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Earthquakes: Additional Actions Needed to Identify and Mitigate Risks to Federal Buildings and Implement an Early Warning System

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

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Earthquakes pose a significant threat to people and infrastructure because of their capacity to cause catastrophic casualties, property damage, and economic disruption. According to the USGS, 16 states have a relatively high likelihood of experiencing damaging ground shaking in the next 50 years, and nearly half of all Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes. GAO was asked to review efforts to mitigate against earthquakes impacts in the United States. Specifically, this report address 1 actions select cities have taken to mitigate seismic risks, 2 the distribution of federal buildings relative to earthquake prone areas and actions to identify and mitigate seismic risks to these buildings, and 3 what is known about the benefits of USGSs earthquake early warning system, ShakeAlert, and the extent to which implementation challenges are being addressed. GAO reviewed key documents and federal authorities collected federal building inventory information conducted site visits to selected cities--Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Memphis and interviewed, among others, federal, state, and local officials.

Subject Categories:

  • Seismology
  • Structural Engineering and Building Technology

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]