Foreign Assistance:

Status of Rule of Law Program Coordination

NSIAD-00-8R: Published: Oct 13, 1999. Publicly Released: Nov 12, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of State's efforts to coordinate rule of law assistance programs at the Washington, D.C., headquarters level, focusing on: (1) the status of State and the Department of Justice's efforts to resolve issues raised about Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, which provides police training and related assistance; and (2) issues related to Justice's role in planning police training and certain personnel matters that may have adversely affected the program's activities.

GAO noted that: (1) in recent years, State has made some progress in coordinating rule of law assistance programs with other federal agencies, including Justice and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID); (2) in March 1998, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General agreed to coordinate their law enforcement priorities in preparation for the fiscal year 2001 budget; (3) as a result, State attempted to inventory governmentwide rule of law programs and established a new position, Senior Coordinator for the Rule of Law, and Justice developed a plan for identifying and articulating worldwide law enforcement priorities; (4) in addition, in September 1999, State, Justice, AID, and other departments and agencies involved in rule of law assistance participated in an interagency coordination meeting intended to be a first step to help ensure that international rule of law activities support U.S. foreign policy objectives and that they make the most effective use of available resources; (5) in August 1998, State formed an interagency committee consisting of State, Justice, and AID officials to review the operations of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program; (6) Justice had raised concerns about the program's limited role in planning international police training, and State had concerns about the program's operations because of management issues, some of which are under investigation by the Justice Department's Inspector General; (7) although State and AID circulated a draft report in December 1998, Justice officials did not concur because they objected to many of the recommendations as going beyond the committee's mandate; (8) despite Justice's rejection of the draft report, cooperation seems to be improving, as evidenced by Justice's selection of a new director for the program, after full consultation with State and AID officials; (9) in addition, Justice officials point to program improvements, some of which were arrived at by the interagency committee; and (10) Justice officials also told GAO that any remaining planning and coordination problems could be resolved within the proposed series of interagency meetings that were initiated in September 1999.

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