Military Aid:

Stronger Oversight Can Improve Accountability

NSIAD-92-41: Published: Dec 16, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management controls over U.S. military aid to foreign countries, focusing on: (1) how the United States exercises oversight for military aid; and (2) whether more emphasis on accountability is needed.

GAO found that: (1) since the Arms Export Control Act, which governs military aid items that have been purchased by recipient countries since fiscal year (FY) 1982, does not specify U.S. responsibilities for oversight and monitoring of U.S.-supplied defense articles, U.S. officials are not sure whether and to what extent they are responsible for monitoring military equipment and supplies once they are delivered to a host country; (2) although the seven recipient countries visited have security controls over U.S.-funded items, weaknesses in those controls and cases of actual and alleged diversion indicate that U.S.-funded items may be vulnerable to misuse and that the emphasis on accountability is not sufficient; (3) enhancement of U.S. oversight could probably be achieved without adding staff resources in most cases, beginning with the development of accountability standards to provide the level of oversight appropriate for each country and related conditions; (4) U.S. security assistance organizations are not meeting the minimal monitoring requirement in Department of Defense (DOD) guidance for U.S. military aid provided before FY 1982; and (5) although some items provided before FY 1982 may require continued monitoring, special controls for older military aid items, which are not applied to the aid program, may not be an appropriate use of security assistance organization resources.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 25, 1995, the House passed H.R. 1561, which includes a separate security assistance title that incorporates the essence of the recommendation by including a section on end-use monitoring of items. However, the Senate did not act on the measure. Prospects for its action are unknown.

    Matter: To impose a statutory requirement for U.S. oversight, place greater emphasis on accountability and controls, and clarify existing provisions related to security for U.S.-funded items, Congress may wish to consider modifying the Arms Export Control Act to require the Secretary of Defense, after coordination with the Secretary of State, to implement monitoring and oversight actions appropriate for each recipient country to ensure that existing conditions pertaining to use, security, and transfer of U.S.-funded military items are met.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 25, 1995, the House passed H.R. 1561, which includes a separate security assistance title that incorporates the essence of the recommendation by including a section on end-use monitoring of items. However, the Senate has not acted on the measure. Prospects for further action are unknown.

    Matter: To impose a statutory requirement for U.S. oversight, place greater emphasis on accountability and controls, and clarify existing provisions related to security for U.S.-funded items, Congress may wish to consider modifying the Arms Export Control Act to require recipient countries, as a condition to receiving U.S. military grant aid, to permit U.S. representatives to review those countries' internal control systems and the accountability, disposition, and use of U.S.-funded items.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 25, 1995, the House passed H.R. 1561, which includes a separate security assistance title that incorporates the essence of the recommendation by including a section on end-use monitoring of items. However, the Senate has not acted on the measure and prospects for its passage at this time are unknown.

    Matter: To impose a statutory requirement for U.S. oversight, place greater emphasis on accountability and controls, and clarify existing provisions related to security for U.S.-funded items, Congress may wish to consider modifying the Arms Export Control Act to require recipient countries to agree to safeguard all defense articles, including unclassified as well as classified items.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD believes that the Security Assistance Manual is clear in defining responsibility to monitor country use of U.S. funded equipment. DOD sent a message to all Security Assistance organizations reiterating existing policies and procedures. GAO believes that clarification standards need to be included in the Security Assistance Manual. As of late 1994, no further action has been taken.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Defense Security Assistance Agency, to develop accountability standards for military aid programs and to revise the Security Assistance Management Manual to clarify what monitoring is required to provide reasonable assurances that recipient countries are meeting conditions set forth in legislation and aid agreements. In applying those standards, Security Assistance Organizations should take into account, among other factors, the adequacy of the recipient country's internal control systems, the vulnerability of items to misuse and diversion, and the sensitivity and lethality of the items. Those standards should apply to all military aid items, including both pre- and post-1982 military assistance programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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