by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The federal program responsible for detecting and deterring the international smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials cannot measure its progress, a government watchdog says.
The Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence program, or NSDD, is a key prong of the federal government’s effort to ensure that terrorists do not get ahold of nuclear or radiological materials to create weapons of mass destruction. The program has spent $1 billion over five years to provide equipment and training to other countries to counter nuclear smuggling. It plans to spend $809 million over the next five years.
But the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released Friday that the program “cannot measure its progress toward completing key activities” because its current goals are not measurable and do not address all tasks relevant to the program, in addition to other shortcomings.
“NSDD cannot measure its progress toward completing key activities and achieving these goals,” the report explains.
“NSDD’s goals are not all measurable, some describe actions rather than outcomes, and they do not fully address all of the program’s key activities,” the report continues. “In addition, its performance measures are not aligned with these goals, and its program plan does not detail how it will complete key program activities or achieve its goals.”
Without being able to measure progress, the program’s officials may not be able to recognize when their mission is accomplished. They also risk “continuing to deploy equipment past the point of diminishing returns,” the auditors said.