The Drug War:

Colombia Is Undertaking Antidrug Programs, but Impact Is Uncertain

NSIAD-93-158: Published: Aug 10, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. counternarcotics programs in Colombia, focusing on: (1) the programs' progress; (2) problems U.S. and Colombian agencies experience in implementing the programs; and (3) whether U.S. aid had been provided to units involved in human rights abuses.

GAO found that: (1) U.S. military and law enforcement aid has improved Colombia's counternarcotics capabilities; (2) U.S. officials believe that counternarcotics programs in Colombia have been effective in disrupting and reducing drug trafficking; (3) U.S. officials lack data to determine the programs' effectiveness; (4) the programs' success depends on long-term U.S. and Colombian commitments to Colombian law enforcement efforts and the reduction of the U.S. demand for drugs; (5) obstacles to the programs' success include Colombia's inability to plan and implement effective counternarcotics programs, increased insurgency and terrorism in Colombia, drug cartels' expansion into heroin trafficking, corruption, and dependence on other regional antidrug programs; (6) U.S. management difficulties include funding reductions, the lack of coordination between the Departments of State and Defense, and inventory control and expense payment problems at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota; (7) State has not fully implemented end-use monitoring procedures to ensure that Colombian military units use U.S. aid primarily for counternarcotics purposes; and (8) State lacks adequate data and procedures to determine if Colombian counternarcotics personnel are engaging in human rights abuses.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When the GAO report was issued, the Administration was in the process of reevaluating the U.S. international drug control strategy to include U.S. international antidrug strategy goals and objectives, and programs for the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. The revised strategy was issued in February 1994 and established new program objectives, goals, and funding levels. Colombia and the Andean region were included in this strategy. As part of the strategy, each agency was responsible for developing measures of effectiveness for meeting the objectives for their respective programs. The agencies have sent their measures to ONDCP.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy should, in coordination with other federal agencies, reevaluate the counternarcotics programs in Colombia as well as the entire Andean Strategy to determine what U.S. counternarcotics objectives and goals should be for each of the countries, what types of programs should be included in the counternarcotics strategy, what funding levels will be necessary to support these programs, and whether these levels will ensure that programs can significantly disrupt drug trafficking activities and reduce the supply of cocaine being shipped into the United States. As part of this reevaluation, U.S.officials should establish a quantitative baseline to evaluate the progress that U.S. antidrug programs in Colombia and the other Andean countries are having on meeting the established U.S. antidrug objectives and goals.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department has taken action to improve the embassy's inventory control and financial management of antidrug aid. In August 1993, a U.S. Air Force team initiated a 100-percent inventory of the National Police Warehouse. The results of that effort are now managed by an Air Force inventory system called the Automated Inventory Management System which has replaced the NAS inventory used by the embassy. Additionally, the embassy has strengthened its financial management practices by developing a memorandum of understanding to improve general oversight of procurement between the NAS and the appropriate offices of the embassy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the U.S. Embassy continues its efforts to establish better control over the inventory of assistance provided to police programs and resolve the administrative financial problems that are impacting law enforcement antidrug programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department, in conjunction with the Defense Department, has taken action to strengthen end-use monitoring (EUM) procedures of military aid used for counternarcotics purposes. The embassy's USMILGP has established standard operating procedures that require U.S. military officials to verify EUM information during field visits from reports provided by the Colombian forces. This procedure has been integrated into the U.S. embassy's Human Rights Action Plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, require that future Colombian inspector general reports certify that the aid is being used for counternarcotics purposes and ensure that the U.S. Military Group implements its revised 1992 end-use monitoring procedures for military aid.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department has taken action to promote human rights and to determine if U.S. aid has been provided to units reportedly involved in human rights abuses. The embassy has developed a Human Rights Action Plan for Colombia and has created a coordinating committee on human rights composed of various U.S. agencies. They have also developed procedures that include increasing coordination with Colombian government and non-government agencies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should require the U.S. Embassy to work closely with the Colombian government to establish procedures for determining whether U.S. aid has been provided to units involved in human rights violations. The results of this determination, if appropriate, should be included in the annual Department of State human rights report.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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