Proliferation Security Initiative:

Agencies Have Adopted Policies and Procedures but Steps Needed to Meet Reporting Requirement and to Measure Results

GAO-12-441: Published: Mar 27, 2012. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 2012.

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What GAO Found

U.S. agencies have adopted interagency guidance documents that establish PSI policies and procedures and have submitted annual reports; however, these reports do not contain expenditure data for all agencies as required by law. The agencies produced documents that contain general PSI policies and procedures. In addition, DOD and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) developed policies and procedures specifically to guide their agencies’ PSI activities. The annual reports submitted in 2009, 2010, and 2011 met requirements to describe PSI-related activities planned for future years and those that took place in the preceding year. Although the reports included an account of DOD’s PSI expenditures, they did not contain all expenditures for other agencies for PSI activities as required by law.

U.S. officials participated in a range of PSI activities since 2008 to meet their objective of expanding and enhancing counterproliferation efforts, but it is unclear to what extent these activities have achieved the objective because agencies lack measures of results. The agencies either led or participated in 22 PSI activities from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2011 including multilateral meetings and exercises. Officials stated that their outreach efforts contributed to increased support for PSI since GAO’s 2008 report, such as the increase from 93 to 98 countries endorsing PSI. In addition, they have extended access to PSI activities to more countries that are not part of the group of 21 PSI Operational Experts Group countries, for example by holding regional planning meetings. Despite recommendations of Congress and GAO that agencies develop PSI performance indicators, DOD, State, CBP, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have not developed indicators that can be used to systematically measure progress toward the stated PSI objective. Further, the agencies have not systematically evaluated PSI activity results. Although some officials indicated plans to develop PSI performance indicators, officials from DOD and State also cited several challenges to developing indicators to measure PSI activities’ results including difficulty quantifying how PSI activities improved capacity. However, GAO has previously reported that, despite such challenges, developing measures that help link activities to results is possible. PSI agencies could develop a framework that links performance measures to outcomes. For example, such a framework could link the number of participants trained to changes in national policies that strengthen participant countries’ authority to interdict the shipment of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials.

Why GAO Did This Study

In 2003, the Bush Administration announced the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to enhance U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). PSI is not a program housed in only one agency, but instead is a set of activities with participation by multiple U.S. agencies and other countries. Congress recommended that the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State (State) establish policies, procedures, and indicators to measure results and required that they submit annual reports. It also mandated that GAO report on PSI effectiveness. In 2008, GAO likewise recommended that law enforcement agencies also establish policies, procedures, and performance indicators.

This report assesses (1) the progress relevant agencies have made since 2008 in establishing recommended PSI policies and procedures and issuing required annual reports; and (2) the extent to which PSI activities have enhanced and expanded U.S. counterproliferation efforts.

GAO reviewed and analyzed agency documents and interviewed officials from State, DOD, and other agencies with PSI responsibilities.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that State and DOD provide all required expenditure information in PSI annual reports and develop a framework for measuring PSI’s results. DOD partially concurred with both recommendations and State partially concurred with the reporting recommendation. State disagreed with the framework recommendation, but noted its support for analysis consistent with it.

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or melitot@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the draft report, DoD agreed that the annual PSI report should include expenditure information for all U.S. agencies. DoD stated that the reports have included information on expenditures by DoD and other agencies that are unique to PSI, while excluding items that are accounted for in agency general operating budgets. However, GAO found that some expenditure amounts not reported in the annual reports were unique to PSI and, therefore, should have been included. Department officials responded to GAO's August 2015 request for an update on recommendation implementation status for GAO-12-441, but did not provide any new information on progress toward implementing this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress has information to assess U.S. participation in PSI, the Secretaries of Defense and State should include in the annual PSI report to Congress the required expenditure information for all U.S. agencies participating in PSI activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the draft report, the Department of State partially concurred with the recommendation. The department explained that it is difficult to define some expenditures as unique to PSI, for example, because travel in support of PSI events often coincides with travel in support of other department operational activities. However, the department said it would closely examine travel-related and other expenses unique to PSI in order to include them in future reports to Congress. On September 3, 2015, department officials told GAO that although State does not have a dedicated PSI budget line, the officials plan to coordinate with other Executive Branch agencies to itemize travel related and associated expenses specific to PSI events for inclusion in future reports to Congress.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress has information to assess U.S. participation in PSI, the Secretaries of Defense and State should include in the annual PSI report to Congress the required expenditure information for all U.S. agencies participating in PSI activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the draft report, DoD partially concurred with the recommendation. The department cited challenges in establishing objective and quantifiable measures of success, but committed to make an effort to implement the recommendation by using the Critical Capabilities and Practices (CCP) concept as a results framework and to identify meaningful performance measures, where appropriate. On September 8, 2015, department officials told GAO that they have made efforts to develop a framework for DoD Strategic Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) objectives and to align those objectives with performance measurement indicators. According to DoD officials, they have developed an initial set of framework indicators and have begun an internal process to ensure that these both align to objectives and also are specific, measurable, accurate, actionable, repeatable, and timely. They stated that the framework would not be finalized by the end of FY 2015.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress has information to assess U.S. participation in PSI, the Secretaries of Defense and State should develop a framework for measuring PSI activities' results, including performance measures where possible that help link the results to PSI's objective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the draft report, the Department of State said it had some indicators, such as the numbers of PSI-endorsing countries, for use in measuring PSI progress, but cautioned that PSI does not lend itself to collective data that would provide reasonable approximation of results. Nonetheless, State cited a tool--the Critical Capabilities and Practices (CCP) concept--it intended to consider using to conduct future analysis of coordinated PSI activities. On September 3, 2015, department officials told GAO that the Department is still reviewing how CCP, in coordination with other Executive Branch agencies, could serve as one means for contributing to an effective analysis of the outcomes of PSI events.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress has information to assess U.S. participation in PSI, the Secretaries of Defense and State should develop a framework for measuring PSI activities' results, including performance measures where possible that help link the results to PSI's objective.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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