Drug Control:

Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

GGD-93-144: Published: Sep 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) implementation of its statutory responsibilities, focusing on: (1) the progress reported under the national drug control strategies and the methodology ONDCP used to evaluate its progress; (2) ONDCP efforts to coordinate implementation of national drug control strategies; (3) ONDCP involvement in the collection of data used to direct policy and measure the progress in the war on drugs; and (4) the drug budget certification process.

GAO found that: (1) although ONDCP has reported a steady decline in drug use among casual drug users, the number of frequent hard-core drug users has not declined, drugs remain readily available, and drug-related violence and adverse health consequences persist; (2) ONDCP cannot measure the effectiveness of the three major components of the national drug-control strategies because each component lacks performance indicators and specific information; (3) strengthening and centralizing performance indicators would promote more comprehensive decisionmaking over drug policies, budgets, and operations; (4) ONDCP and federal drug control agencies need to improve interagency relationships when developing, assessing, and coordinating the national drug control policy; (5) ONDCP and the Department of Health and Human Services need to resolve disagreements over the authority, collection, and use of drug data; (6) ONDCP limits its reviews to agency and departmental budgets and selectively certifies program-level budgets because staffing constraints have made the three-tiered drug budget certification process impractical; (7) ONDCP is unable to make adequate drug budget comparisons because Department of Defense (DOD) agencies are not required to submit individual drug budgets to ONDCP for preliminary review; and (8) ONDCP should be reauthorized, since there is a continuing need for a central planning agency to coordinate the nation's drug control efforts.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Recently, Congress passed legislation (P.L. 103-322) reauthorizing ONDCP until September 30, 1997. A section of that law entitled "National Drug Control Strategy Outcomes Measures": (1) provides details that relate to the recommendations; and (2) directs that each year's national drug control strategy include an evaluation of the effectiveness of federal drug control efforts (i.e. interdiction, treatment, prevention, law enforcement, and international programs) during the preceding year.

    Matter: Congress should reauthorize ONDCP for an additional finite period of time and include in reauthorization legislation a direction that ONDCP in consultation with the drug control agencies: (1) develop additional measures to assess progress in reducing drug use (particularly among hard-core users); (2) develop performance measures to evaluate the contributions made by major components of current antidrug efforts and significant new initiatives; and (3) incorporate these measures into future drug control strategies.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress passed reauthorization legislation for ONDCP (P.L. 103-322), which provided some flexibility to ONDCP in certifying the adequacy of program, agency, and department drug budgets. However, it appears that Congress will not implement GAO's recommendation, because it was not included in the reauthorization legislation.

    Matter: If ONDCP is reauthorized, Congress should replace the current statutory language requiring review and certification of budget submissions from all program managers, agencies, and departments with a simple mandate that ONDCP review and certify drug control budgets at such stages and times as it considers appropriate. Affording ONDCP greater flexibility in its budget certification reviews is particularly important if ONDCP staff is to be greatly reduced.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Acting Drug Coordinator informed GAO in a letter dated December 22, 1993, that "DOD will provide draft budget data to ONDCP by August of each year." This year DOD provided its drug budget to ONDCP on September 2, 1994, and plans to submit its budget to ONDCP in mid-August next year. (No accomplishment report will be prepared because this was not a key recommendation).

    Recommendation: Without a preliminary DOD drug budget received by August of each year, ONDCP ability to thoroughly review the DOD drug budget and make budget comparisons among agencies is impaired. If ONDCP is reauthorized and continues to have drug budget certification authority, the Secretary of Defense should direct that ONDCP be given a preliminary DOD drug budget by August of each year.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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