Drug Control:

Treatment Alternatives Program for Drug Offenders Needs Stronger Emphasis

GGD-93-61: Published: Feb 11, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC) program, focusing on: (1) whether TASC has program elements that can be attributed to successful drug abuse control; (2) program results; and (3) any barriers that may limit program potential.

GAO found that: (1) TASC is an effective mechanism to coordinate criminal justice and drug treatment efforts; (2) research indicates that offenders may be more likely to enter and stay in drug treatment when faced with possible criminal sanctions; (3) TASC enhances the criminal justice system's ability to assess needs and match offenders with the appropriate treatment; (4) the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) relies on state and local initiatives to expand TASC; (5) ONDCP has not targeted any particular cities for implementation of TASC programs; (6) TASC officials stated that lack of adequate community-based drug treatment was a major problem that hindered them from placing offenders in the most appropriate treatment program; (7) TASC identified and referred more individuals to treatment than less formal treatment programs; (8) TASC programs did not measure how effective they were at reducing offender drug use; and (9) barriers that limit TASC program potential include inadequate funding, inconsistent implementation of the TASC program model, and lack of impact on the drug-abusing population.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a June 17, 1995 response to the recommendation, ONDCP stated that it would continue to support both the establishment of TASC and the evaluation of its effectiveness. ONDCP stated that several of its 1994 Drug Control Strategy objectives, including an evaluation of the TASC program, as well as strengthening the linkages between prevention, treatment and the criminal justice community, are particularly responsive to the recommendation that ONDCP more strongly emphasize TASC.

    Recommendation: Consistent with the ONDCP recommendation to expand TASC and its overall responsibility to coordinate the implementation of the federal drug strategy, the Director, ONDCP, should take several actions to more strongly emphasize TASC. Specifically, the Director, in concert with relevant federal and state officials, should: (1) identify additional cities that may benefit from TASC programs; and (2) reach agreement on how TASC should be funded.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy


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