Department of Defense:

Changes Needed to the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Program

NSIAD-94-57: Published: Nov 2, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 7, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA) program, focusing on whether the military services have the legal authority necessary to properly implement and monitor the program.

GAO found that: (1) between 1986 and 1992, the HCA program distributed excess nonlethal equipment and supplies to 117 countries and established many civic assistance projects; (2) the extent of HCA program assistance is not fully known because some civil assistance projects are not following reporting requirements; (3) the total cost of the HCA program is not known because transportation and personnel costs and excess property donation costs are not reported; (4) although DOD had permanent authority over HCA programs in 1987, it did not issue implementation guidelines to resolve significant differences in the military services' interpretation of the authorizing legislation; (5) most HCA activities are paid from the military services' operations and maintenance accounts; (6) many HCA programs in Panama and Honduras do not meet U.S. foreign policy objectives, enhance U.S. military training, meet the host countries' needs, or have sufficient coordination between the U.S. military, embassies, and Agency for International Development (AID) missions; and (7) DOD commands in Panama and Honduras do not systematically evaluate HCA projects or perform follow-up visits to determine program effectiveness.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new DOD Directive 2205.2 assigns HCA Program oversight responsibilities to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Global Affairs to ensure that commands are evaluating projects to determine their effectiveness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD's new directive and instructions emphasize the need for coordination among foreign affairs agencies and that HCA projects contribute to foreign policy objectives.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Global Affairs to ensure that projects contribute to U.S. foreign policy objectives and have the full support of the host country involved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 6, 1994, DOD issued a policy directive on the HCA Program and on January 27, 1995, issued implementing instructions addressing GAO's concerns.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Global Affairs to issue an implementing directive for conducting HCA activities as required by the law, which among other things, clarifies for the commands the relationship between the Stevens Amendment and title 10 legislation and establishes a dollar threshold for minimum assistance provided under title 10.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD's new policy directive emphasizes the need to properly account for costs incurred as a result of humanitarian assistance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Global Affairs to develop a cost-effective method for providing Congress with a more reasonable estimate of the costs incurred in providing humanitarian assistance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new DOD policy directive emphasizes the importance of having the proper military occupational skills for meaningful training on HCA projects.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to ensure that the training soldiers receive from working on HCA projects will promote their military readiness skills.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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