Nonproliferation:

U.S. Agencies Have Taken Some Steps, but More Effort Is Needed to Strengthen and Expand the Proliferation Security Initiative

GAO-09-43: Published: Nov 10, 2008. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 2008.

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The President announced the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) in 2003 to enhance U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In a 2006 classified report, GAO recommended that agencies establish clear PSI policies and procedures and performance indicators. In 2007, Congress enacted a law calling for the administration to expand and strengthen PSI and address GAO's prior recommendations. This report assesses (1) the extent to which the administration issued a PSI directive and submitted required PSI-related reports to Congress; (2) steps U.S. agencies have taken to establish clear PSI policies and procedures, structures, budgets, and performance indicators; and (3) U.S. agencies' efforts to increase cooperation and coordination with PSI countries and develop a strategy to resolve interdiction issues. GAO reviewed and analyzed agency documents and interviewed officials from the Departments of State (State), Defense (DOD), and other agencies with PSI responsibilitie

The administration has not issued a PSI directive that directs U.S. agencies to take actions to strengthen PSI activities, such as establishing clear PSI structures. The administration also has not submitted a required budget report to Congress, describing its funding for past and future PSI-related activities. Five months after the February 2008 mandated issuance date, the administration issued a report describing steps agencies have taken to implement the provisions called for in the law. However, this report does not fully specify the steps taken to implement GAO's previous recommendations or other provisions called for in the law. DOD has taken more steps to address the law's provisions, such as establishing clear PSI policies and procedures, than State or law enforcement agencies. However, none of the agencies has established performance indicators to measure the results of PSI activities. Consistent with internal controls, establishing clear PSI policies and procedures and indicators to measure results will help the agencies better organize their PSI activities. DOD has taken steps to clarify its PSI policies and procedures and has established a support office to improve DOD's participation in PSI exercises. However, uncertainties in DOD's policies and procedures remain about how to incorporate law enforcement agencies into PSI exercises. Even though PSI activities are increasingly focused on law enforcement issues, State and U.S. law enforcement agencies do not all have the policies, procedures, or budgets that would facilitate their participation in PSI. While State and law enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Coast Guard, have some PSI structures in place, only CBP has written PSI guidance establishing agency roles and responsibilities; other law enforcement agencies have not taken similar steps. U.S. agencies have made efforts to increase cooperation and coordination with PSI countries through multilateral PSI planning meetings, exercises, and other outreach. However, these efforts have focused mostly on the 19 other leading PSI countries that attend multilateral meetings. U.S. agencies have not built relationships in the same way with more than 70 PSI countries not invited to attend the multilateral meetings. Agency officials acknowledged that more needs to be done to directly engage these countries. In addition, State and DOD have not developed a written strategy to resolve interdiction issues, as GAO previously recommended. To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on GAO-09-43. For more information, contact Joseph A. Christoff at (202) 512-8979 or christoffj@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, State noted in a January 2009 letter to the Congressional committees of jurisdiction that the United States and other OEG countries that participate in the PSI multilateral meetings recognize the need to increase involvement and knowledge of all PSI countries. In the OEG Action List from the OEG meeting held in Miami in May 2009, the U.S. and other OEG countries committed to consider ways to involve more countries in future PSI planning meetings and agreed to increase the number of PSI activities that include PSI-endorsing countries beyond the OEG countries. In our 2012 follow-up report on PSI (GAO-12-441), we reported that 8 of the 17 countries that participated in an aircraft counter-proliferation scenario exercise and a regional PSI planning meeting hosted by Australia in September 2010 represented non-OEG countries, which represents a marked improvement over previous participation rates for non-OEG countries in PSI exercises. In addition, the 2011 U.S. interagency PSI report to Congress stated that activities for fiscal years 2012 through 2014 are explicitly designed to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange with a broad range of PSI-endorsing countries, which demonstrates that agencies have taken additional steps to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange.

    Recommendation: Since U.S. agencies have not built relationships with their counterparts from the more than 70 PSI countries who are not invited to attend multilateral PSI planning meetings to the same extent as with the 19 other leading PSI countries, DOD, in cooperation with State, should take additional steps to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange between the United States and these countries. In building such relationships, DOD and State will obviously have to work cooperatively with the 19 other leading PSI countries that attend the PSI multilateral planning meetings.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI agreed with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, an interagency group, including representatives from all agencies participating in PSI, produced two companion guidance documents, Guidance for U.S. Government Activities in Support of the Proliferation Security Initiative and Insuring the Durability of PSI: An Action Plan, that the interagency group adopted in 2010 and 2011, respectively. According to National Security Staff officials, these documents are a primary source of policies and procedures for all relevant agencies' defining PSI activities, providing guidance on interagency communication, and addressing objectives and responsibilities. For example, they establish that State has primary responsibility for diplomatic outreach activities and that DOD leads the U.S. delegation at OEG meetings. According to officials, such interagency policies and procedures also allow all U.S. agencies involved in PSI to plan activities without duplicating efforts and to properly and coherently articulate the U.S. government's vision and strategy on PSI.

    Recommendation: Since PSI activities are increasingly focused on law enforcement issues, the relevant law enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Coast Guard, should establish clear PSI policies and procedures and work toward developing performance indicators to support PSI activities, including PSI workshops, training courses, and exercises.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI agreed with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, an interagency group, including representatives from all agencies participating in PSI, produced two companion guidance documents, Guidance for U.S. Government Activities in Support of the Proliferation Security Initiative and Insuring the Durability of PSI: An Action Plan, that the interagency group adopted in 2010 and 2011, respectively. According to National Security Staff officials, these documents are a primary source of policies and procedures for all relevant agencies' defining PSI activities, providing guidance on interagency communication, and addressing objectives and responsibilities. For example, they establish that State has primary responsibility for diplomatic outreach activities and that DOD leads the U.S. delegation at OEG meetings. According to officials, such interagency policies and procedures also allow all U.S. agencies involved in PSI to plan activities without duplicating efforts and to properly and coherently articulate the U.S. government's vision and strategy on PSI.

    Recommendation: Since PSI activities are increasingly focused on law enforcement issues, the relevant law enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Coast Guard, should establish clear PSI policies and procedures and work toward developing performance indicators to support PSI activities, including PSI workshops, training courses, and exercises.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI agreed with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, an interagency group, including representatives from all agencies participating in PSI, produced two companion guidance documents, Guidance for U.S. Government Activities in Support of the Proliferation Security Initiative and Insuring the Durability of PSI: An Action Plan, that the interagency group adopted in 2010 and 2011, respectively. According to National Security Staff officials, these documents are a primary source of policies and procedures for all relevant agencies' defining PSI activities, providing guidance on interagency communication, and addressing objectives and responsibilities. For example, they establish that State has primary responsibility for diplomatic outreach activities and that DOD leads the U.S. delegation at OEG meetings. According to officials, such interagency policies and procedures also allow all U.S. agencies involved in PSI to plan activities without duplicating efforts and to properly and coherently articulate the U.S. government's vision and strategy on PSI.

    Recommendation: Since PSI activities are increasingly focused on law enforcement issues, the relevant law enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Coast Guard, should establish clear PSI policies and procedures and work toward developing performance indicators to support PSI activities, including PSI workshops, training courses, and exercises.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, State noted in a January 2009 letter to the Congressional committees of jurisdiction that the United States and other OEG countries that participate in the PSI multilateral meetings recognize the need to increase involvement and knowledge of all PSI countries. In the OEG Action List from the OEG meeting held in Miami in May 2009, the U.S. and other OEG countries committed to consider ways to involve more countries in future PSI planning meetings and agreed to increase the number of PSI activities that include PSI-endorsing countries beyond the OEG countries. In our 2012 follow-up report on PSI (GAO-12-441), we reported that 8 of the 17 countries that participated in an aircraft counter-proliferation scenario exercise and a regional PSI planning meeting hosted by Australia in September 2010 represented non-OEG countries, which represents a marked improvement over previous participation rates for non-OEG countries in PSI exercises. In addition, the 2011 U.S. interagency PSI report to Congress stated that activities for fiscal years 2012 through 2014 are explicitly designed to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange with a broad range of PSI-endorsing countries, which demonstrates that agencies have taken additional steps to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange.

    Recommendation: Since U.S. agencies have not built relationships with their counterparts from the more than 70 PSI countries who are not invited to attend multilateral PSI planning meetings to the same extent as with the 19 other leading PSI countries, DOD, in cooperation with State, should take additional steps to increase cooperation, coordination, and information exchange between the United States and these countries. In building such relationships, DOD and State will obviously have to work cooperatively with the 19 other leading PSI countries that attend the PSI multilateral planning meetings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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