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GAO-09-339R: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

March 12, 2009: 

The Honorable Richard J. Durbin: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Susan M. Collins: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Josť E. Serrano: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Jo Ann Emerson: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center: Clarifying Rationale 
for the Research and Development Funding Decisions Would Increase 
Accountability: 

This letter formally transmits the summary of an oral briefing we gave 
on December 8, 2008, and subsequent agency comments. We gave this 
briefing in response to Senate Report 110-129, accompanying the 2008 
Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. In 
accordance with direction in that report, and in consultation with 
House and Senate Appropriation Committee staff, we are reporting on the 
Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) Counterdrug Technology 
Assessment Center (CTAC). Specifically, we address issues pertaining to 
CTAC's use of funds since fiscal year 2003, the ONDCP Director's 
approach to funding decisions for research and development, CTAC's 
measures of performance, and CTAC's reorganization in 2007. To conduct 
this work, among other things, we analyzed memorandums of agreement and 
CTAC interagency agreements that documented how funds were to be 
allocated during fiscal years 2003 to 2008; compared available 
information on how the ONDCP Director made research and development 
funding decisions for fiscal year 2003 through 2008 with criteria in 
GAO's Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government; and 
interviewed relevant CTAC and ONDCP officials. 

In summary, since fiscal year 2003, CTAC has allocated funds to a 
variety of efforts to treat and prevent drug abuse and reduce the 
availability, production, and distribution of illicit drugs by 
transferring appropriated funds for its two programs--research and 
development and technology transfer--to its contracting agents. 
However, CTAC officials lacked confidence in the information on 
expenditures provided by its contractor, prompting CTAC to replace its 
primary contracting agent in March 2007. CTAC's contracting agents did 
not obligate $17.8 million (about 20 percent) of CTAC's fiscal year 
2004 through 2007 research and development appropriations to specific 
projects, and returned these funds to CTAC. CTAC transferred all of its 
appropriations related to its technology transfer program since fiscal 
year 2003 to contracting agents, and CTAC was in the process of phasing 
out the program in October 2008 due to lack of funding. The ONDCP 
Director's approach to making research and development funding 
decisions is not documented and, therefore, not fully consistent with 
internal control standards. Thus, we are recommending that the ONDCP 
Director identify the role that different factors play in funding 
decisions, and document the basis used to select particular research 
and development project concepts for funding, including the rationale 
for selecting certain project concepts over others. For additional 
information on a summary of the results of our work, see slides 13 
through 15. 

In commenting on a draft of this report, ONDCP agreed with our findings 
and recommendation. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees, the Director of ONDCP, and other interested parties. This 
report will also be available at no charge on our Web site at 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. Should you or your staffs have any 
questions concerning this report, please contact me at (202) 512-6510 
or LarenceE@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this 
report. Key contributors to this report were Evi Rezmovic, Assistant 
Director; Billy Commons; Marvin McGill; Doris Page; Janay Sam; and Adam 
Vogt. 

Signed by: 

Eileen R. Larence: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 

Enclosure: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure: Briefing for Congressional Committees: 

Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center: 

Clarifying Rationale for Research and Development Funding Decisions 
Would Increase Accountability: 

Briefing Overview: 
* Introduction; 
* Objectives, Scope, and Methodology; 
* Summary; 
* Findings; 
* Conclusions; 
* Recommendation; 
* Agency Comments; 
* Appendixes: 
- Appendix I: Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center Funding; 
- Appendix II: Strategy and Office of National Drug Control Policy 
Priorities; 
- Appendix III: Research and Development and Technology Transfer
Program Funding Process; 
- Appendix IV: Research and Development and Technology Transfer
Program Award Process; 
- Appendix V: Reorganization Timeline; 
- Appendix VI: Office of National Drug Control Policy Comment Letter. 

Introduction: 

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) establishes 
priorities, policies, and objectives for the nationís drug control 
program. The Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC) was 
established within ONDCP in fiscal year 1991 to (1) oversee and 
coordinate counterdrug technology initiatives in federal drug control
agencies and (2) fund counterdrug research projects to help fill gaps 
in the development of technology. 

CTAC administers two programs to support the Presidentís National Drug 
Control Strategy. 

* Counterdrug research and development program (R&D): designed to focus
funding on reducing the demand for and supply of illicit drugs by 
advancing the technological capabilities of federal drug control 
agencies.[Footnote 1] Demand reduction involves efforts to treat and 
prevent drug abuse; supply reduction involves efforts to reduce the 
availability, production, and distribution of illicit drugs. The R&D 
program received its first congressional appropriation in fiscal year 
1992. 

* Technology transfer program (TTP): designed to focus funding on supply
reduction by providing technology and training to state, local, and 
tribal law enforcement agencies for counterdrug missions. TTP received 
its first appropriation in fiscal year 1998. 

Funding for the two programs declined from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal 
year 2008. (See appendix I for funding figures by fiscal year.) 

* For R&D, funding declined from nearly $22 million in fiscal year 2003 
to $1 million in fiscal year 2008. 

* For TTP, funding declined from nearly $26 million in fiscal year 2003 
to $0 in fiscal year 2008. 

CTAC has undergone several changes in recent years. 

* In November 2006, the ONDCP Director appointed a new Chief Scientist 
to serve as director of CTAC,[Footnote 2] the center was reorganized, 
and the ONDCP Director changed the focus of the R&D program to more 
closely align it with the National Drug Control Strategy. 

* In March 2007, CTAC replaced its primary contracting agent, the Armyís
Electronic Proving Grounds (EPG), with the Navyís Space and Naval 
Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR). 

- By statute, the ONDCP Director does not have authority to award 
contracts and manage individual projects or other operational 
activities.[Footnote 3] Instead, CTAC must employ contracting agents to 
initiate the contracting process and manage individual contracts and 
projects. Therefore, after CTAC receives an appropriation from 
Congress, it transfers funds to its contracting agent who, in turn, 
obligates and expends the funds. 

ONDCPís Director makes the final determination about which CTAC R&D 
project concepts to fund. Project concepts are proposals developed by 
CTAC staff for the ONDCP Directorís consideration in making R&D funding 
decisions. Project concepts are to be funded in accordance with (1) the 
goals of the Presidentís National Drug Control Strategy, and (2) 
ONDCPís operational priorities. Based on information provided to the 
ONDCP Director about the findings of R&D projects, the Director also 
determines which projects should form the basis for policy or program 
direction. 

In Senate Report 110-129, accompanying the 2008 Financial Services and 
General Government Appropriations Bill, H.R. 2829, 110th Cong. (2007), 
the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed concern about ONDCPís 
management of grants and its organization. The Senate Report directed 
GAO to review ONDCPís grants management systems and other funding 
systems, emphasizing the criteria and methodology used to award and 
distribute grant funds. In consultation with congressional staff, this 
report focuses on issues pertaining to CTACís use of funds since fiscal 
year 2003, the ONDCP Directorís approach to funding decisions for
CTACís R&D program, CTACís measures of performance, and CTACís 
reorganization in 2007. 

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Objectives: 

1. Since fiscal year 2003, how has CTAC allocated funds for counterdrug
efforts, and how were congressional appropriations for CTACís R&D and
TTP programs expended? 

2. To what extent has the ONDCP Directorís approach to making funding
decisions regarding CTACís R&D program been consistent with internal
control standards? 

3. How, if at all, does ONDCP assess the results of CTACís programmatic
efforts? 

4. What were ONDCPís reasons for reorganizing CTAC in 2007, and what
was the sequence of events relating to the reorganization? 

To determine how CTAC has allocated funds for counterdrug efforts, and 
how CTAC appropriations were expended, we: 

* analyzed memorandums of agreement and CTAC interagency agreements 
that documented the funds CTAC transferred to its contracting agents and
how the funds were to be allocated during fiscal years 2003 to 2008. We
also reviewed amended CTAC interagency agreements and other documents 
concerning funds the contracting agents returned to CTAC during that 
period, and the receipts for those funds. Based on our review, we 
believe the information on the transfer and return of CTACís funds to be
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our work; 

* interviewed current CTAC officials and two former directors of CTAC to
obtain their perspectives on program operations, and the funding and
expenditure decisions made during their tenure; 

* interviewed EPG and SPAWAR staff responsible for managing the CTAC
contract in order to learn about their contract management procedures, 
and obtain information about their expenditure of CTAC funds; and; 

* interviewed the chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of
Policeís Investigative Operation Committee, to discuss views concerning
the impact of losing TTP training and equipment on local law enforcement
organizations. 

To determine the extent to which the ONDCP Directorís approach to making
funding decisions for CTACís R&D program were consistent with internal
control standards, we: 

* reviewed applicable laws and regulations and CTAC interagency 
agreements outlining the operational and financial relationship between
CTAC and its contracting agents; 

* compared available information on how the ONDCP Director made R&D
funding decisions for fiscal year 2003 through 2008 with criteria in 
GAOís Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government; 
[Footnote 4] and; 

* interviewed CTAC officials to determine the procedures CTAC and its
contracting agents used to identify, prioritize, select, and award 
contracts and grants for CTACís programs. 

To determine how ONDCP assesses the results of CTACís programmatic
efforts, we: 

* reviewed CTACís performance measures, goals, and targets for fiscal 
year 2008; 

* reviewed GAO criteria on key attributes of successful performance
measures[Footnote 5] and relevant sections of the Government 
Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA);[Footnote 6] and; 

* interviewed cognizant ONDCP and CTAC officials. 

To determine ONDCPís reasons for reorganizing CTAC in 2007 and the
sequence of events relating to the reorganization, we: 

* reviewed relevant statutes and correspondence between ONDCP and
congressional staff regarding the agencyís rationale and timetable for 
the CTAC reorganization; and; 

* interviewed cognizant ONDCP and CTAC officials. 

We conducted this performance audit from April 2008 to March 2009 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those
standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Summary: 

Since fiscal year 2003, CTAC has allocated funds to a variety of demand 
and supply reduction efforts by transferring appropriated funds to its 
contracting agents; but, CTAC officials lacked confidence in the 
information on expenditures provided by EPG, prompting CTAC to replace 
EPG with SPAWAR as its primary contracting agent in March 2007. For its 
R&D program, CTACís emphasis was on funding demand reduction efforts 
during fiscal years 2003 to 2005, and supply reduction efforts during 
fiscal years 2006 and 2007. CTACís contracting agent did not obligate 
$17.8 million (about 20 percent) of CTACís fiscal year 2004 through 
2008 R&D appropriations to specific projects, and returned these funds
to CTAC. With respect to TTP, CTAC transferred all of its TTP 
appropriations since fiscal year 2003 to contracting agents, and CTAC 
was in the process of phasing out the program in October 2008, due to 
lack of funding. 

The ONDCP Directorís approach to making R&D funding decisions is not
documented and, therefore, not fully consistent with internal control 
standards. Although the ONDCP Director is not required to document his 
rationale for selecting particular R&D project concepts for funding, 
the absence of information on what factors he considered when making 
particular decisions, and how he determined that certain R&D project 
concepts should be funded and others not, makes it difficult to know if 
ONDCP has funded the counterdrug communityís highest priority research
and technology needs. 

CTAC established output and outcome performance measures to assess
achievement of its R&D goals,[Footnote 7] and both measures are 
generally consistent with attributes that characterize successful 
performance measures. However, CTAC has not documented the methodology 
it uses to calculate the outcome of its R&D program. As a result, it is 
not clear to stakeholders that the measure of program outcomeó 
percentage of research projects that contribute to policy or program 
directionóis limited to R&D projects that contributed to the ONDCP 
Directorís decision to issue policy or provide program direction to 
national drug control agencies and also received appropriated funds 
during the same fiscal year. CTAC officials stated they are working 
with the Office of Management and Budget to address this issue. 

ONDCPís stated reason for reorganizing CTAC in 2007 was to strengthen
CTACís research capabilities. ONDCPís 2006 appropriations act, Pub. L. 
No. 109-115, contained a general prohibition on agencies, including 
ONDCP, from using funds to reorganize different from the budget 
justifications submitted to the Committees on Appropriations or from 
other specified documentation, unless prior approval was received from 
the Committees on Appropriations. This restriction continued into 
fiscal year 2007 through a series of continuing appropriations 
resolutions. On December 1, 2006, ONDCP notified the Appropriations 
Committees of its plans to reorganize; however, committee staff in a 
number of correspondences indicated that ONDCP should wait on its
reorganization plans. ONDCP proceeded with the reorganization, effective
January 22, 2007. 

We are recommending that the ONDCP Director identify the role that 
different factors played in funding decisions, and document the basis 
for selecting specific R&D project concepts for funding, including the 
rationale for selecting certain project concepts over others. ONDCP 
agreed with the findings and recommendation in this report and stated 
that identifying and documenting the directorís decision making process 
should promote greater transparency in funding decisions and 
accountability for the best use of R&D funds. 

Objective 1- CTACís Use of Funds for R&D: 

Since fiscal year 2003, CTAC has allocated funds to a variety of demand 
and supply reduction efforts by transferring $181.8 million in 
appropriated R&D and TTP funds to its contracting agents. But CTAC 
officials were uncertain how much money its agent, EPG, had expended 
during fiscal years 2003 to 2006 because the officials said they lacked 
confidence in the accuracy of EPGís financial information and, 
therefore, replaced EPG with SPAWAR. 

Emphasis in R&D funding changed from demand reduction (in fiscal years 
2003 to 2005) to supply reduction in fiscal years 2006 to 2007. 

* Of a total of $56.5 million in appropriations during fiscal years 
2003 to 2005, CTAC transferred nearly $38.8 million, or 69 percent, for 
demand reduction, and about $8.4 million for supply reduction efforts. 
The remainderó$9.2 million[Footnote 8]ówas transferred for both demand 
and supply reduction efforts. The primary emphasis in demand reduction 
involved reimbursing research facilities for purchases of brain imaging 
systems. Projects related to supply reduction included the development 
of body-worn surveillance receivers for law enforcement. 

Of a total of $23.9 million in appropriations during fiscal years 2006 
and 2007, CTAC transferred about $11.5 million, or 48 percent, for 
supply reduction, and about $4.0 million for demand reduction efforts. 
The remainderó$8.4 millionówas transferred for both demand and supply 
reduction efforts. In 2006, CTAC reported that it refocused the R&D 
program to fund projects that it believed aligned more closely with the 
goals of the National Drug Control Strategy. 

* In fiscal year 2007, CTAC discontinued funding imaging equipment as a
result of, among other things, a determination by an external technology
review committee that drug abuse researchers no longer had a need for
new imaging systems. CTAC began funding projects to (1) test the
feasibility of adding a biomeasure, such as hair or urinalysis, to 
validate self-reported drug use (demand reduction); and (2) develop 
license plate reader technology for law enforcement (supply reduction); 
among others. 

Although CTAC officials knew how much money they transferred to the
contracting agents, they lacked confidence in EPGís expenditure 
information, prompting CTAC to replace EPG with SPAWAR as its primary 
contracting agent. This meant that for the period of our study, CTAC 
was not certain of how much money EPG spent on CTAC contracts during 
fiscal years 2003 through 2006. In contrast, CTAC officials said they 
were confident in the financial information of SPAWAR, which replaced 
EPG as the primary contracting agent in March 2007. 

A 2004 CTAC internal review and a 2005 ONDCP-initiated independent 
review of EPG by the management consulting firm, Deloitte, identified 
financial and reporting risks at EPG. These included EPG not providing 
detailed financial information to CTAC regarding the use of program 
funds and EPG not following CTACís guidance for administering funds. 
According to CTAC officials, EPG did not comply with recommendations 
for improvement and did not have data systems capable of producing the 
increasingly detailed financial information that CTAC needed. EPGís 
Deputy Program Director, who had managed the CTAC contract, told us 
that EPGís level of support was not what CTAC wanted. 

* CTAC officials stated that due to their lack of confidence in EPG, 
they did not transfer any funds to EPG during the first half of fiscal 
year 2007, a period during which EPG was still CTACís primary 
contracting agent. They said they transferred all fiscal year 2007 
funds to the new contracting agent, SPAWAR. 

In replacing EPG with SPAWAR, CTAC took steps to monitor SPAWARís
expenditures through a detailed project status report; holding weekly
teleconferences; and meeting monthly to discuss the status of each R&D
project and resolve issues. 

$18.8 million in R&D funds from fiscal years 2004 through 2008 were 
returned to or retained by CTAC. 

* Contracting agents returned $17.8 million in transferred but 
unobligated funds. 

- CTAC officials said that, largely because CTACís fiscal year 2008
appropriation had declined to $1.0 million, EPG and SPAWAR returned
unobligated funds from fiscal years 2004 through 2007. 

- According to CTAC officials, reasons why funds had not been obligated 
[Footnote 9] during fiscal years 2004 through 2007 included: (1) 
changes in CTACís R&D priorities and (2) organizational changes within 
CTAC. CTAC officials said an example of a project where funds were not 
obligated is a $5 million 2006 R&D initiative intended to promote 
understanding of how genetics contributes to the brainís response to 
drug abuse. They said funds were not obligated for this initiative 
because, among other things, the contracting agent had difficulty 
identifying potential contractors with requisite expertise, CTAC was 
transitioning between contracting agents, and CTACís appropriation had 
been reduced. 

* CTAC did not transfer any of its $1.0 million fiscal year 2008 
appropriation to the contracting agent. As of December 2008, it 
continued to retain these funds. 

* Congress limited CTACís fiscal year 2008 appropriation to $1.0 
million. The Senate Appropriations Committee indicated that CTAC had 
substantial unused R&D funds from prior fiscal years. CTAC did not 
transfer the $1.0 million because the project it intended to fund was 
an ongoing, multiphase project that was behind schedule. 

CTAC reallocated about half of the $18.8 million in returned and 
retained funds to new and existing R&D projects. 

* As of December 2008, CTAC had transferred to its contracting agents, 
and the agents had obligated or already expended, about $10.1 million, 
or 54 percent, of the $18.8 million in R&D funds that were returned or 
retained.[Footnote 10] 

* As of December 2008, CTAC had not transferred to its contracting 
agents the remaining $8.7 million, or 46 percent, in returned or 
retained R&D funds. However, according to CTAC officials, ONDCP had 
developed or was developing plans for these funds. 

- The then-ONDCP Director approved allocating $7.0 million for several
projects, including license plate reader technology for law 
enforcement, one of CTACís ongoing priority projects. 

- CTAC was developing recommendations on how to spend the remaining
$1.7 million. 

As with the R&D program, CTAC had information on the amount of funds it
transferred to its contracting agent for TTP, but officials were not 
confident in the accuracy of the agentís financial information related 
to expenditures for fiscal years 2003 through 2006. 

* CTAC transferred all of its $99.3 million in TTP appropriations since 
fiscal year 2003 to EPG and SPAWAR to provide law enforcement-related 
equipment and training to state, local, and tribal law enforcement 
agencies. 

TTP provided equipment and training for counterdrug operations at no 
cost to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. In fiscal 
year 2007, the following categories of equipment and funding were 
available for TTP. 

Table 1: TTP Equipment and Funding Expenditures in Fiscal Year 2007[A]: 

Equipment: Information management systems; 
Description: Analytic software systems for telephone surveillance, 
intelligence, and case management applications; 
Funding expenditures: $1.3 million. 

Equipment: Intercept systems; 
Description: Systems for law enforcement agencies to legally intercept, 
record, and play back telephone and wireless telephone communications; 
Funding expenditures: $3.0 million. 

Equipment: Tracking systems; 
Description: Real-time and data-logging covert vehicle tracking systems 
that use Global Positioning Systems; 
Funding expenditures: $1.0 million. 

Equipment: Audio/video surveillance devices; 
Description: Covert transmitter and receiver systems for undercover 
operations; 
Funding expenditures: $2.2 million. 

Equipment: Digital evidence analysis systems; 
Description: Modular toolkits for digital forensic examination from 
acquisition to analysis and reporting; 
Funding expenditures: $1.3 million. 

Source: CTAC. 

[A] CTAC also allocated S576,000 and $600,000, respectively, to 
administrative and training costs. 

[End of table] 

ONDCP officials said they did not request an appropriation for TTP for 
fiscal years 2007 and 2008 because of competing budgetary priorities. 
Congress nonetheless appropriated $10 million for TTP for fiscal year 
2007, but did not appropriate any new funds for fiscal year 2008. 

CTAC officials said they have begun to phase out TTP because of a lack 
of funding, and it would take time and resources to reestablish it. 
CTAC officials estimated it would take at least 1 year to reestablish 
the program, and an annual funding level of $10 million to maintain a 
technology transfer program with a national scope. 

A law enforcement organization expressed concern about discontinued TTP 
funding. According to the Chairman of the International Association of 
Chiefs of Policeís Investigative Operation Committee, the loss of TTP 
is significant for local law enforcement. He noted that (1) resources 
are not available at the local level to purchase the equipment ONDCP 
provided, and (2) local law enforcement cannot replace the expertise of 
CTAC staff in understanding trends and changes in emerging 
technologies. 

[End of Objective 1] 

Objective 2- Funding Decisions: 

The ONDCP Directorís approach to making R&D funding decisions is not
documented and, therefore, not fully consistent with internal control 
standards.[Footnote 11] 

Following input from CTAC, the ONDCP Director determines which R&D 
project concepts to fund. 

* The Chief Scientist and CTAC officials said they develop an initial 
list of R&D funding priorities based on potential projectsí (1) 
alignment with the National Drug Control Strategyís priorities and 
ONDCPís operational priorities (see appendix II), (2) estimated 
implementation costs, (3) level of technical risk, (4) scope, (5) 
potential for multiple agencies to benefit from the research, and (6)
amount of funds available.[Footnote 12] 

* According to CTAC officials, the ONDCP Director, in accordance with 
his statutory authority, can accept or modify CTACís list of funding 
priorities and associated funding levels. They noted that there have 
been instances where the Director has modified CTACís list of funding 
priorities, but did not have information on its frequency. 

The ONDCP Director may determine the ranking and allocation of funds 
for project concepts and is not required to document his rationale for 
selecting particular project concepts. 

* In any given year, according to CTAC officials, there are many more 
project concepts than can be funded. Given the broad priorities of the 
National Drug Control Strategy and ONDCP, virtually all of the project 
concepts being considered by the ONDCP Director may be consistent with 
these priorities. 

* According to CTAC officials, the ONDCP Director has based his R&D 
funding decision on factors such as the feasibility of project success, 
project costs, and potential widespread applicability of the results. 
However, there is no documentation on whether and how he used these 
and/or other factors in arriving at funding decisions, how he weighted 
the various factors, and what his rationale was for funding certain 
project concepts over others. As a result, there is a lack of 
transparency in how funding decisions have been made, and it is 
difficult to know whether the project concepts the ONDCP Director 
selected for funding met the highest priority research and technology 
needs of the counterdrug community. 

* GAOís internal control standards state that all transactions and 
other significant events need to be clearly documented, and the 
documentation should be readily available for examination. 

* CTAC officials noted that the ONDCP Director has not documented his 
funding decisions because the law does not require it. They agreed that 
such information could be developed and said that it could potentially 
be included in the spending plan ONDCP submits to Congress. 

[End of Objective 2] 

Objective 3- CTAC Performance: 

CTAC established output and outcome performance measures to assess
achievement of its R&D goals, and both measures are generally 
consistent with attributes that characterize successful performance 
measures. However, CTACís methodology for calculating its R&D program 
outcome is not documented and, therefore, not clear to stakeholders. 

In accordance with GPRA,[Footnote 13] CTAC established goals, 
objectives, and outcomes to show how projects can be expected to 
contribute to intended results, and measures of performance for its R&D 
program output and outcome. 

* The goals, objectives, and outcomes/impacts for CTACís R&D program 
are as follows: 

- Program goals: Advance and improve demand and supply reduction
research and development to enhance understanding of and counteractions
against illegal drug markets. 

- Program objectives: Conduct research projects to broaden 
understanding of the demand and supply side of illegal drug markets and 
develop technology to assist demand and supply reduction efforts. 

- Outcomes/program impacts: Improved understanding of the demand and
supply side of illegal drug markets and improved demand and supply
reduction efforts. 

CTACís R&D output and outcome performance measures are as follows: 

* Output measure: 

- CTAC definition: number of research projects initiated to expand
understanding of the demand- and supply-side of illegal drug markets. 
[Footnote 14] 

- Fiscal year target: amount of anticipated CTAC R&D appropriation
divided by the approximate cost per R&D project in prior fiscal years. 

* Outcome measure: 

- CTAC definition: Percentage of research projects that form the basis 
of or contribute to policy or program direction. 

- According to CTAC officials, the ONDCP Director (1) receives 
contractor- and CTAC-prepared information on the findings of R&D 
projects, (2) determines whether the findings are compelling and can 
help address a counterdrug need, and (3) decides whether to use the 
available information as a basis for issuing policy or program 
direction to national drug control agencies. 

- Fiscal year target: This is based on CTAC officialsí judgment of the
percentage of R&D projects that will generate a finding that contributes
to policy or program direction. According to CTAC officials, a 50 
percent target is reasonable because not all R&D projects will produce 
positive findings that can form the basis of or contribute to policy or 
program direction. 

Table 2: Fiscal Years 2007-2009 Performance Measures and Targets for 
CTAC's R&D Program: 

Performance measure: 1: Output measure-Number of research projects 
initiated to expand understanding of the demand- and supply-side of 
illegal drug markets.
Fiscal year 2007, Target: 5; 
Fiscal year 2007, Actual: 15; 
Fiscal year 2008, Target: 2; 
Fiscal year 2008, Actual: 1{a}; 
Fiscal year 2009, Target: 7. 

Performance measure: 2: Outcome measure-Percentage of research projects 
that form the basis of or contribute to policy or program direction 
(new fiscal year 2008 measure); 
Fiscal year 2007, Target: No outcome measure established; 
Fiscal year 2007, Actual: No outcome measure established; 
Fiscal year 2008, Target: 50%; 
Fiscal year 2008, Actual: To be reported; 
Fiscal year 2009, Target: 50%. 

Source: ONDCP. 

[A] In fiscal year 2008, CTAC initiated one R&D project with an 
appropriation of $1.0 million. 

[End of table] 

We have previously reported that successful performance measures have 
the following key attributes:[Footnote 15] 

1. Linkage with the goals and mission of the agency; 

2. Clarity in how it is stated, named, and defined; and consistent with 
the methodology used to calculate it; 

3. Objectivity in being reasonably free from significant bias or 
manipulation; 

4. Reliability in producing the same result under similar conditions; 

5. Measurable target in having a numerical goal; 

6. Core programs activities in covering the activities that an entity 
is expected to perform to support the intent of the program. 

CTACís output measure (number of research projects initiated) is 
generally consistent with the six key attributes of successful 
performance measures. 

CTACís outcome measure is consistent with five of the six key 
attributes of successful performance measures. The measure: 

* is linked to agency goals and mission;
* has a measurable target;
* is objective;
* is reliable; and; 
* supports core program activities. 

However, CTACís methodology for calculating the outcome of its R&D 
program is not clear to stakeholders. 

* In accordance with OMB requirements, R&D projects that do not receive
funding during the same fiscal year in which they contributed to policy 
or program direction are not included in the calculation. Instead, the 
outcome measure is based only on projects that contributed to policy or 
program direction and also received funding during the same fiscal 
year. OMBís reporting requirements do not provide for agencies to 
report on R&D projects that did not receive funding during the fiscal 
year. However, CTAC has not documented its methodology for calculating 
the outcome of its R&D program and, therefore, it is not clear to 
stakeholders that CTAC excludes such projects from its performance 
calculation. CTAC officials told us they are currently working with OMB 
to address this issue. 

CTACís performance measures provide information on its R&D program 
activities and the effect of R&D findings on the ONDCP Directorís 
policy and program decisions. They do not provide information on the 
effectiveness of CTACís R&D projects in reducing the demand for and 
supply of drugs. We have previously reported that performance 
measurement in the area of drug control is difficult, in part because 
it is difficult to isolate the full impact and effectiveness of a 
single program without considering the role of other drug control 
efforts.[Footnote 16] Similarly, CTAC officials noted that determining 
R&D projectsí contribution to the effectiveness of policies or programs 
in reducing the supply and demand of drugs would be very difficult given
the great number of intervening variables that would have to be taken 
into consideration. 

[End of Objective 3] 

Objective 4- CTAC Reorganization: 

CTAC was reorganized in January 2007, following a 7-week period during 
which ONDCP and the Appropriations Committees exchanged a number of
correspondences about ONDCPís proposed reorganization which, according 
to ONDCP, was intended to strengthen CTACís research capabilities. 

Reorganization activities: 

* The general provisions of the 2006 appropriations act for ONDCP, Pub. 
L. No. 109-115, prohibited agencies, including ONDCP, from using funds 
appropriated for obligation or expenditure to reorganize the agency 
different from the budget justifications submitted to the Committees on 
Appropriations or from other specified documentation, unless prior 
approval was received from the Committees on Appropriations. This 
restriction continued into fiscal year 2007 through a series of 
continuing appropriations resolutions. 

* ONDCP advised Congress on December 1, 2006, that it intended to 
reorganize CTAC. The stated purpose was to ensure a more integrated and 
coordinated approach to research; and improve oversight of and support 
for the ONDCP Directorís research priorities. 

* Prior to the reorganization, Appropriations Committee staff indicated 
in a number of correspondences that ONDCP should not proceed with its
reorganization plans. 

* ONDCP finalized the CTAC reorganization on January 22, 2007. (See 
appendix V for a description of the reorganization timeline.) 

* ONDCP transferred its policy research and performance measures
development functions into CTAC, thereby placing them under the 
authority of the Chief Scientist.[Footnote 17] 

* Eight full time equivalent positions were reassigned from ONDCPís 
Office of Planning and Budget, which housed the policy research and 
performance measure functions, into CTAC. 

* The Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2007, Pub. L. No. 
110-5, states that the structure of any of the offices or components 
within the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall remain as they 
were on October 1, 2006. CTAC officials told us they did not return to 
the previous structure because, among other things, the CTAC 
reorganization had taken place on January 22, 2007, prior to the 
legislation being enacted. 

[End of Objective 4] 

Conclusions: 

The requirements for the ONDCP Directorís R&D funding determinations 
are broadly stated, making it possible for a wide variety of potential 
demand and supply reduction project concepts to be eligible for 
funding. Clarification of how various factors were considered in 
funding decisions, including the Directorís rationale for choosing 
among project concepts, would facilitate greater accountability for
ONDCPís use of funds and provide greater insight into whether CTAC has 
focused its efforts on the counterdrug communityís highest priority 
research and technology needs. 

Recommendation: 

To promote greater transparency in funding decisions and increased 
accountability for the best use of CTACís R&D funds, we recommend that 
the ONDCP Director identify the role that different factors played in 
funding decisions, and document the basis for selecting specific R&D 
project concepts for funding, including the rationale for selecting 
certain project concepts over others. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy (ONDCP) for review and comment. 

On March 6, 2009, we received written comments from ONDCP on the draft 
report, which are reproduced in appendix VI. ONDCP concurred with the 
findings and recommendation in our report and agreed that identifying 
selection criteria and documenting the directorís decisions should 
promote transparency in funding decisions and greater accountability 
for the best use of CTACís R&D funds. 

Additionally, we received technical comments from ONDCP, which were
incorporated where appropriate. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I- CTAC Funding: 

Table 3: Funding Declined from Fiscal Year 2003 to Fiscal Year 2008: 

Fiscal year: 2003; 
R&D budget request: $18.0 million; 
R&D funding: $20.7[A] million; 
TTP funding request: $22.0 million; 
TTP funding: $25.8 million. 

Fiscal year: 2004; 
R&D budget request: $18.0 million; 
R&D funding: $17.9 million; 
TTP funding request: $22.0 million; 
TTP funding: $23.9 million. 

Fiscal year: 2005; 
R&D budget request: $18.0 million; 
R&D funding: $17.9 million; 
TTP funding request: $22.0 million; 
TTP funding: $23.8 million. 

Fiscal year: 2006; 
R&D budget request: $10.0 million; 
R&D funding: $13.9 million; 
TTP funding request: $20.0 million; 
TTP funding: $15.8 million. 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
R&D budget request: $9.6 million; 
R&D funding: $10.0 million; 
TTP funding request: 0; 
TTP funding: $10.0 million. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
R&D budget request: $5.0 million; 
R&D funding: $1.0 million; 
TTP funding request: 0; 
TTP funding: 0. 

Fiscal year: Total; 
R&D budget request: $78.6 million; 
R&D funding: $82.5[B] million; 
TTP funding request: $86.0 million; 
TTP funding: $99.3 million. 

Source: CTAC. 

[A] CTAC's original appropriation was $21.86 million. CTAC transferred 
$1.150 million of this appropriation to ONDCP's High Intensity Drug 
Trafficking Areas program in fiscal year 2003. 

[B] Does not sum to $82.5 million due to rounding. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Strategy and ONDCP Priorities: 

National Drug Control Strategyís priorities: 

1. Stopping Drug Use Before It Starts: education and community action; 

2. Healing Americaís Users: getting treatment resources where they are 
needed; and; 

3. Disrupting the Market: attacking the economic base of drug trade. 

ONDCPís operational priorities: 

1. Screen, intervene, and treat; 

2. Student drug testing; 

3. Marijuana; 

4. Prescription drug safety/methamphetamine; 

5. International partnerships; and; 

6. Southwest border flow. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: R&D and TTP Funding Process: 

R&D funding process: 

1. Identify needs: The ONDCP Director and CTAC officials participate in
interagency working groups and forums to identify research and 
technology needs within the counterdrug community. 

2. Rank priorities: CTAC generally solicits project concepts from 
ONDCPís program offices and federal drug control agencies. CTAC 
officials said they develop an initial list of funding priorities based 
on potential projectsí (1) alignment with the National Drug Control 
Strategyís priorities and ONDCPís operational priorities, (2) estimated 
implementation costs, (3) level of technical risk, (4) scope, (5) 
potential for multiple agencies to benefit from the research, and (6) 
amount of funds available. CTAC officials said they submit their 
initial prioritized list of R&D project concepts to the ONDCP Director 
and discuss those priorities as necessary. 

3. Select project concepts: According to CTAC officials, the ONDCP 
Director can accept or modify CTACís priority rankings and recommended 
funding levels for project concepts. The ONDCP Director submits a 
spending plan to Congress that details the amount of funds to be used 
for new and existing project concepts. The spending plan does not 
detail the factors the ONDCP Director considered in making the 
selection, or the rationale for deciding to fund certain project 
concepts over others. 

TTP funding process:[Footnote 18] 

1. Identified and prioritized needs: CTAC officials met with senior law 
enforcement experts to ascertain their priorities for the equipment to 
be made available by the TTP program. 

2. Selected TTP equipment: The contracting agent issued a competitive
solicitation for proposals. Senior law enforcement experts and the 
contracting agent reviewed potential contractorsí proposals, and 
determined whether to list the equipment in an online catalogue. 
[Footnote 19] The contracting agent selected the contractor, negotiated 
the terms of the contract, listed the equipment in the online 
catalogue, and managed the contract. 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: R&D and TTP Award Process: 

R&D award process: 

1. Transfer funds to contracting agent: Funds are transferred through 
interagency agreements between ONDCP and its contracting agent that 
specify the amount of funding for each R&D project concept. 

2. Solicit proposals: The contracting agent uses (1) in-house resources 
to fulfill the requirements of the contract, or (2) Broad Agency 
Announcements or Requests for Proposals to solicit competitive 
proposals from potential contractors, such as industry, academia, and 
national laboratories. 

3. Review proposals: Proposals undergo a technical peer review by 
subject matter experts, which can include contractor technical staff, 
representatives from stakeholder agencies, and CTAC officials. 

4. Select contractor to carry out R&D project: The contracting agent 
selects the contractor, negotiates the terms of the contract, and 
manages the contract. 

Process for selecting TTP recipients:[Footnote 20] 

1. Transferred funds to contracting agent: Funds were transferred 
through interagency agreements that specified the amount of funds to be 
allocated to the program. 

2. Reviewed applications: The contracting agent posted equipment 
available in the TTP catalogue[Footnote 21] on Web site. State, local, 
and tribal law enforcement agencies submitted applications to the 
contracting agent for the equipment listed in the TTP catalogue. 

3. Selected recipients: CTAC officials and the contracting agent 
reviewed applications and selected recipients of the equipment after 
competitively scoring and ranking applications. 

[End of section] 

Appendix V: Reorganization Timeline: 

November 30, 2005: The general provisions of the Transportation, 
Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of 
Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006, Pub. L. 
No. 109-115, ß 710, 119 Stat. 2396, 2491-92 prohibits the funds 
provided in the Act, provided by previous appropriations Acts to the 
agencies or entities funded in the Act that remain available for 
obligation or expenditure in fiscal year 2006, or provided from any 
accounts in the Treasury derived by the collection of fees and 
available to agencies funded by this Act, from being available for 
obligation or expenditure through a reprogramming of funds that, among 
other things, creates, reorganizes, or restructures a branch, division, 
office, bureau, board, commission, agency, administration, or 
department different from the budget justifications submitted to the 
Committees on Appropriations or the table accompanying the statement of 
the managers accompanying this Act, whichever is more detailed, unless 
prior approval is received from the House and Senate Committees on 
Appropriations. This restriction continued into fiscal year 2007 
through a series of continuing appropriations resolutions. 

December 1, 2006: ONDCP sent letters to House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations notifying them of the agencyís intent to reorganize CTAC 
and the Office of Planning and Budget, citing Public Law 109-115. 

December 20, 2006: Via e-mail, ONDCPís Office of Legislative Affairs 
requested a meeting with Senate Committee on Appropriations staff to 
discuss the CTAC reorganization. Staff from the Senate Committee on 
Appropriations informed ONDCP that the committee was unavailable and 
the earliest meeting time would be January 2007. 

January 3, 2007: Via e-mail, ONDCPís Office of Legislative Affairs 
requested a meeting with Senate Committee on Appropriations staff to 
discuss CTACís reorganization. 

January 4, 2007: Via e-mail, staff from the Senate Committee on 
Appropriations informed ONDCP that the committee was restructuring and 
to wait on implementing the reorganization plans. 

January 9, 2007: Via e-mail, ONDCPís Office of Legislative Affairs 
offered to provide written explanation of the CTAC reorganization to 
the Senate Committee on Appropriations. 

January 10, 2007: Via e-mail, staff from the Senate Committee on 
Appropriations advised ONDCP that the committeeís priority was working 
on the continuing resolution and to wait on implementation of the 
reorganization plan. 

January 17, 2007: ONDCPís Office of Legislative Affairs submitted CTACís
reorganization plan to the Senate Committee on Appropriations and began 
the process of moving staff based on the reorganization plan. 

January 22, 2007: The ONDCP Director instructed that 8 full time 
equivalent positions be reassigned from the Office of Planning and 
Budget to CTAC. Personnel actions for reassigned staff are dated 
January 22, 2007. 

February 15, 2007:The Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 
2007, Pub. L. No. 110-5, 121 Stat. 8, 55-56, states that the structure 
of any of the offices or components within the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy shall remain as they were on October 1, 2006, and none 
of the funds appropriated may be used to implement a reorganization of 
offices without the explicit approval of the House and Senate 
Appropriations Committees. CTAC officials told us they did not return 
to the previous structure because, among other things, the CTAC 
reorganization had taken place on January 22, 2007 prior to the 
legislation being enacted. 

[End of section] 

Appendix VI: Comments from the Office of National Drug Control Policy: 

Executive Office Of The President: 
Office Of National Drug Control Policy: 
Washington, D.C. 20503: 

March 6, 2009: 

Eileen R. Larence: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
Room 6153, 441 G. Street, NW: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Dear Ms. Larence: 

We have reviewed the draft report of ONDCP's Counterdrug Technology 
Assessment Center prepared by the Government Accountability Office 
(GAO). We appreciate the factual tone of the report and find it to be a 
balanced and accurate portrayal of this important program. 

ONDCP believes that recent enhancements to the program have 
strengthened it significantly. Starting in FY 2006, ONDCP implemented 
several changes to improve the transparency and accountability of the 
CTAC program, including applying a merit-based competitive grant 
process to the Technology Transfer Program, as well as soliciting R&D 
concepts from ONDCP program components and other federal drug control 
agencies, and requiring that such concepts be supportive of the 
National Drug Control Strategy and/or ONDCP's operational priorities. 
Additionally, following an independent financial review of the program, 
initiated by ONDCP, we changed CTAC's primary contracting agent and 
required improved financial reporting accountability. 

We concur with GAO's recommendation to identify selection criteria and 
document the Director's decision process for approving R&D concepts for 
funding and agree that this process should promote greater transparency 
in funding decisions and accountability for the best use of CTAC's R&D 
funds. 

We appreciate GAO's efforts in reviewing the CTAC program and look 
forward to continued engagement with GAO as we implement the 
recommendation and move forward with this essential program. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Edward H. Jurith: 
Acting Director: 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Federal drug control agencies include the National Institute on 
Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Administration, among others. 

[2] Pursuant to the Office of National Drug Control Policy 
Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-469, ß 401, 120 Stat. 
3502, 3525-27 (Dec. 29, 2006), there shall be at the head of the Center 
the Chief Scientist, who shall be appointed by the ONDCP Director from
among individuals qualified and distinguished in the area of science, 
medicine, engineering, or technology. Codified at 21 U.S.C. ß
1707(b). 

[3] 21 U.S.C. ß 1707(d). 

[4] GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1] 
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 1999). 

[5] GAO, Tax Administration: IRS Needs to Further Refine Its Tax Filing 
Season Performance Measures, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-143] (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 22, 
2002). 

[6] Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993). The Government 
Performance and Results Act of 1993 was intended to address several 
broad purposes, including strengthening the confidence of the American 
people in their government; improving federal program effectiveness,
accountability, and service delivery; and enhancing congressional 
decision making by providing more objective information on program
performance. 

[7] An output measure describes the level of activity to be provided 
over a period of time, including a description of the characteristics 
(e.g., timeliness) established as standards for the activity. Outcome 
measures describe the intended results of carrying out a program or
activity. They define an event or condition that is external to the 
program or activity and that is of direct importance to the intended
beneficiaries and/or the public. 

[8] The figures do not sum to $56.5 million due to rounding. 

[9] Among other things, an obligation is a legal liability for the 
government to pay for goods and services ordered or received. See GAO,
Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process, GAO-05-734SP 
(Washington, D.C.: Sep. 2005). 

[10] In some instances, rather than transferring funds to its primary 
contracting agent, CTAC transferred funds directly to federal drug 
control agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, to 
manage R&D projects. 

[11] There are five internal control standards: control environment, 
risk assessment, control activities, information and communications, and
monitoring. We determined that the ONDCP Directorís approach to R&D 
funding decisions was not consistent with the standard on control
activities, which requires, among other things, clear documentation of 
significant events. 

[12] Appendix III contains additional information on the R&D and TTP 
funding process; and appendix IV contains information on the process
for awarding R&D funds and selecting recipients of TTP equipment. 

[13] Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993). 

[14] Projects initiated refers to new R&D project concepts that ONDCP 
plans to allocate funding to, as documented in the fiscal year spending
plan submitted to Congress. According to CTAC officials, the term 
research projects refers to R&D project concepts. 

[15] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-143]. GAO used 
various performance management literature, including GPRA, to develop a 
set of nine specific attributes of
successful performance measures. We determined that six of the nine key 
attributes of successful performance measures were applicable to our 
study. 

[16] GAO, Drug Control: Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/T-GGD-97-97] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 1, 1997). 

[17] According to CTAC officials, policy research informs the ONDCP 
Director on drugs issues and the effectiveness of supply and demand
reduction program activities in achieving strategic goals and 
objectives. Performance measures development provides policymakers with
data and analysis to measure the performances of drug reduction 
programs and policies. 

[18] Describes process in place until fiscal year 2008, when TTP 
funding was discontinued. 

[19] CTAC officials said the catalogue ceased to be posted in fiscal 
year 2008. 

[20] Describes process in place until fiscal year 2008, when TTP 
funding was discontinued. 

[21] CTAC officials said the catalogue ceased to be posted in fiscal 
year 2008. 

[End of section] 

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