An All-of-Government Approach to Increase Resilience for International Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Events
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) events have the potential to destabilize governments, create conditions that exacerbate violence or promote terrorism. This can trigger global repercussions. These events can quickly overwhelm the infrastructure and capability of the responders, especially in countries that do not have the specialized resources for response like those available in the United States. When a CBRNE incident occurs in a partner nation or other foreign country, the U.S. is often called upon to provide assistance. Interoperability – the ability to work together – among U.S. agencies, foreign governments, and responders involved in the effort is key to an efficient response. The effectiveness of the U.S. response and approach to CBRNE events in partner nations depends on the capability of the U.S. government to provide timely and appropriate assistance and the resilience of the partner nation to a CBRNE event.
An All-of-Government Approach to Increase Resilience for International Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Events is the summary of a workshop convened in June 2013 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Research Council to discuss ways to strengthen the U.S. ability to prepare for and respond to CBRNE events that occur in U.S. partner nations. The workshop brought together diverse experts and stakeholders to identify capabilities that are necessary for responding to an international CBRNE event; discuss best practices and resources needed for improved interoperability of the U.S. and partner nation during response to a CBRNE event; and identify key questions that need to be addressed in follow up activities focused on improving U.S. CBRNE response in partner nations.
Audit Report — Management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Biosafety Laboratories (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General
In response to the increase in infectious diseases and the threat of bioterrorism, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories perform research with biological agents. To conduct this biological research, the Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) operate multiple laboratory facilities in accordance with various biosafety levels (BSL) established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BSLs classify the containment level and risk associated with biological agents depending on the threat the agents pose to personnel and the environment. For example, BSL-1 is for low-risk agents; BSL-2 is for medium-risk agents; and BSL-3 is for those agents that cause serious and potentially lethal infections. Department and NNSA sites primarily perform BSL-1 and BSL-2 research; however, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) operates a facility with three BSL-3 laboratories while Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is considering opening a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories. Extensive biological research is performed at LLNL and LANL for other Government agencies through the Department’s Work for Others (WFO) program.
In our report on Coordination of Biological Select Agent Activities at Department of Energy Facilities (DOE/IG-0695, July 2005), we reported that the Department had not developed a plan for construction and operation of its BSL-3 laboratories. Thus, it lacked assurance that capabilities were not being duplicated unnecessarily. As a result of our prior work and Presidential actions to streamline Government and reduce costs, we initiated this audit to determine whether NNSA managed its biosafety laboratories effectively. We limited our review to biosafety laboratories located at LLNL and LANL.
Results of Audit
We found that NNSA was considering a $9.5 million expansion of its BSL-3 and BSL-2 laboratory capabilities at LANL that may not be the most effective use of resources. Specifically, NNSA identified the development of a BSL-3 facility at LANL as its preferred alternative for meeting biosafety laboratory needs even though it had not fully considered the need for and cost effectiveness of additional capacity. Nor, had it developed a sound basis for measuring the utilization of existing facilities – a critical factor in determining the need for additional capacity. Despite the lack of information on the need for additional capacity and current laboratory utilization rates, LANL was also considering building a new BSL-2 facility.
In particular, NNSA proposed development of a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories at LANL. Additionally, LANL is in the early planning stage for constructing a new BSL-2 facility. The estimated cost to open LANL’s new BSL-3 and to construct/open BSL-2 capabilities was about $1.5 million and $8 million, respectively. Given current budget realities, plans to develop additional capabilities without fully demonstrating a need may not be prudent.
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Nuclear Weapons: Ten-Year Budget Estimates for Modernization Omit Key Efforts, and Assumptions and Limitations Are Not Fully Transparent. GAO-14-373, June 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664003.pdf
2. Health Care Access: Improved Oversight, Accountability, and Prioritization Can Improve Access for Native American Veterans. GAO-14-489, June 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664009.pdf
1. Biosurveillance: Observations on the Cancellation of BioWatch Gen-3 and Future Considerations for the Program, by Chris Currie, acting director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-14-267T, June 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664000.pdf
2. Afghanistan: Oversight and Accountability of U.S. Assistance, by Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., director, international affairs and trade, before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, House Committee on Foreign Affairs. GAO-14-680T, June 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664033.pdf
3. Information Technology: Reform Initiatives Can Help Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-671T, June 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664031.pdf
4. VA Health Care: Ongoing and Past Work Identified Access, Oversight, and Data Problems That Hinder Veterans’ Ability to Obtain Timely Outpatient Medical Care, by Debra A. Draper, director, health care, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-679T, June 9.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663935.pdf
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Export Controls: NASA Management Action and Improved Oversight Needed to Reduce the Risk of Unauthorized Access to Its Technologies. GAO-14-315, April 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662560.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662975
2. F-22 Modernization: Cost and Schedule Transparency Is Improved, Further Visibility into Reliability Efforts Is Needed. GAO-14-425, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663197.pdf
3. National Nuclear Security Administration: Agency Report to Congress on Potential Efficiencies Does Not Include Key Information. GAO-14-434, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663220.pdf
4. Biological Defense: DOD Has Strengthened Coordination on Medical Countermeasures but Can Improve Its Process for Threat Prioritization. GAO-14-442, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663213.pdf
5. International Labor Grants: Labor Should Improve Management of Key Award Documentation. GAO-14-493, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663202.pdf
6. Financial Audit: Congressional Award Foundation’s Fiscal Years 2013 and 2012 Financial Statements. GAO-14-540, May 15.
1. VA Health Care: VA Lacks Accurate Information about Outpatient Medical Appointment Wait Times, Including Specialty Care Consults, by Debra A. Draper, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-620T, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663194.pdf
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Puerto Rico: Information on How Statehood Would Potentially Affect Selected Federal Programs and Revenue Sources. GAO-14-31, March 4.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661335.pdf
2. Puerto Rico: Informacion Sobre Como la Estatidad Afectaria Determinados Programas y Fuentes de Ingresos Federales. GAO-14-301, March 4.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661704.pdf
3. National Preparedness: HHS Has Funded Flexible Manufacturing Activities for Medical Countermeasures, but It Is Too Soon to Assess Their Effect. GAO-14-329, March 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662121.pdf
4. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-14-340SP, March 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662183.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662072
5. Programa Para Mitigar Activos Problemáticos: Es necesario un mayor esfuerzo en el control de préstamos equitativos y en el acceso a los programas de vivienda por parte de personas sin dominio del ingles. GAO-14-457, March 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662186.pdf
6. American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Economic Indicators Since Minimum Wage Increases Began. GAO-14-381, March 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662128.pdf
7. Missile Defense: Mixed Progress in Achieving Acquisition Goals and Improving Accountability. GAO-14-351, April 1.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662199.pdf
8. Afghanistan: Changes to Updated U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework Reflect Evolving U.S. Role. GAO-14-438R, April 1.
Counterterrorism 2014 Calendar (PDF)
Source: National Counterterrorism Center
NCTC’s Counterterrorism Calendar provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.