Drug Control:

DEA's Strategies and Operations in the 1990s

GGD-99-108: Published: Jul 21, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the strategies and operations of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the 1990s, focusing on: (1) what major enforcement strategies, programs, initiatives, and approaches DEA has implemented in the 1990s to carry out its mission, including its efforts to: (a) target and investigate national and international drug traffickers; and (b) help state and local law enforcement agencies combat drug offenders and drug-related violence in their communities; (2) whether DEA's goals and objectives, programs and initiatives, and performance measures are consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy; and (3) how DEA determined its fiscal year 1998 staffing needs and allocated the additional staff.

GAO noted that: (1) during the 1990s, DEA has enhanced or changed important aspects of its operations; (2) DEA expanded its domestic enforcement operations to work more with state and local law enforcement agencies and help combat drug-related violent crime in local communities; (3) DEA implemented an investigative approach domestically and internationally, focusing on intercepting the communications of major drug trafficking organizations to target the leaders and dismantle their operations; (4) DEA started participating in two interagency programs to target and investigate major drug trafficking organizations in Latin America and Asia; (5) DEA changed its foreign operations by screening and training special foreign police units to combat drug trafficking in certain key foreign countries; (6) DEA has significant responsibilities for the drug supply reduction portion of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) National Drug Control Strategy; (7) DEA's strategic goals and objectives, and its enhanced programs and initiatives, in the 1990s have been consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy; (8) however, DEA has not developed measurable performance targets for its programs and initiatives that are consistent with those adopted for the National Strategy; and (9) as a result, it is difficult for DEA, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Congress, and the public to assess how effective DEA has been in achieving its strategic goals and the effect its programs and initiatives in the 1990s have had on reducing the illegal drug supply.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since this report was issued, DEA, working with DOJ and ONDCP, has taken a series of actions to implement the recommendation. In June 2000, the then DEA Administrator approved DEA's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2000-2005, which was generally in line with DOJ's and ONDCP's strategic plans. According to DEA, on March 5, 2001, it finalized a management approach to identify and establish quantifiable performance targets. This approach includes using DEA Field Management Plans (FMPs) to help measure program effectiveness and provide organizational accountability, as well as identify resource requirements. On May 30, 2001, DEA headquarters finalized the FMPs submitted by the field divisions, identifying their priority targets. On July 30, 2001, DEA established performance targets for disrupting and dismantling international and domestic drug trafficking organizations in its annual performance plan based upon preliminary data completed by the field divisions for the second quarter of FY 2001. These targets are to be monitored quarterly and assessed at the end of the fiscal year. As of September 2001, DEA was developing an automated system to capture, verify, and validate data on all priority targets.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator, DEA, to work closely with DOJ and ONDCP to develop measurable DEA performance targets for disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations consistent with the performance targets in the National Drug Control Strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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