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International Affairs: Combating Wildlife Trafficking (2018-11)

Federal agencies that combat wildlife trafficking should clarify roles and responsibilities in Southeast Asia to better manage fragmentation and have more reasonable assurance that they can effectively marshal the contributions of all agencies.

Action:

The Secretary of the Interior should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Progress:

As of August 2018, the Secretary of the Interior had taken steps to work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia, as GAO recommended in October 2017. Specifically, the Department of the Interior actively consulted with and engaged the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) both in headquarters and at the missions to solicit input during their grant and cooperative agreement review process. They shared information about which projects have been selected for funding to ensure they complement State and USAID financial assistance efforts. For example, in March 2018, Interior solicited input from State and USAID on two wildlife-related grants. In doing so, Interior ensured that roles and responsibilities of mission staff and others working in the region are clarified and understood with regard to these projects.

Implementing Entity:

Department of the Interior

Action:

The Secretary of State should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Progress:

As of August 2018, the Secretary of State had taken steps to work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia, as GAO recommended in October 2017. Specifically, the Department of State jointly established the U.S. Embassy Bangkok Wildlife Working Group, made up of officers from State, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Working Group clarified roles and responsibilities by clearly distinguishing the actions that each agency would undertake, and as a result, agencies are effectively coordinating their efforts to take full advantage of their expertise and resources in addressing wildlife trafficking.

Implementing Entity:

Department of State

Action:

The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Progress:

In October 2017, USAID conducted a three-day training course on combating wildlife trafficking for USAID mission staff. Two modules, totaling two and half hours, focused specifically on working with the USG interagency. The modules included material from the U.S. Departments of State, Interior and Justice, focused on their respective mandates and roles in combating wildlife trafficking. USAID also restarted the Wildlife Working group at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, which will identify opportunities for coordination and collaboration between multiple agencies.

Implementing Entity:

U.S. Agency for International Development
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    • Kimberly Gianopoulos
    • Director, International Affairs and Trade
    • gianopoulosk@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-8612