War on Drugs:

Information Management Poses Formidable Challenges

IMTEC-91-40: Published: May 31, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified: (1) automated information systems used by federal agencies in combatting illicit drugs; and (2) federal drug control community efforts to improve counterdrug information management.

GAO found that: (1) 24 civilian and intelligence agencies and 9 Department of Defense (DOD) components operated over 100 drug control information systems; (2) due to the importance of effective management and sharing of information on drug trafficking activities and enforcement efforts, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored two interagency working groups to maximize the exchange and use of drug-related information; (3) individual agencies with varying degrees of independence needed effective central information resources management (IRM) leadership to ensure cooperative agency action and to successfully implement a governmentwide information management strategy; (4) interoperability problems among agencies' automated information systems and the use of unautomated data limited how well agencies shared important drug investigative information; (5) data integrity problems that plagued agencies could cause misdirected interdiction operations and incriminate innocent persons; (6) agencies needed to better protect sensitive data; and (7) the proliferation of intelligence centers among agencies significantly complicated information management.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Director, ONDCP, should establish clear, measurable objectives and specific time frames for resolving each of the five issues mentioned in this report. In addressing the leadership issue, it is important that ONDCP establish its information system goals, define mechanisms for resolving conflicts that may occur with agencies' primary mission goals, and ensure adequate funding and implementation of drug information programs.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The IRM plan is complete and published. It addresses issues in the report. However, due to budget cuts, funding is not available to implement a drug information program. The recommendation is no longer applicable because of the administration's budget cuts.

    Recommendation: The Director, ONDCP, should report to the appropriate jurisdictional committees within Congress on ONDCP plans for addressing the five issues and periodically report on the progress made toward resolving them.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The IRM plan is complete and published. It addresses issues in the report. However, due to budget cuts, funding is not available to implement a drug information program. The recommendation is no longer applicable because of the administration's budget cuts.

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