Drug Control:

Defense Spending for Counternarcotics Activities for Fiscal Years 1989-91

NSIAD-92-82: Published: Apr 21, 1992. Publicly Released: May 21, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request and a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the nature and extent of the Department of Defense's (DOD) spending for counternarcotics activities for fiscal year (FY) 1989 through FY 1991, focusing on the: (1) DOD counternarcotics funding process; (2) impact of any delays in providing obligation authority on the ability of DOD organizations to execute their counternarcotics missions; and (3) DOD process for reviewing counternarcotics program proposals prior to submission to Congress.

GAO found that: (1) between FY 1989 and FY 1991, Congress appropriated about $1.9 billion for DOD counternarcotics activities and earmarked them to a central account; (2) in FY 1989 and FY 1990, DOD experienced significant delays in receiving program obligation authority after Congress had appropriated the funds; (3) notwithstanding those delays, DOD, through reprogramming and other actions, obligated most of the 1-year funds before they expired; (4) DOD stated that its late receipt of obligation authority did not adversely affect its ability to carry out counternarcotics missions, since they were able to finance those missions with existing funds until it received funds from the counternarcotics transfers account; (5) in FY 1989, the DOD counternarcotics program submitted to Congress was based primarily on the subjective judgement of senior staff in the DOD Drug Coordinator's office and the defense organizations responsible for program execution; (6) in FY 1990, DOD initiated a more detailed counternarcotics planning, programming, and requirements review process that included increased involvement of regional commanders; (7) national assessments of the cocaine trafficking threat were not yet available during those years, which made it difficult for officials responsible for reviewing requirements to judge the merits and propriety of proposed counternarcotics projects and activities; (8) in FY 1991, DOD further refined its counternarcotics requirements review process and published interagency assessments of the overall cocaine threat; and (9) DOD plans to use those assessments in preparing future counternarcotics programs before their submission to Congress.

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