, develops a methodology and a
5-year plan for transitioning technologies from development to
deployment. 


      CTAC COORDINATES DEVELOPMENT
      OF NARCOTICS DETECTION
      TECHNOLOGIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

CTAC coordinates the counterdrug technology research and development
efforts of 21 federal agencies.  In addition, CTAC funds its own
development projects to address gaps in technologies that provide the
greatest support to the various counterdrug activities of federal,
state, and local agencies.  During fiscal years 1992-96, CTAC funding
for detection technologies amounted to about $8.4 million, or an
average of about $1.7 million per year. 

In coordinating the counterdrug research and development program,
CTAC attempts to prevent duplication of effort and to ensure that,
whenever possible, those efforts provide capabilities that transcend
the needs of any single agency.  CTAC relies on its interagency
Science and Technology Committee to help prioritize projects
supported with CTAC funds.  The projects are generally managed by a
member agency.  In addition, a Contraband Detection Working Group was
established under this Committee to provide an interagency forum to
focus other agencies' research activities on technology areas that
support the contraband detection requirements of law enforcement
agencies. 

In August 1996, the Director, ONDCP, committed to revitalizing the
Science and Technology Committee and its working groups.  Among other
things, the Director proposed that the Committee act as a steering
body with membership at a level senior enough to make commitments to
research and development policy decisions.  An ONDCP official
informed us that the Committee is currently focusing on developing a
5-year technology plan. 


      CUSTOMS RELIES ON DOD TO
      DEVELOP MOST NARCOTICS
      DETECTION TECHNOLOGIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2

While Customs has the operational need for detection technologies,
Congress tasked DOD to develop most of these technologies because DOD
was already developing technologies that could be adapted for
narcotics detection.  During fiscal years 1992-96, DOD funded
detection technologies for about $73 million, or an average of about
$14.6 million per year.  Over the same period, Customs funded
detection technologies amounting to about $3.1 million, or an average
of about $620,000 per year. 

In 1990, the House Appropriations Committee tasked DOD, in
coordination with Customs, to develop a comprehensive plan for
developing drug detection technology for use in inspecting cargo
containers.  The Committee cited cargo containers as a major threat
for the import of illegal drugs into the United States and identified
specific technologies that should be pursued. 

In April 1994, DOD began testing a high-energy X-ray system\12
capable of penetrating fully loaded containers, at a specially
constructed port in Tacoma, Washington.  DOD and CTAC viewed the
system as a key step toward the development of effective,
nonintrusive cargo inspection technologies.\13 The tests showed that
high-energy X-ray technology could be an effective tool in detecting
drugs in a broad range of vehicles and in containers carrying varying
types of cargo.  DOD spent about $15 million for facility
construction and system testing.  However, ONDCP, Customs, and DOD
agreed in December 1994 to dismantle the site because Customs did not
believe that the system was affordable, safe, or operationally
suitable for its needs. 

Based on experiences with the Tacoma high-energy system, Customs and
DOD entered into a restructured development program to ensure that
DOD would develop only those technologies that would be transitioned
by Customs into an operational environment.  Based on this
understanding, DOD also discontinued work on a Pulsed Fast Neutron
Analysis project\14 after spending about $15 million because Customs
was likewise concerned about its affordability, safety, and
operational suitability. 


--------------------
\12 The system scans a target with X-ray at an energy level of 8
million electron volts, or about 50 to 70 times the energy of a
typical airport passenger X-ray. 

\13 Nonintrusive inspection technology refers to a variety of
advanced systems that will permit Customs officials to inspect cargo
and conveyances for the presence of narcotics without physically
opening or entering the shipment. 

\14 Like the TNA mentioned on page 5, the Pulsed Fast Neutron
Analysis probes targets, using neutrons, for the presence of
explosives or narcotics.  However, unlike TNA, it uses high-energy
neutrons as opposed to low-energy neutrons, allowing reliable
detection of carbon and oxygen found in narcotics as well as nitrogen
found in explosives. 


      OMB OVERSEES NARCOTICS
      DETECTION TECHNOLOGY FUNDING
      REQUESTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.3

For fiscal years 1996 and 1997, OMB questioned Customs' funding
requests for truck X-ray systems to be placed at U.S.  ports of entry
along the southwest border.  These systems use a low-energy X-ray
source\15 capable of penetrating empty trucks and other conveyances. 
OMB limited Customs' use of the funds until certain conditions were
met, citing its concern that a low-energy system had limited
capabilities for inspecting fully loaded containers.  OMB requested a
comprehensive border technology plan that would focus effective
inspection technologies in the areas of greatest need. 

In response, Customs prepared a plan favoring the use of fixed-site
truck X-ray systems as well as mobile or relocatable systems. 
Customs stated that the large number of empty trucks crossing the
southwest border presents a very high threat because they sometimes
carry drugs.  As a result, Customs wanted a system to inspect for
drugs concealed within the structure of the truck.  Customs stated
that the low-energy X-ray system has been effective in detecting
drugs concealed in these empty trucks, is safe, and fits into
available space.  In addition, acquisition costs are estimated at $3
million, operating expenses are low, and training requirements are
minimal compared to the high-energy X-ray system built at Tacoma and
the Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis system. 

OMB continues to believe that Customs needs a range of technologies
for the southwest border.  Thus, OMB plans to stay informed on issues
dealing with the development of those technologies and has started
attending ONDCP meetings on developing narcotics detection
technologies so that it can become aware of emerging issues. 


--------------------
\15 Rated at 450 thousand electron volts, about three or four times
the energy of a typical passenger X-ray system at an airport. 


      EFFECT OF DIFFERENCES
      BETWEEN ONDCP AND CUSTOMS ON
      CONGRESSIONAL DIRECTION
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.4

Congressional committees have provided differing direction regarding
the development and acquisition of narcotics detection technologies. 
One committee, supporting Customs needs, recommended funding for a
certain technology, while another committee, responding to ONDCP
concerns, directed a moratorium on the purchase of such technology. 
The differences stem, in part, from recommendations presented in a
congressionally mandated study on costs and benefits of specific
technologies. 

In September 1994, Congress mandated a study on the cost and benefit
tradeoffs in different nonintrusive inspection systems.  The study,
released in September 1996, concluded that Customs should accelerate
the development and implementation of an automated system for
screening documents to target cargo for further inspection.  For land
ports, the study recommended that only the automated targeting system
be deployed. 

Conferees on the National Defense Appropriations Act for 1997
provided DOD with $6 million for DOD's purchase of low-energy truck
X-ray systems to be used by Customs.  Conferees to the 1997 Treasury,
Postal Service, and General Appropriations Act stated that they were
aware of the tradeoff study's conclusion that deployment of advanced
technology at land sites and seaports can make a significant
improvement to drug interdiction efforts.  The conferees directed a
moratorium on the purchase of the low-energy systems until Customs
reevaluated its plans regarding the automated targeting system and to
both low- and high-energy systems.  They further directed that
Customs present Congress with an integrated plan responding to the
recommendations in the tradeoff study. 

Customs issued a response February 6, 1997, which stated that empty
trucks crossing the southwest border are a very high threat.  As a
result, Customs wanted a system to examine trucks returning empty to
the United States.  Customs also stated that it would work with DOD
and ONDCP to identify and evaluate new inspection technologies that
would complement the capabilities of the low-energy system. 
According to ONDCP, a promising technology currently under
development may be as effective.  This system, which will be mobile,
is expected to cost about one fifth the estimated $3 million cost of
the low-energy system.  Over the next few months, Customs and DOD
will evaluate this new technology to inspect empty trucks. 


      CUSTOMS SUPPORTS A
      METHODOLOGY FOR DEPLOYMENT
      AND A PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.5

Development of the current generation of narcotics detection
technologies is nearing completion, but Customs does not have a
detailed methodology for determining which technologies should be
acquired.  Nonetheless, Custom's future development efforts are
expected to be a part of the Director of ONDCP's recent proposal for
a 5-year technology plan for developing narcotics supply and demand
reduction technologies.\16

The congressionally mandated tradeoff study recommended that Customs
adopt a methodology similar to the one it used for assessing
procurement options.  The study also pointed out that the variation
among the ports require a port-by-port analysis to assess the need
for specific technologies at each port.  Customs has acknowledged
that a methodology was needed but noted that the methodology
presented in the study was only one of several possible approaches
and did not realistically consider personnel and funding constraints. 

ONDCP and other federal agencies are creating a 5-year technology
plan.  As part of this plan, the agencies will prepare a road map for
developing nonintrusive inspection technologies and upgrading
existing systems.  For example, Customs and DOD are expected to set
out their plans for developing mobile or relocatable high-energy
systems\17 for drug interdiction.  Both Customs and DOD plan to
evaluate the capabilities of the high-energy X-ray system for its
ability to detect narcotics concealed in cargo containers.  ONDCP
plans to review the results of this evaluation. 


--------------------
\16 Supply technologies are used for interdiction, including
detection, while demand reduction technologies focus on education,
training, prevention, and rehabilitation. 

\17 High energy systems are defined as having an energy level of at
least 2 million electron volts, about 13 to 18 times the energy of a
typical X-ray system found at an airport. 


   COORDINATION OF DETECTION
   TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

We reported earlier that various technologies, with modifications,
can be used to detect both explosives and narcotics.\18 During work
on this report, we found that formal coordination between developers
of explosives and narcotics detection technologies was not a two-way
street.  We did find, however, that results of research and testing
are shared among the technology developers and overseers through
personal contacts or through symposiums.  In addition, Customs and
FAA have done joint work on systems such as TNA and trace detectors. 
Canines provide a special opportunity for coordination because they
can be trained to respond in specific ways to smells of explosives
and narcotics. 

The developers of explosives detection technologies are active
participants on committees that oversee the development of narcotics
detection technologies.  FAA has participated in ONDCP's Science and
Technology Committee and its Contraband Detection Working Group since
their inception to provide a linkage between explosives and narcotics
detection technology development.  However, the developers of
narcotics detection technologies have generally not been included in
committees that oversee the development of explosives detection
technologies.  Customs has not been a member of the scientific
advisory panel that reviews FAA's research and development program
and recommends ways to improve the program.  Based on our inquiries,
an FAA official said that including Customs on the panel may add some
additional insight from the developers of narcotics detection
technologies.  FAA included Customs as a member of the panel
effective February 13, 1997. 

Although Customs is a member of TSWG, it has not participated in the
explosives detection subgroup.  Officials agreed that Customs would
benefit from participating in this subgroup because of its
interagency coordination activities.  Customs says that it plans to
begin participating in the subgroup. 

The relocatable Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis system is an example of
a technology development that may benefit from closer coordination. 
In fiscal year 1996, Congress provided TSWG with $6.2 million to
evaluate the capabilities of a relocatable Pulsed Fast Neutron
Analysis system to detect explosives hidden in cargo.  This
evaluation will cover a 30-month period and eventually cost about $19
million.  As noted earlier, this technology was developed to detect
narcotics concealed in large containers but was not adopted for use
by Customs because it did not believe that the system was affordable,
safe, or operationally suitable for its needs. 

Customs advised TSWG that it wants to participate in the development
of the system.  A Customs official said that should the system meet
concerns about safety and other operational issues, they would
support its installation at a seaport where fully load containers are
of concern and its performance could be assessed for both counterdrug
and counterterrorism applications. 


--------------------
\18 Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Technologies for Detecting
Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept.  4, 1996). 


   OPPORTUNITIES TO STRENGTHEN
   DETECTION TECHNOLOGY
   DEVELOPMENT
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

Our work identified efforts underway that if successfully completed
could significantly strengthen development of explosives and
narcotics technologies.  For example, in explosives detection
technology development, FAA is working closely with Customs and ATF,
both of which have new roles to play.  In narcotics detection
technology development, Customs is working with ONDCP on a 5-year
technology plan and with TSWG on an explosives detection system that
may have application to narcotics detection.  However, these agencies
have not yet established formal understandings on how to develop
standards for aviation security enhancements and numerous related
issues.  Moreover, comprehensive reports on the U.S.  government's
efforts to develop explosives and narcotics detection technology are
not periodically provided to key decisionmakers. 

Regarding explosives detection technology development, we found that: 

  -- FAA and Customs are preparing a memorandum of understanding
     setting out how they will share information and possibly conduct
     joint research and development projects regarding detection
     technologies of mutual interest. 

  -- ATF has assumed a new role to develop governmentwide standards
     for explosives detection canines and has begun a joint effort
     with FAA by cochairing a policy group.  They agreed to rely
     principally on a group comprised of various agencies' chemists
     and canine trainers, including a representative from TSWG, to
     make recommendations to the policy group. 

FAA strongly believes that memorandums of understanding are needed
with Customs and ATF for developing standards for aviation security
enhancements, including the use of explosives detection systems,
development of a joint-use strategy, resolution of liability
concerns, development of profiling and targeting systems to identify
potentially threatening passengers and cargo, and deployment of
canine teams at airports.  However, to date, little or no progress
has been made in achieving such understandings, and the involved
agencies have not developed a coordinated approach for handling such
issues. 

Regarding narcotics detection technology development, we found the
following: 

  -- ONDCP and Customs disagree on the appropriate methodology for
     deciding which technologies to transition from development to
     deployment.  According to ONDCP, the methodology should require
     a port-by-port analysis to assess the need for specific
     technologies at each port.  On the other hand, Customs prefers a
     methodology that does not add to its or industry's
     data-reporting requirements.  Nevertheless, both agencies are
     working on a 5-year technology plan to develop new detection
     technologies, and Customs told us that it intends to develop a
     methodology that is acceptable to ONDCP. 

  -- Customs advised the NSC's TSWG that it would participate in the
     development of a system that may have counterdrug application. 
     In addition, a Customs official has been informally monitoring
     the system's development.  However, as now being developed, the
     system will not include requirements unique to a narcotics
     detection application.  ONDCP believes that Customs' involvement
     with the system will be a worthwhile effort. 

Our review indicated that no one in the executive branch has
aggregated into a single report information on the totality of what
is being done on the development of explosives and narcotics
detection technology, the nature and extent of resources that the
various agencies are applying, the informal coordination and
integration efforts, and the types of emerging issues that must be
addressed.  Currently, no reports are periodically provided to key
decisionmakers in the executive branch or Congress. 


   CONCLUSION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

We generally endorse the actions being undertaken by the agencies as
the initial steps to strengthening the coordination of explosives and
narcotics detection technology development.  However, FAA, Customs,
and ATF need to work closer as a team to solve complex technological
issues.  Establishing memorandums of understanding among the agencies
could help define the agencies' roles and enhance cooperation in
resolving the numerous issues associated with the development of
standards for aviation security enhancements.  Further, the
resolution of differences in views between ONDCP and Customs on
needed technology should help serve as a springboard to acting
jointly on the broader problems.  In addition, joint development of
technology may prove beneficial for both explosives and narcotics
detection.  Periodic reports to oversight authorities can help keep
focus on the efforts being taken to develop and deploy technologies
at ports of entry, including airports. 


   RECOMMENDATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

In line with the White House Commission of Aviation Safety and
Security's call for more clearly defining and coordinating the roles
of law enforcement agencies in supporting the FAA, we recommend that
the Secretaries of Transportation and the Treasury establish a
memorandum of understanding on how FAA, Customs, ATF, and other
agencies are to work together in establishing standards, including
the use of explosives detection systems, development of a joint-use
strategy, resolution of liability concerns, development of profiling
and targeting systems to identify potentially threatening passengers
and cargo, and deployment of canine teams at airports. 


   MATTER FOR CONGRESSIONAL
   CONSIDERATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9

Because no single agency in the executive branch has aggregated into
a single report information on what is being done on the development
of explosives and narcotics detection technology, Congress may wish
to direct the Secretaries of Transportation and the Treasury and the
Director, ONDCP, to jointly provide to appropriate congressional
oversight committees an annual report on all of the government's
efforts to develop and field explosives and narcotics detection
technology. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :10

NSC, the Departments of State and Transportation, FAA, ATF, ONDCP,
Customs, DOD, and OMB reviewed a draft of this report and provided
oral or written comments.  They generally agreed with the facts
presented, and their suggested technical corrections have been
incorporated where appropriate.  The written comments of State, FAA,
Customs, ATF, and DOD are presented in appendixes I, II, III, IV, and
V, respectively. 

In responding to a draft of this report, FAA, Customs, and ATF have
taken varying positions on how to develop standards for aviation
security enhancements and address numerous related issues.  We have
therefore modified the report to recommend that the department
secretaries establish a memorandum of understanding for FAA, Customs,
ATF, and other agencies to work together on these issues. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :11

Based on previous work,\19 we initially focused on five agencies that
play the largest roles in developing detection technologies.  During
the course of our work, we identified other agencies that are
beginning to play larger roles in technology development. 

For our work on agencies involved with developing explosives
detection technologies or coordinating their development, we
contacted officials of the Departments of Transportation, Defense,
and State; FAA; NSC; OMB; Customs; and ATF.  We interviewed officials
to identify processes and mechanisms to resolve conflicts when
establishing policy, setting priorities, selecting projects, and
requesting funding.  We also obtained and reviewed key documents,
such as FAA's research and development plan, and identified
circumstances surrounding cases in which agencies disagreed on
technology development. 

For our work on agencies involved with developing narcotics detection
technologies or coordinating their development, we contacted
officials of ONDCP, Customs, DOD, and OMB.  We again interviewed
officials to identify processes and mechanisms to resolve conflicts
when establishing policy, setting priorities, selecting projects, and
requesting funding.  We also obtained and reviewed key documents,
such as the ONDCP's counterdrug research and development plan, and
identified circumstances surrounding cases in which agencies
disagreed on technology development. 

To identify mechanisms for coordinating joint development, we
interviewed officials and gathered information from the NSC's TSWG
and FAA on the committees that oversee explosives detection
technology development efforts.  In addition, we interviewed
officials and gathered information from ONDCP on similar committees
that oversee ONDCP's narcotics detection technology development
efforts.  We analyzed the membership of these committees to see if
there is representation from both the explosives and narcotics
detection technology development communities.  We also examined the
minutes of the committees' meetings to verify that member agencies
from both communities participated in these meetings.  In addition,
we gathered information on a particular technology to show the
benefits of coordination between the two communities.  Finally, we
asked about attendance at various symposiums or other professional
forums. 

Based on our objectives, we identified efforts being initiated to
strengthen coordination of detection technology development and
opportunities to enhance that development. 

OMB did not provide us with all the information we requested.  OMB
officials met with us but did not provide documentation on its
interactions with other federal agencies responsible for developing
explosives and narcotics detection technologies.  As a result, we
relied on other agencies' records to document OMB's role.  In
addition, NSC officials declined to meet with us to clarify its
interaction with the other agencies. 

We performed this phase of work between October 1996 and February
1997 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. 


--------------------
\19 Terrorism and Drug Trafficking:  Technologies for Detecting
Explosives and Narcotics (GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-252, Sept.  4, 1996). 


--------------------------------------------------------- Letter :11.1

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking
Minority Members of other appropriate congressional committees; the
Secretaries of the Treasury, State, Defense, and Transportation; the
Directors, OMB, ONDCP, and ATF; the Administrator, FAA; and the
Commissioner, U.S.  Customs Service. 

If you have any questions regarding this report, please call me on
(202) 512-4841.  Major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix VI. 

Louis J.  Rodrigues
Director
Defense Acquisitions Issues




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
STATE
============================================================== Letter 



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)


The following are GAO's comments on the Department of State's letter
dated March 20, 1997. 

GAO COMMENTS

1.  We have not shown the Departments of Defense (DOD), State, and
Energy as agencies responsible for overseeing or developing
explosives detection technologies.  Instead of showing these agencies
separately, we have grouped them under the National Security
Council's Technical Support Working Group (TSWG).  Specifically, we
state on page 4 that the Department of State provides overall policy
guidance to and oversees the operations of TSWG and that DOD and the
Department of Energy cochair TSWG.  We also state that all three
agencies fund the TSWG program, with DOD providing most of the
funding. 

We also have not shown the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
(ATF) as an agency responsible for overseeing or developing
explosives detection technologies.  In the introduction to the
explosives section, we say that ATF and Customs have assumed new
roles.  We believe that the reference to ATF at this point is
sufficient. 

2.  We have modified the report to reflect this comment. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix II
COMMENTS FROM THE FEDERAL AVIATION
ADMINISTRATION
============================================================== Letter 



(See figure in printed edition.)


The following are GAO's comments on the Federal Aviation
Administration's (FAA) letter dated March 28, 1997. 

GAO COMMENTS

1.  We have incorporated FAA's technical comments in the text where
appropriate. 

2.  We have modified the report to reflect these comments. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
COMMENTS FROM THE U.S.  CUSTOMS
SERVICE
============================================================== Letter 



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)


The following are GAO's comments on the U.S.  Customs Service letter
dated March 20, 1997. 

GAO COMMENTS

1.  In a letter dated January 13, 1997, to the White House Commission
on Aviation Safety and Security, Customs stated a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) is being established with the FAA to coordinate
the identification and deployment of "joint use" screening equipment. 
The letter further stated that a strategy for the joint-use resources
is being developed, with a target date of January 30, 1997, for
completion.  Based on Customs' response to a draft of this report, we
have concluded that Customs has changed its position on establishing
an MOU on joint-use. 

In its response to our draft report, FAA supports the establishment
of such an MOU covering a number of issues.  As a result, there
appears to be disagreement between Customs and FAA as to how they
should address these important issues.  We have therefore modified
the report to recommend that the department secretaries establish a
MOU for FAA, Customs, ATF, and other agencies to work together on
these issues and have also suggested that Congress may wish to
require the involved agencies to periodically report on these
efforts. 

2.  We have modified the report to state that Customs and FAA are
developing an MOU for sharing information and possibly conducting
joint-use research and development projects. 

3.  We have modified the report to reflect this comment. 

4.  FAA has informed us that it may adapt the Customs' targeting
system for screening domestic cargo shipments transported within the
United States.  FAA pointed out that the White House Commission on
Aviation Safety and Security's report, dated February 12, 1997,
states that Customs and FAA are working with an FAA contractor to
study technical issues associated with converting Customs' targeting
system, which was originally designed for sea cargo analysis, to air
cargo analysis. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix IV
COMMENTS FROM THE BUREAU OF
ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, AND FIREARMS
============================================================== Letter 


The following is GAO's comment on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearm's letter dated March 25, 1997. 

GAO COMMENT

1.  We have incorporated ATF's technical comments in the text where
appropriate. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix V
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
============================================================== Letter 


The following is GAO's comment on DOD's letter dated March 24, 1997. 

GAO COMMENT

1.  We have incorporated DOD's technical comments in the text where
appropriate. 


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================== Appendix VI

NATIONAL SECURITY AND
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
WASHINGTON, D.C. 

David E.  Cooper
Ernest A.  D”ring
Charles D.  Groves
John K.  Harper
John P.K.  Ting

*** End of document. ***





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