International Security:

DOD and State Need to Improve Sustainment Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation for Section 1206 and 1207 Assistance Programs

GAO-10-431: Published: Apr 15, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 2010.

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In 2006, the United States created two new programs, authorized in Sections 1206 and 1207 of the Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act, to respond to the threats of global terrorism and instability. These programs have provided over $1.3 billion in military and nonmilitary aid to 62 countries and are due to expire in 2011 and 2010, respectively. The Congress mandated that GAO assess the programs. This report addresses the extent to which the programs (1) are consistent with U.S. strategic priorities, (2) are distinct from other programs, (3) address sustainment needs, and (4) incorporate monitoring and evaluation. GAO analyzed data and program documents from the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and interviewed U.S. and host country officials.

The Section 1206 and 1207 programs have generally been consistent with U.S. strategic priorities. The Section 1206 program was established to build the military capacity of foreign countries to conduct counterterrorism and stabilization operations. DOD and State have devoted 82 percent of this program's funds to address specific terrorist threats, primarily in countries the U.S. intelligence community has identified as priorities for the counterterrorism effort. The Section 1207 program was established to transfer DOD funds to State for nonmilitary assistance related to stabilization, reconstruction, and security. DOD, State, and USAID have devoted 77 percent of this program's funds to countries at significant risk of instability, mostly those the United States has identified as vulnerable to state failure. Based on agency guidelines, the Section 1206 program is generally distinct from other programs, while the Section 1207 program is not. In most cases, Section 1206 projects addressed urgent and emergent counterterrorism and stabilization priorities of combatant commanders and did so more quickly than other programs, sometimes in a year, whereas Foreign Military Financing (FMF) projects can take up to 3 years to plan. DOD and embassy officials GAO spoke to consistently explained why projects do not overlap those of FMF and other programs, although project proposals GAO reviewed did not always document these distinctions. Section 1207 projects are virtually indistinguishable from those of other foreign aid programs in their content and time frames. Furthermore, the Section 1207 program has entailed additional implementation costs and funding delays beyond those of traditional foreign assistance programs, while the 1206 program has not. The uncertain availability of resources to sustain Section 1206 projects poses risks to achieving long-term impact. Enabling nations to achieve sustainable counterterrorism capabilities is a key U.S. policy goal. The long-term viability of Section 1206 projects is threatened by (1) the limited ability or willingness of partner nations to support new capabilities, as 76 percent of Section 1206 projects are in low- or lower-middle-income countries, and (2) U.S. legal and policy restrictions on using FMF and additional Section 1206 resources for sustainment. In contrast, sustainment risks for Section 1207 projects appear minimal, because State, USAID, and DOD are not restricted from drawing on a variety of overlapping funding sources to continue them. DOD and State have incorporated little monitoring and evaluation into the Section 1206 and 1207 programs. For Section 1206 projects, the agencies have not consistently defined performance measures, and results reporting has generally been limited to anecdotal information. For Section 1207 projects, the agencies have defined performance measures and State requires quarterly reporting on project implementation. However, State has not fully analyzed this information or provided it to DOD to inform program management. As a result, agencies have made decisions to sustain and expand both Section 1206 and 1207 projects without documentation of progress or effectiveness.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: In preparing to reauthorize U.S. national defense programs, the Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretaries of Defense and State to document how Section 1207 projects are distinct from those of other foreign assistance programs and that these projects incur no additional implementation costs and experience no funding delays beyond those of other foreign assistance programs. In the absence of this documentation, the Congress may wish to consider not reauthorizing the Section 1207 program for fiscal year 2011 and, instead, appropriate funds to State and USAID programs.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO briefed majority and minority staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee (authorizing committee) on the report in May 2010. In January 2011, the Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, which did not include any provision extending the authority of the program beyond its expiration date of September 30, 2010.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: For the Section 1206 program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State should seek further guidance from the Congress on what funding authorities are appropriate to sustain Section 1206 projects when the Secretary determines that (a) projects address specific terrorist and stabilization threats in high-priority countries, (b) reliable monitoring and evaluation have shown that projects are effective, and (c) partner nation funds are unavailable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is monitoring agency efforts to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: For the Section 1206 program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, should estimate the cost of sustaining projects at the time they are proposed and, where possible, obtain a commitment from partner nations to fund those costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is monitoring agency efforts to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: For the Section 1206 program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, should base further decisions about sustaining existing Section 1206 projects on the results of such monitoring and evaluation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is monitoring agency efforts to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: For the Section 1206 program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, should develop and implement specific plans to monitor, evaluate, and report routinely on Section 1206 project outcomes and their impact on U.S. strategic objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2012, DOD finalized the Section 1206 Assessment Handbook intended "to assist Section 1206 stakeholders in planning and executing their responsibilities in the Section 1206 Assessment Process." Specifically, it focuses on the preparation and conduct of baseline and program assessments and outlines steps to do so. Subsequently, in December 2012, DOD published a "for official use only" report to Congress on Section 1206 assessments detailing the results of five 2012 pilot assessments conducted in the Philippines, the Republic of Georgia, Djibouti, Tunisia, and Poland. According to agency officials, DOD plans to apply the assessment methodology in eleven additional recipient countries in 2013. Section 1206 program officials stated that this effort was taken, in part, based on GAO's recommendations in GAO-10-431, and that while 2013 is considered a transition year for the assessment process, they eventually plan to assess and maintain evaluations for every recipient country.

    Recommendation: For the Section 1207 program, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Administrator of USAID, should develop and implement specific plans to monitor, evaluate, and report on their outcomes and their impact on U.S. strategic objectives to determine whether continued funding for these projects is appropriate under other authorities and programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is monitoring agency efforts to implement this recommendation.

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