Countering Overseas Threats:

DOD and State Need to Address Gaps in Monitoring of Security Equipment Transferred to Lebanon

GAO-14-161: Published: Feb 26, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 2014.

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Charles M. Johnson, Jr
(202) 512-7331
johnsoncm@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The United States allocated $671 million for Lebanese security forces from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2013. Of these total allocated funds, $477 million, or 71 percent, had been disbursed or committed by the end of fiscal year 2013. Nearly all of the allocations made in fiscal years 2009 through 2011 had been disbursed or committed. For the largest program, Foreign Military Financing, the Department of Defense (DOD) had committed about $352 million of the $481 million allocated in fiscal years 2009 through 2013.

Consistent with end-use monitoring requirements, DOD and the Department of State (State) conduct annual inventories for equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces. However, GAO found gaps in efforts to document and monitor physical security of some U.S. equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces that may weaken efforts to safeguard physical security of some equipment. First, while DOD annually inventories sensitive equipment by serial number, as required by its policy, U.S embassy officials in Beirut have not always used DOD's required checklists to document compliance with physical security safeguards. Second, State did not fully document 4 of the 10 end-use monitoring checks it conducted in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 for defense equipment the Lebanese government purchased commercially. State end-use monitoring guidance requires that specific information be documented and maintained for all such checks. Third, while State conducts an annual inventory of the equipment it transfers to the Lebanese security forces, State may not be ensuring that the recipients of defense articles implement recommended physical security safeguards because State lacks procedures to identify defense articles and any recommended safeguards for storing them.

Examples of Items Subject to End-Use Monitoring in Lebanon

Examples of Items Subject to End-Use Monitoring in Lebanon

GAO estimates that State vetted 100 percent of the Lebanese students that attended U.S.-funded security-related training from October 10, 2010, through April 30, 2013, for human rights violations. On the basis of a cross-check analysis of vetting data and a sample of names from six training rosters, GAO estimates that State vetted all of the 7,104 Lebanese students that attended training during that period.

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 2009, the United States has allocated $671 million in security-related assistance for Lebanon to train, modernize, and equip the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The U.S. government established end-use monitoring programs to ensure that defense equipment is safeguarded. The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits certain assistance to any unit of foreign security forces if the Secretary of State has credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. GAO was asked to examine U.S. security-related assistance for Lebanon.

This report assesses the extent to which the U.S. government (1) disbursed or committed funds allocated for Lebanese security forces in fiscal years 2009 through 2013, (2) implemented end-use monitoring for equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces, and (3) vetted Lebanese recipients of U.S. security-related training for human rights violations. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed laws and regulations, analyzed agency data, and interviewed officials in Washington, D.C., and Beirut, Lebanon.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOD ensure U.S. officials use required checklists to confirm Lebanese facilities' compliance with required safeguards, and that State maintain proper documentation of end-use checks and establish formal procedures to ensure that bureaus identify defense articles and any recommended physical security safeguards for storing them. DOD and State concurred.

For more information, contact Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., at (202) 512-7331 or johnsoncm@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that U.S. agencies are in a better position to ensure adequate safeguards for and monitoring of sensitive equipment, the Secretary of Defense should take additional steps to ensure that Office of Defense Cooperation officials in Beirut use the checklists required during the physical security checks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and U.S. officials overseas to maintain cables or e-mails as required by State guidance to document each Blue Lantern end-use check.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct State bureaus transferring equipment to foreign security forces under security-related assistance programs to establish formal written procedures to identify whether items are defense articles.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct State bureaus transferring equipment to foreign security forces under security-related assistance programs to establish formal written procedures to consult with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to determine if there are additional safeguards recommended for the transfer of the defense articles.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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