U.S. Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints
GAO-10-505: Published: May 11, 2010. Publicly Released: May 11, 2010.
The 2003 Roadmap for Peace process sponsored by the United States and other nations obligates the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Government of Israel to undertake security efforts as a necessary precursor for achieving the long-standing objective of establishing a Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution for peace in the Middle East. In 2005 the Department of State (State) created the office of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) to help the parties meet these obligations. GAO was asked to (1) describe the nature and extent of U.S. security assistance to the PA since 2007; (2) assess State's efforts to measure the effectiveness of its security assistance; and (3) describe factors that may affect the implementation of U.S. security assistance programs. GAO analyzed documents; interviewed officials and regional experts; and conducted fieldwork in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan.
State has allocated about $392million to train and equip the PA security forces, oversee construction of related infrastructure projects, and develop the capacity of the PA during fiscal years 2007 through 2010. Of this total, State has allocated: (1) more than $160 million to help fund and support training, primarily for the PA's National Security Force (NSF); (2) approximately $89 million to provide nonlethal equipment; (3) about $99 million to renovate or construct several PA installations, including two of the operations camps it plans to provide; and (4) about $22 million to build the capacity of the Interior Ministry and its Strategic Planning Directorate. State also requested $150 million for its programs for fiscal year 2011. Although U.S. and international officials said that U.S. security assistance programs for the PA have helped to improve security conditions in some West Bank areas, State and USSC have not established clear and measurable outcome-based performance indicators to assess progress. Thus, it is difficult to determine how the programs support the achievement of security-related Roadmap obligations. U.S. officials attributed the lack of agreement on such performance indicators to a number of factors, including the relatively early stage of PA plans and capacity for reforming, rebuilding, and sustaining its security forces. Developing outcome-based indicators to measure and manage performance against program goals has been identified by GAO as a good management practice. Such indicators would help USSC provide objective and useful performance information for decision makers. State and USSC officials noted that they plan to incorporate performance indicators in a USSC campaign plan to be released in mid-2010. The implementation of the U.S. security assistance programs faces logistical constraints largely outside of U.S. control, and these implementation efforts outpace international efforts to develop the limited capacity of the PA police and justice sector. Logistical constraints include restrictions on the movement of USSC personnel in the West Bank, lack of a process to ensure approval and timely delivery of equipment, and difficulties in acquiring suitable land for infrastructure projects. State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other international donors have been assisting the PA civil police and justice-sector reforms, although these efforts are not proceeding at the same pace as the security assistance programs.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: State partially concurred with the recommendation. In a letter to Congressional committees after the report's issuance, State stated that it had drafted a new umbrella Letter of Agreement (LOA) between itself and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The LOA included seven projects that were designed to establish and enhance the PA's capability to build a professional security force under civilian command and control and expand popular access to Rule of Law. The LOA defines goals and establishes performance measures for each of the seven project areas. Moreover, the parties to the LOA agree to furnish each other the information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of project operations under the terms of the LOA. Furthermore, upon termination of a project, a completion report will be issued and shall include a summary of project contributions, activities performed, objectives achieved, and related data. The LOA was signed by the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority in June 2010. Subsequently, in October 2010, the incoming head of the USSC updated the USSC campaign plan to guide the effort for the next 3-5 years through a time of transition in the USSC-PA relationship from a Train and Equip program for the new Palestinian security forces to efforts to help the PA sustain the completed force structure. A review of State, USSC, U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem and contractor weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports between July 2010 and April 2012 demonstrates that State has been consistently tracking progress toward the seven activities agreed to under the terms of the June 2010 LOA.
Recommendation: As State develops the USSC campaign plan for providing security assistance to the PA, the Secretary of State should establish outcome-based indicators and track them over time. State should define specific program objectives and identify appropriate outcome-based indicators that would demonstrate progress toward achieving those objectives, and would enable it to, among other things, weigh the progress made in developing the security forces, civil police, Ministry of Interior, and justice sectors.
Agency Affected: Department of State