Drug Control:

Assets DOD Contributes to Reducing the Illegal Drug Supply Have Declined

NSIAD-00-9: Published: Dec 21, 1999. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the assets the Department of Defense (DOD) has contributed to reducing the illegal drug supply, focusing on: (1) DOD's plan for supporting U.S. counterdrug efforts and how DOD measures its effectiveness; (2) changes in the level of DOD support for counterdrug activities from fiscal year (FY) 1992 through FY 1999 and the reasons for the changes; and (3) obstacles DOD faces in providing counterdrug assistance to foreign governments.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD has plans and strategies that support the goal of reducing the nation's illegal drug supply by providing military personnel, detection and monitoring equipment, intelligence support, communication systems, and training; (2) however, DOD has not yet developed a set of performance measures to assess its effectiveness in contributing to this goal but has taken some initial steps to develop such measures; (3) these steps include the development of a database to capture information that can be used to assess the relative performance of DOD's detection and monitoring assets; (4) DOD's level of support to international drug control efforts has declined significantly since 1992; (5) some of the decline in air and maritime support has been partially offset by increased support provided by the Coast Guard and Customs Service; (6) nevertheless, DOD officials have stated that coverage in key, high-threat drug-trafficking areas in the Caribbean and in cocaine-producing countries is limited; (7) the decline in assets DOD uses to carry out its counterdrug responsibilities is due to: (a) the lower priority assigned to the counterdrug mission compared with that assigned to other military missions that might involve contact with hostile forces such as peacekeeping; and (b) overall reductions in defense budgets and force levels; (8) DOD officials believe that their operations are more efficient today than in the past and that this has partially offset the decline in assets available for counterdrug operations; (9) because of a lack of data, however, the impact of the reduced level of DOD support on drug trafficking is unknown; (10) DOD faces several challenges in providing counterdrug support to host-nation military and law enforcement organizations; (11) these organizations often lack the capability to operate and repair equipment and effectively utilize training provided by the United States; and (12) in addition, DOD faces restrictions on providing training support to some foreign military units and sharing intelligence information with certain host-nation counterdrug organizations because of past evidence of human rights violations and corruption within these organizations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 1999, GAO found that due to reductions in budgets, force structure, and the lower priority according to the counterdrug mission, the assets DOD provided to the international counterdrug effort had declined. Additionally, GAO reported that although DOD had been involved in the counterdrug effort for over a decade, it had not developed performance measures. Consequently, DOD could not assess the effectiveness of its strategy, operations, and the assets it contributed to the U.S. national counterdrug program. The report recommended that DOD develop a set of performance measures to assess and report on its contributions to U.S. counterdrug operations. On April 14, 2000, at the request of DOD, GAO met with contractors hired by the department to begin developing performance measures. In August 2000, DOD agreed on a framework for its performance measures for an effective system scheduled for implementation in the Fall of 2000.

    Recommendation: In order for DOD to analyze and report on the relative effectiveness of its counterdrug detection and monitoring efforts on a consistent basis, the Secretary of Defense should direct that DOD's Office for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support to coordinate with the joint interagency task forces and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop a set of performance measures for assessing DOD's contributions to U.S. counterdrug operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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