WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) joined six members of the House Committee on Homeland Security in releasing a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled “Nuclear Forensics:  Comprehensive Interagency Plan Needed to Address Human Capital Issues (GAO-09-527R).”

Nuclear forensics can help determine the source of nuclear and radiological materials and the processes used to create them.  Along with law enforcement and intelligence information, nuclear forensics can be used to attribute a nuclear event to specific perpetrators.  The Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security (DHS), and State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation all contribute to U.S. nuclear forensics efforts, specifically supporting the National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) program within DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

GAO’s report details challenges the NTNF program faces in reducing the amount of time needed to arrive at nuclear forensics conclusions, addressing the shortage of nuclear scientists, and correcting for budget underestimates. 

GAO made the following recommendations:

– Develop a comprehensive interagency plan to address NTNF program personnel shortages;

– Account for the indirect costs borne by agencies not reflected in the NTNF program budget; and

– Evaluate and mitigate the impact of projected reductions in the budgets of programs that agencies need to perform their nuclear forensics missions.

 “Our nuclear forensics efforts require a coordinated, interagency approach,” said Akaka.  “Much work has been done to forge deeper relationships with all of the agencies involved and with the international community.  It is important that agencies take a comprehensive, strategic approach to workforce and budget planning for our country’s nuclear forensic capabilities.  Protecting this country against nuclear and radiological threats demands nothing less.”

Akaka is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, which has responsibility for national security staffing.