Federal Drug Interdiction Efforts Need Strong Central Oversight

GGD-83-52: Published: Jun 13, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 13, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the federal drug interdiction efforts and recommended ways to improve the effectiveness of these efforts.

GAO found that federal efforts to attack the supply of illegal drugs have three major components: (1) international programs aimed at drug-producer countries; (2) interdiction of drugs at the border; and (3) domestic law enforcement. Federal resources devoted to drug interdiction more than tripled from 1977 to 1982. The Coast Guard's drug interdiction program comprises the majority of this increase. Despite these increases, only 16 percent of the marijuana and less than 10 percent of the heroin, cocaine, and dangerous drugs that are entering this country are seized through total drug enforcement efforts. Joint special projects conducted by two or more agencies have proven especially effective in attacking drug smuggling, for example, special Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations involving the U.S. Customs Service and the Coast Guard. The authority and responsibility for federal drug interdiction efforts are split among three separate agencies in three executive departments. Although the level of cooperation is increasing, especially in south Florida, such fragmentation has a certain amount of inefficiency and interagency conflict. Congressional oversight and executive branch resource allocation decisions relative to drug interdiction are difficult under these circumstances. The effectiveness of federal interdiction efforts depends a great deal on intelligence support capabilities. The military departments have provided some limited assistance to drug enforcement agencies over the last several years.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 requires that a Policy Board be constituted to develop a drug strategy.

    Recommendation: The President should direct the development of a more definitive federal drug strategy that stipulates the roles of the various agencies with drug enforcement responsibilities, to include a determination of whether the role of the U.S. Customs Service should be expanded to assist in follow-up investigations of interdiction cases.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 designated the Attorney General as chairman of the Drug Policy Board.

    Recommendation: The President should make a clear delegation of responsibility to one individual to oversee federal drug enforcement programs.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Justice has taken action to produce better program results information, but GAO has not assessed the value of that action. Events, such as the creation of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, have also confused this issue. GAO is currently undertaking a review of federal interdiction capabilities, which will reassess this issue.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, the Customs Service, and Coast Guard officials to work together to develop a management information system which accumulates interdiction program results such as drug seizures, level of prosecution, and case disposition, and identifies the resources devoted to drug interdiction programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Transportation has taken action to produce better program results information, but GAO has not assessed the value of that action. Events, such as the creation of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, have also confused this issue. GAO is currently undertaking a review of federal interdiction capabilities, which will reassess this issue.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, the Customs Service, and Coast Guard officials to work together to develop a management information system which accumulates interdiction program results such as drug seizures, level of prosecution, and case disposition, and identifies the resources devoted to drug interdiction programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Treasury has taken action to produce better program results information, but GAO has not assessed the value of that action. Events, such as the creation of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, have also confused this issue. GAO is currently undertaking a review of federal interdiction capabilities, which will reassess this issue.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, the Customs Service, and Coast Guard officials to work together to develop a management information system which accumulates interdiction program results such as drug seizures, level of prosecution, and case disposition, and identifies the resources devoted to drug interdiction programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 requires Policy Board review and approval of programming of funds.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget, should accumulate budgetary data on drug enforcement costs that are provided by Coast Guard, Customs, and DEA, and submit this information to Congress concurrent with these agencies' budget submissions.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator of DEA to review current overseas staffing to determine whether additional personnel could be reassigned and used more effectively in the Caribbean.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: State has taken action on this recommendation, but changing events limited the affects of the actions. This issue will be reassessed during a current GAO review of federal efforts to interdict drugs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should prepare a Narcotics Assessment and Strategy Paper and, if it is found to be warranted, follow up with projects designed to aid interdiction efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, Customs, and Coast Guard units to recognize the importance of promptly reporting all information on drug smuggling to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, Customs, and Coast Guard units to recognize the importance of promptly reporting all information on drug smuggling to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should direct DEA, Customs, and Coast Guard units to recognize the importance of promptly reporting all information on drug smuggling to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should provide additional staff to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should provide additional staff to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation should provide additional staff to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  15. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation is valid, but for political reasons, Treasury will not send that function which supports the Customs operations to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Commissioner of Customs to transfer to the El Paso Intelligence Center the drug intelligence analysis activities in the Office of Border Operations that are similar to those at the El Paso Intelligence Center and assign the staff necessary to carry out such activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  16. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation is valid, but for political reasons, Transportation will not send that function which supports the Coast Guard missions to the El Paso Intelligence Center.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to transfer to El Paso Intelligence Center the marine drug intelligence activities at the Atlantic Area Command.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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